We find ourselves, hard though it is to believe, already in the second half of May and again the time has already arrived at discourse the State of the APIs over the last seven days.

We recently launched API.expert as a simple way to provide everybody with insights into the API economy and the leading APIs in different categories in particular. The basic service is free and will remain free, but other, related services will be built on top of it, including your very own API.expert dashboards if you want them!

Each week, month and year we’ll look at the APIs we track in a variety of sectors for their quality (using our patented (US Patent 10,644,962) CASC score, which allows you at a glance to see the performance of an API and compare it to other ones) as well as factors like uptime and availability.

If something is missing that you think should be here, don’t hesitate to drop us a line!

Now, onto what the past week tells us about the state of the world of APIs in the middle of May 2020.

API Performance Headlines

We look at over 200 APIs but pull all the metrics together to give you a general feeling for the service quality for an organization’s APIs in a particular category.

We do see that certain providers consistently vie for top spot in their category including GitHub and Google with others doing less well such as Oasis Dex and the NHS.

CASC score: Top performers

Week ending May 18, 2020

Category    Organization    CASC Score
Corporate InfrastructureBox958
Covid-1Coronavirus Data API (nubentos.com)918
Cryptocurrency ExchangesCoinpaprika949
PSD2 BanksNordea Bank990
SearchGoogle937
Social NetworksGoogle956
UK Open Banking (Open Data)Bank of Ireland976
UK GovernmentGOV.UK979
US GovernmentDepartment of Justice930
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Four changes this week:

  • Box replaces GitHub in Corporate Infrastructure
  • Google replaces Twitter in Social Networks
  • GOV.UK replaces Police.UK in UK Government
  • Census Bureau replaces Department of Justice in US Government

For the second week in a row, the overall title goes to a private sector organization, with Nordea Bank in PSD2 Banks retaining the overall title with an even more impressive CASC score than last week of 990.

A CASC score of over 900 is very good and one of 950 or more exceptional. Five of the nine categories are headed by organization with a CASC score of 950 or more this week. Sustaining a CASC score of >925 over a period of several weeks is a good showing and congratulations to those organizations that achieved it.

Top performers by latency

Week ending May 18, 2020

 

Category    Organization    Median latency
Corporate InfrastructureMicrosoft Office225 ms
Covid-19CDC tools (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)192 ms
Cryptocurrency ExchangesFTX212 ms
PSD2 BanksNordea Bank175 ms
SearchGoogle379 ms
Social NetworksGoogle117 ms
UK Open Banking (Open Data)HSBC86 ms
UK GovernmentPolice.UK83 ms
US GovernmentDepartment of Justice96 ms
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Just one change again this week in this category with CDC tools (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) knocking WHO (World Health Organization) off the top spot in Covid-19.

An important caveat: medians can be misleading! An API might have a fast median latency but produce many slow outliers. These won’t affect the median, but they mean that users can experience many calls that were unacceptably slow. So just being fast isn’t everything. You have to be reliable too if you want to have good APIs and get a high CASC score!

As so often, FTX tops the Cryptocurrency Exchange category, but they are just fifteenth overall with a CASC score of 817. But it is still worth remembering that it’s no good just being fast if you are flaky, although being fast does help!

Worst quality across all categories

Week ending April 20, 2020

 

CategoryOrganizationCASC score
Corporate InfrastructureNobody below 800!
Covid-19General Services Administration708
Cryptocurrency ExchangesOasis Dex536
PSD2 BanksNobody below 800!
SearchNobody below 800!
Social NetworksNobody below 800!
UK GovernmentNHS504
UK Open Banking (Open Data)Halifax771
US GovernmentDepartment of Commerce627
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Three changes this week with the Department of Commerce swapping with the Federal Aviation Administration in US Government. Halifax is bottom in UK Open Banking (Open Data), so that category cannot manage a second week with all APIs in the Green Zone. NHS takes the overall loser award.

Something of interest

All of the UK Open Banking (Open Data) APIs are doing exactly the same thing or rather exactly equivalent things (each bank obviously has different branch and ATM locations and slightly different commercial credit card details). If we look at the three bottom APIs though we see something interesting.

API Performance API Expert APImetrics
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Halifax is the slowest of any API we monitor. HSBC is the fastest.

Halifax is bottom of the category and HSBC third from the bottom, only separated by 30 CASC score points, but by more than 1 second in median latency.

As the CASC score makes clear, the quality of an API depends on several factors and weakness in one area can be compensated by strengths in others. HSBC is fast, but has quite a high percentage of outliers and also the latency has a large standard deviation, but it still manages to just creep into the Green Zone of high quality APIs.

Halifax and its sister brand Lloyds Bank are in the Amber Zone (by one point in the case of Lloyds). The difference in latency is down to the difference in processing time. HSBC cache results at the gateway and only sometimes pull them off the backend (thus the high number of outliers and the high standard deviation for HSBC).

Lloyds and Halifax always pull the results off the backend and thus have a high process time. If we contrast these three APIs with perennial performer, Bank of Ireland, we see that having a low percentage of outliers is the key differentiator between quality that is problematic and that is superb. This is why it is vital to ensure that every one of your API’s metrics is performing optimally (high availability, low latency, few outliers and a low standard deviation).

See you again in a week as we assess matters as we head towards the end of May!