API Providers With the Most SDKs and Sample Code Listings

Editor's note: Be sure to check out our research on the overall growth of Web APIs since 2005. At the time of writing, this is the most recent data we have, but check the research page to see if we have a more updated article. We will be continually updating the growth chart.

A few months back we looked at the size of the SDK and Sample Code directories, noting that we list over 5,000 SDKs and more than 3,000 code examples. At this size we can start to pull out some interesting data. This month we are exploring which providers are most represented across both directories.

Before jumping to the results, it’s helpful to first understand how our SDK and Sample Code directories work. When ProgrammableWeb refers to an SDK, we are referring to technologies that allow developers to consume APIs. Providers use many names for these technologies  including wrappers, libraries and clients but at the end of the day, if it allows you to consume a specific API, it gets placed into the SDK directory. This stance is not an ideological one, but instead one brought on for a practical reason; we want to enable meaningful and accurate power searches of our directories (a forthcoming feature of ProgrammableWeb!).

For any API in our directory, our data model allows us to list official SDKs offered by the provider as well as any third party SDKs that come from someone else other than the API provider. Some providers, such as Twilio, will list third party SDKs alongside their own but this is rare. On ProgrammableWeb, when you click on the SDK tab of an API profile, for example Facebook Graph, you get a list of all the SDKs available.

Another benefit of our data model is that we can list SDKs for lesser used languages such as R or Haskell. Oftentimes API providers will focus on the core languages that their audience uses and for good reason, it’s not easy to maintain a large number of SDKs. In cases like these, third party developers often step in and offer their own SDKs as open source. We can capture those and further, our model has provisions for both the code repo (re: Github) and the language specific distribution channel (ie: RubyGems.org for Ruby, CRAN for R, npmjs.org for Node, etc.).

SDK profile showing links to code repo and distribution channel

API Providers with the Most SDK Listings

Now that you understand how the data model backing the directories works, it’s time to take a look at which providers are offering their audience the most tools to consume their APIs. Below is a chart showing the API providers that have the most official SDKs listed in our directory.

This chart shows some of the heavy hitters of the API economy including Google, Microsoft, Paypal and Amazon. It’s interesting to see Mapbox, a provider of open source mapping tools ranked so highly. Mapping does remain one of the most popular API categories so perhaps this shouldn’t be too surprising. A look at the Mapbox API profile shows an impressive list of SDKs both from the company as well as third party developers.

Perhaps the most interesting result of this analysis was the sheer number of third party SDKs represented in the directory. Most of these SDKs come from independent developers who are unaffiliated with the API provider.

API Provider Number of SDK Listings
Independent Developer 2,678
Google 123
Microsoft 66
Mapbox 48
Paypal 36
Amazon 32
MyWakes 28
Contentful 28

With the SDK directory having well over 5,000 entries, we see that those SDKs attributed to independent developers make up approximately half of the listings. That’s a huge number that illustrates just how engaged the developer community truly is.

Providers with the Most Sample Code Listings

Much like SDKs, Sample Code profiles are backed by the data model we described above which allows us to break down which providers are best represented.

Once again, we see a mix of familiar names and unexpected ones. Google, Microsoft and IBM lead the way. Their combined sample code listings make up roughly 10% of the more than 3,000 listings we currently have. Just like with SDKs, independent developers - with nearly 200 entries - step in to fill any voids left by providers.

This directory is still maturing as mentioned in a previous research article and there are bound to be some familiar names added to this list as time goes on. The chart above gives us a good first look at which API providers are doing a good job of helping their developers succeed.

Our SDK and Sample Code directories are growing rapidly but there are tons of resources that we haven’t yet captured. If you see one that we missed, go ahead and submit it using one of the links below.

Wendell Santos is the editor at ProgrammableWeb.com. You can reach him at wendell@programmableweb.com. Connect to Wendell on Twitter at @wendell78 or Google+.