What Programming Language is Most Popular with APIs?

Adam DuVander, June 3rd, 2013

An API can be created in any programming language. Similarly, most APIs can be implemented regardless of the technology used by the consuming developer. However, since many APIs make client libraries available, we can take a stab at the most popular programming languages for consuming APIs.

ProgrammableWeb tracks vendor-supplied and community-created API kits, language-specific wrapper libraries. Since both are based on coder demand, we lumped them together to determine the most popular languages for the libraries:

  • PHP (47)
  • Python (46)
  • Ruby (44)
  • .NET / C# (38)
  • Java (37)
  • Perl (26)
  • ColdFusion (12)
  • Node / JavaScript (8)
  • ActionScript (6)

The top three are essentially tied ad aren’t particularly surprising. Python and Ruby are popular languages on the web, so they’re bound to also top the list. Of the 10 most popular RESTful APIs, only Last.fm and Delicious do not link to libraries for these three popular languages.

Enterprises show their relevance with .NET/C# and Java rounding out the top five. Perl is the idiosyncratic former classmate who will always go to the reunions. Older languages that never hit the mainstream, Cold Fusion and ActionScript, keep their place near the bottom of the list. Up-and-comer Node.js also sits near the bottom, along with its cousin JavaScript. It should be noted that if we included JavaScript APIs as client libraries, the historically client-side language would have far and away been number one.

Of course, there are just a samplling, since not every API profile can be totally up-to-date (but we certainly try!). Though these client libraries help decrease a devloper’s time to Hello World, the beauty of most APIs is that they’re language independent. Just make your calls to a REST endpoint–or, okay, maybe SOAP–and you’re set. But these libraries speed things up and these statistics from the directory show what languages are used more than others.

If you provided an API, what client libraries would you provide?

Adam DuVander is Developer Communications Director for SendGrid and Contributing Editor of ProgrammableWeb. Previously he edited this site and wrote for Wired. You can follow him on Twitter.

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