The API growth rate continues to double. In 2011, there were 2,031 APIs added to our API directory. Big companies added APIs, including the three major credit card companies in the US. But the biggest story was the continued social API growth. There are also some surprises in this year’s list of the most popular API categories and a big upset as for the first time Google Maps API was not the most popular API.
Today we’re marking another 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 whole web as a platform has come a long way and done so very quickly. There are some areas, such as social, which are incredibly popular. There’s also a lot of room for expansion, as industries like travel and retail have yet to fully embrace APIs. How soon will we mark the 5,000th?
Simplicity wins again. Much as there are more RESTful APIs than SOAP, XML-RPC or other protocols, JSON is gaining ground on the old favorite, XML. Last fall we said JSON is the developer’s choice and therefore it’s becoming the API provider’s choice, too. XML still wins overall, but more new APIs use JSON than XML. Of APIs we’ve seen in 2011, 20% only use JSON, meaning 1 in 5 are saying goodbye to XML.
We write a lot about the growth in the number of APIs on ProgrammableWeb. But how about usage? Some APIs see so many requests that they measure in billions. We refer to these companies as the API Billionaires Club. The image below, which comes from ProgrammableWeb Founder John Musser’s talk later today at Glue, shows the big names that make up this exclusive club.
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.
Was 2010 the year of the API? Some have claimed this each of the last five years, with the next always eclipsing the previous. There were 1,019 new APIs added to our API directory in 2010, two times the number added in 2009. Greater trends on the web are being played out, as social APIs were the most popular and the influence of mobile is clear.
Consuming APIs is something most developers–and even some non-developers–are doing most of the time. It’s becoming more common to build an API, in addition to using them. For all of those of you who are just getting your feet wet with this process, data portability service Gnip has shared a few pointers to keep you on the straight and narrow.
In an email newsletter to developers, Salesforce.com announced that a REST version of its API is on its way. While Salesforce is yet to provide details into this enhancement, the newsletter acknowledged that it will enable “simple HTTP and JSON as a possible output format, to make integrating with Force.com fast and easy.”
Indie rock band Arcade Fire used HTML5 and the Google Maps API in its latest video to transport us to the neighborhood we grew up in. Director Chris Milk worked with the Google Chrome team to blend music, art, and place into an interactive experience called The Wilderness Downtown. The video mashup takes us into the memories of our youth through Street View and 3D rendered map tiles.
One of the questions that I am most frequently asked regarding content APIs is “how can I make money with my API?” Before answering that question, however, it is important to ask for whom the API is designed. After all, the audiences for your API will determine what business opportunities exist.