Qapitol QA

Making the Best of API Economy with Robust Testing

Table of Contents

An idea can change your life!

Once a tagline for a telecom brand, it is now the reality of today’s idea-driven economy. You no longer require a draining marketing budget or mammoth physical infrastructure to start a business. All you need is a great idea; the rest can be managed with technology and APIs!

Yes. You heard it right. APIs.

APIs have become the ubiquitous enabler of seamless data flow across platforms and systems, thereby

Opening newer and (with lower entry barrier) sources of revenue for API consumers,
Creating better brand stickiness for API providers, and
Becoming a one-stop solution for multiple end-user needs.

Whoa! This sounds like the Cinderella dream. Too good to be true!

Well. Not entirely, though. Dig deeper, and you will know the challenges this highly promising piece of software brings, which feel unconquerable, but are they?

To answer this, let us peel off the top 3 challenges of the API economy and how they can be resolved with a robust and consistent testing approach. But before that, a bit about the basics!

API economy: While there are several definitions of API economy floating around, for the sake of this discussion, we will go with the definition provided by Alex Walling, CTO of Rapid, in his blog post

“The API Economy encompasses all activity related to the production, consumption, and trade of APIs amongst businesses.”

API providers and API consumers: API providers expose their systems, data, and platforms to API consumers through their APIs. For example – Consider the different login options when logging into a new web/mobile app.

API consumers are the makers of mobile/web applications that assimilate APIs provided by the API providers to build an integrated solution for the end user.

Now that we are through with the basics let us discuss the top 3 challenges that give the stakeholders of the API economy sleepless nights and ways to resolve them.

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#1 Plugging the Leak: Tightening Security Early On 

The rise of APIs has been accompanied by a parallel increase in API-targeted security breaches. The hacker’s love for them is a no-brainer because they are the connective tissue among various applications. Accessing critical customer data and systems by exploiting their hidden vulnerabilities is easy. Financially, these loopholes cost businesses up to $75 billion annually, as per TechWire Asia estimates.

While organizations spend many resources to manage API security, more must be done to plug their inherent loopholes before production. A recent Gartner report states that by 2025, only less than 50% of enterprise APIs will be managed. This means that more needs to be done much earlier in the game.

A strong and consistent API testing framework can help you adopt a shift-left approach required to highlight the weak links early on and fix them faster and at a larger scale, thereby minimizing their leakage into production.

#2 Overcoming the Challenges of Manual Testing of APIs – Speed and Scale

If you are building APIs that will be part of smaller projects, it’s okay to go with manual testing since the testing scope will be less, and so will the repetitions. However, suppose your APIs are part of large, complex workflows that will scale significantly over time. In that case, API automation will give you much-needed flexibility by enabling speed and accuracy in your testing cycle.

With APIs, the technical challenges tend to multiply exponentially in the form of

  • Creating and maintaining test cases regularly,
  • Sequencing API calls correctly,
  • Managing response time assertions,
  • Monitoring and updating the schema regularly,
  • Addressing integration issues with existing development tools,
  • Validating API performance in different scenarios and use cases,
  • Including API dependencies to get a better idea of their performance when integrated with 3rd party systems etc.

With test automation, you will be able to test a significantly large number of input parameter combinations, accommodate updates in the test cases and scripts on the go and manage frictionless integration with other systems – all of this at an unmatchable speed and with godlike precision at scale. No wonder test automation is the common choice of organizations aiming at re-aligning themselves as API-first.

#3 Augmenting the Customer Experience – Performance Meets Trust

Your offering is one continuous solution that caters to many of your users’ needs. They often do not recognize where one system ends and another one begins. This insight empowers you in 2 ways.

You have the power to shape and refine the user experience in this whole journey.
You can leverage it to improve your offering’s stickiness and gradually work toward gaining omnipresence in your user’s life (in an earthlier sense, of course!)

While APIs help you expand the breadth of your offerings to an unimaginable extent, managing the scope and ensuring it remains a seamlessly integrated experience for your customer is a complex feat. It requires a great product design and an equally strong validation system.

Test automation’s capability of providing deeper test coverage at a grand scale and with superior accuracy makes it ideal for testing the APIs’ functionality, security, performance, and coordination with external systems.

Its easy integration with your CI/CD pipeline helps you with faster product releases and superior quality. Thus, it indirectly augments your efforts to scale your product and improve its recall score.

And this brings us back to where we started this discussion – APIs and their power to expand your revenue, improve stickiness and offer greater value to your audience – all of this with the right testing strategy and execution.

A 2009 MIT study highlighted that agile firms increase their revenue 37% faster and grow profits by 30% compared to their non-agile counterparts. A decade later, the only change to this statistic would be comparing agile and more agile firms and what value this small piece of software unlocks for each. Where do you see your firm in this range?

Ensure a robust software application.

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