3,000 Web APIs: Trends From a Quickly Growing Directory

Adam DuVander, March 8th, 2011

ProgrammableWeb has reached a major milestone by adding its 3,000th web service API to our API directory. We’ve come a long way when you consider there were only 105 listed at the end of 2005. As we’ve noted previously, the growth rate of APIs doubled, which led to an influx of new services. Below are some of the trends we’ve spotted as the directory marks a new high.

Time to each milestone in the ProgrammableWeb API timeline:

  • 1,000 APIs: over 3 years
  • 2,000 APIs: less than 2 years
  • 3,000 APIs: about 9 months

API as a Company

We’ve started to notice new APIs emerging where there is no corresponding service. Or, put another way, the service is the API and thus the company is an API. The Twilio API (a ProgrammableWeb sponsor) is a prime example, offering telephony-as-a-service. Developers pay a few pennies per use to add voice and SMS to their applications. Developers have certainly responded: we list nearly 150 Twilio mashups.

Urban AirshipAPI companies often provide infrastructure that makes a developer’s life easier. For example, mobile developers use the Urban Airship API to add push notifications and in-app purchases to their mobile applications. The SimpleGeo API stores location data for developers, in addition to providing business listing data.

Providers Make Things Easy: REST and JSON

REST continues its climb as the de facto protocol for web APIs. There is certainly debate over how many are “true REST,” but the trend worth noting is that most APIs simply use HTTP. We’re seeing companies with SOAP APIs re-launch as REST. The Web Services Interoperability Organization, tasked with creating confusing WS-* standards, closed operations last year.

In terms of data formats, XML still rules the overall directory and most new APIs still support XML. However, providers are swarming to JSON, as developers request this format that makes it easy to read data into JavaScript (and most other modern languages) without a complex parser. Many are also going JSON-only. In the last year 281 APIs were added that support JSON and don’t provide XML.

APIs Get Facelifts

FoursquareIn addition to all the new APIs we see in our directory, there are many old ones seeing face-lifts. Some are claiming complete rewrites and often the changes include adding the popular protocols and data formats mentioned above. In November, Campaign Monitor dumped SOAP. Twitter’s streaming API is JSON only. So is the Foursquare API, which will deprecate its original version sometime mid-2011.

APIs Fuel Internal Usage

TwitterThe Twitter API was incorporated into its own webpage making twitter.com one giant mashup. Twitter’s website is the most common way to use Twitter, with the Twitter mobile site and Twitter for iPhone coming in second and third. All three are built off of the same API available to developers.

Similarly, the NPR API is used by several of the public radio organization’s websites and applications. Internal use is large enough that it’s a major audience consideration. Further, we’re seeing many launch APIs at the same time as mobile apps, because the API essentially comes along with the app. We looked more at this in Hey Mobile, Thanks for All the APIs.

With the directory count now flowing into the 3,000s, expect to continue to see the trends above. All developers, both internal and external, need simple paths to integration. Where that isn’t possible, providers will continue to re-work their APIs with new versions. And we’ll see plenty of new APIs emerge, whether entire companies built on a developer-facing service, or huge companies, slow to move, suddenly discovering the power of sharing their data or functionality.

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44 Responses to “3,000 Web APIs: Trends From a Quickly Growing Directory”

March 8th, 2011
at 10:23 am
Comment by: Programmable Web: 3000 APIs and Growing | API Evangelist

[...] to ProgrammableWeb for hitting the 3000th API in their [...]

March 8th, 2011
at 11:39 am
Comment by: Thousand of APIs Paint a Bright Future for the Web | simplesitetutorials.org

[...] Former Webmonkey writer Adam DuVander, now Executive Editor at ProgrammableWeb, recently announced that ProgrammableWeb, an API tracking site, now lists some 3000 web-based APIs. To go along with that milestone DuVander breaks down some of the trends in today’s APIs. [...]

March 8th, 2011
at 1:38 pm
Comment by: Thousand of APIs Paint a Bright Future for the Web | t3knoDorKs

[...] Former Webmonkey author Adam DuVander, now Executive Editor during ProgrammableWeb, recently announced that ProgrammableWeb, an API tracking site, now lists some 3000 web-based APIs. To go along with that miracle DuVander breaks down some of a trends in today’s APIs. [...]

March 8th, 2011
at 8:55 pm
Comment by: Brand APIS Starter – Location / Geo | API Evangelist

[...] right. The pace of API development skyrocketed in 2010, and will continue in 2011. Brands that don’t have an API will be left [...]

March 8th, 2011
at 8:56 pm
Comment by: Brand API Starter – Supporting Product Data | API Evangelist

[...] right. The pace of API development skyrocketed in 2010, and will continue in 2011. Brands that don’t have an API will be left [...]

March 8th, 2011
at 8:59 pm
Comment by: Brand APIs – Start with the Basics | API Evangelist

[...] right. The pace of API development skyrocketed in 2010, and will continue in [...]

March 10th, 2011
at 8:20 am
Comment by: Thousand of APIs Paint a Bright Future for the Web | Al Terry Gough

[...] Former Webmonkey writer Adam DuVander, now Executive Editor at ProgrammableWeb, recently announced that ProgrammableWeb, an API tracking site, now lists some 3000 web-based APIs. To go along with that milestone DuVander breaks down some of the trends in today’s APIs. [...]

March 10th, 2011
at 8:46 am
Comment by: Christian Sciberras

While the stats above sound interesting, I’m getting the feeling the person behind them do not have a clue about what they’re saying.

For example, there’s no protocol called “javascript”. And there’s no API data format called “PHP”.

And don’t tell me by PHP you meant “PHP serialization format”.

March 10th, 2011
at 10:42 am
Comment by: Adam DuVander

Hi Christian,

Thanks for your comment. We’ve found calling JavaScript a protocol the best way to describe mapping and other APIs that provide their service through a hosted JavaScript file.

And I’m afraid I can’t please you with PHP, either, as there are 75 APIs that output data as serialized PHP.

March 16th, 2011
at 9:40 am
Comment by: Appcelerator Premium Modules Offer Mobile Mashups-in-a-box

[...] All three of the above examples of Titanium+Plus partners have listings in our API directory, and there are plenty more where they came from. With both the mobile app and the web service API ecosystems blossoming, positioning itself as a [...]

March 28th, 2011
at 5:22 am
Comment by: Links della settimana #12-2011 « Avventure sul Web

[...] 3,000 Web APIs: Trends From a Quickly Growing Directory [8 mar 2011] – ProgrammableWeb has reached a major milestone by adding its 3,000th web service API to our API directory. We’ve come a long way when you consider there were only 105 listed at the end of 2005. As we’ve noted previously, the growth rate of APIs doubled, which led to an influx of new services. Below are some of the trends we’ve spotted as the directory marks a new high. [...]

April 11th, 2011
at 1:48 am
Comment by: Links della settimana #13-2011 « Avventure sul Web

[...] Web: 3000 APIs and Growing [8 mar 2011] by Kin Lane – Congratulations to ProgrammableWeb for hitting the 3000th API in their [...]

May 24th, 2011
at 1:01 pm
Comment by: Thanks ProgrammableWeb Sponsors

[...] has seen tremendous growth, as we shot past 3,000 APIs in our directory. Our sponsors and partners enable us to have the top-notch writing and editing staff we do to [...]

May 25th, 2011
at 9:47 am
Comment by: API Business Models: Then and Now

[...] six years and those same business models exist, but there’s a lot more detail, as the now 3,000+ APIs have refined the ways an API can make [...]

July 25th, 2011
at 1:53 pm
Comment by: weight loss

nice post…thank you

August 23rd, 2011
at 7:12 am
Comment by: Brands in the age of APIs «

[...] are everywhere these days, and we should all be pretty happy that fact. APIs make the internet awesome. [...]

August 23rd, 2011
at 7:30 am
Comment by: Brands in the age of the API. « Sad Zombies

[...] are everywhere these days, and we should be rejoicing. APIs make the internet even more awesome. They are a set [...]

September 16th, 2011
at 5:33 pm
Comment by: Open API Growth: a Visualization

[...] of today, our directory contains 3,904 APIs. In March there were only 3,000. We have already added more than all of 2010. Tags: Site News Subscribe:RSSTwitterFacebook [...]

September 19th, 2011
at 2:42 am
Comment by: Open API Growth: a Visualization – API Marketing

[...] of today, our directory contains 3,904 APIs. In March there were only 3,000. We have already added more than all of [...]

September 19th, 2011
at 4:16 am
Comment by: suresh

I Should Make a Website With SMS Support Feature.So Please Give Me a Suggestion?

September 22nd, 2011
at 12:01 am
Comment by: Early Winners and Losers of the Platform Wars

[...] formats are an increasing trend. Over 70% of all APIs in ProgrammableWeb’s API Directory are restful, increasingly at the expense of SOAP. More than 55% of those same APIs support JSON output, with 20% opting not to offer XML at all. [...]

October 3rd, 2011
at 12:01 am
Comment by: 4,000 Web APIs: What’s Hot and What’s Next?

[...] milestone in our API directory: we now list 4,000 of them. It’s only been six months since we toasted the 3,000th. And, as we’ve said before, the site ended its first year, 2005, listing only 105 APIs. The [...]

October 13th, 2011
at 8:14 am
Comment by: Platform Thinking - Alex Barnett blog

[...] nature. The brilliance of Bezos was to realize this strategic insight long before web APIs became as popular as they have become. Posted: Oct 13 2011, 09:03 AM by alexbarnett | with no comments Filed under: Web 2.0, [...]

October 21st, 2011
at 3:04 pm
Comment by: The Increasing Importance of APIs in Web Development | linuxin.ro

[...] March 8th, 2011, they announced that they had reached a major milestone: the 3,000th Web API had been [...]

October 21st, 2011
at 5:10 pm
Comment by: Web Development articles, tutorials, help » Blog Archive » The Increasing Importance of APIs in Web Development

[...] March 8th, 2011, they announced that they had reached a major milestone: the 3,000th Web API had been [...]

October 21st, 2011
at 5:12 pm
Comment by: The Increasing Importance of APIs in Web Development | Shadowtek | Hosting and Design Solutions

[...] March 8th, 2011, they announced that they had reached a major milestone: the 3,000th Web API had been [...]

October 21st, 2011
at 9:28 pm
Comment by: The Increasing Importance of APIs in Web Development « Fast Ninja Blog by Freelanceful – Web Design | Coding | Freelancing

[...] March 8th, 2011, they announced that they had reached a major milestone: the 3,000th Web API had been [...]

October 22nd, 2011
at 3:56 am
Comment by: IOS world of development » The Increasing Importance of APIs in Web Development

[...] March 8th, 2011, they announced that they had reached a major milestone: the 3,000th Web API had been [...]

October 22nd, 2011
at 5:41 am
Comment by: The Increasing Importance of APIs in Web Development | Web Design Northamptonshire

[...] March 8th, 2011, they announced that they had reached a major milestone: the 3,000th Web API had been [...]

October 22nd, 2011
at 6:11 am
Comment by: The Increasing Importance of APIs in Web Development – blog

[...] March 8th, 2011, they announced that they had reached a major milestone: the 3,000th Web API had been [...]

October 22nd, 2011
at 8:40 am
Comment by: The Increasing Importance of APIs in Web Development

[...] March 8th, 2011, they announced that they had reached a major milestone: the 3,000th Web API had been [...]

October 22nd, 2011
at 1:59 pm
Comment by: Tutorial from Net Tuts – The Increasing Importance of APIs in Web Development | Lethalia

[...] March 8th, 2011, they announced that they had reached a major milestone: the 3,000th Web API had been [...]

October 23rd, 2011
at 9:39 am
Comment by: The Increasing Importance of APIs in Web Development | Designer Malaysia

[...] March 8th, 2011, they announced that they had reached a major milestone: the 3,000th Web API had been [...]

October 31st, 2011
at 3:13 pm
Comment by: API as Product Companies Join Forces

[...] The trend of APIs as products is something we’ve been following for some time. No longer does an API need to support a service. The API itself is the service. These two companies have been prime examples, each called out in our analysis when ProgrammableWeb hit 3,000 APIs. [...]

December 9th, 2011
at 8:37 am
Comment by: Yeni Twitter ile neler geliyor? | M. Serdar Kuzuloğlu

[...] veriyordu. Ama kullanıcıların beklentisi hep arttığından bu boşluğu uzun süre (internetin genel eğilimine paralel olarak) harici uygulamalar üstlendi.Twitter bu gidişe son vereceğinin ilk sinyalini [...]

December 9th, 2011
at 8:43 am
Comment by: Platform Thinking - Alex Barnett blog

[...] Nowadays, it might be considered conventional wisdom for "Platform Thinking", but to truly embracing this philosophy – and make it real – first requires the realization that in the long term, Platform companies beat Product companies every time. Realizing that, then Platform Thinking and Platform Doing should become second nature. The brilliance of Bezos was to realize this strategic insight long before web APIs became as popular as they have become. [...]

December 9th, 2011
at 1:16 pm
Comment by: Yeni Twitter Kullanma Ve Ayarları | Gogul.Org

[...] veriyordu. Ama kullanıcıların beklentisi hep arttığından bu boşluğu uzun süre (internetin genel eğilimine paralel olarak) harici uygulamalar [...]

December 13th, 2011
at 1:31 pm
Comment by: Ahmet Kadir BULAN » Blog Archive

[...] veriyordu. Ama kullanıcıların beklentisi hep arttığından bu boşluğu uzun süre (internetin genel eğilimine paralel olarak) harici [...]

December 28th, 2011
at 10:01 am
Comment by: 2011 API Trends: Spotted By The Experts

[...] we look back at 2011, it was a big year for APIs. We passed both the 3,000 API and 4,000 API marks within six months. In our discussions with various companies, it seems like [...]

February 23rd, 2012
at 11:24 am
Comment by: Web API集 | c-ajax.com

[...] また、Adam DuVander氏が解説するWeb APIの動向はこちら(2011年3月の記事)。 [...]

July 15th, 2012
at 4:00 pm
Comment by: Macroblog Base10 » Platform Thinking

[...] Nowadays, it might be considered conventional wisdom for “Platform Thinking”, but to truly embracing this philosophy – and make it real – first requires the realization that in the long term, Platform companies beat Product companies every time. Realizing that, then Platform Thinking and Platform Doing should become second nature. The brilliance of Bezos was to realize this strategic insight long before web APIs became as popular as they have become. [...]

August 23rd, 2012
at 1:01 pm
Comment by: 7,000 APIs: Twice as Many as This Time Last Year

[...] further analysis of API milestones, see our coverage of 6,000, 5,000, 4,000, 3,000 and 1,000 APIs. Tags: Popular, PopularAllTime, Site News Subscribe:RSSTwitterFacebook « [...]

December 8th, 2012
at 2:48 pm
Comment by: Weekly links #12-2011 | neetpiq

[...] 3,000 Web APIs: Trends From a Quickly Growing Directory [8 mar 2011] – ProgrammableWeb has reached a major milestone by adding its 3,000th web service API to our API directory. We’ve come a long way when you consider there were only 105 listed at the end of 2005. As we’ve noted previously, the growth rate of APIs doubled, which led to an influx of new services. Below are some of the trends we’ve spotted as the directory marks a new high. [...]

December 8th, 2012
at 2:52 pm
Comment by: Weekly links #13-2011 | neetpiq

[...] Web: 3000 APIs and Growing [8 mar 2011] by Kin Lane – Congratulations to ProgrammableWeb for hitting the 3000th API in their [...]

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John Musser
Founder, ProgrammableWeb

Adam DuVander
Executive Editor, ProgrammableWeb. Author, Map Scripting 101. Lover, APIs.