Software companies must grow their capacity to communicate, integrate, and connect their products and services with different software applications. Application Programming Interfaces (API) are crucial to doing it properly, flexibly, securely, and in a controled way. So let’s take a deep dive to understand the basics of API integration and API integration testing services.
What is an API?
The digital world is just an expanse of interaction and communication between applications. There is a huge problem when a product cannot participate correctly and efficiently in the worldwide give and take of automated endpoint dialogue.
An Application Programming Interface, or API, is a set of tools, definitions, and protocols used to integrate services and apps. The interface facilitates connectivity and communication between two or more software applications. In simple words, the API layer of any application is the channel that connects the client to the server and helps drive business processes.
The API allows software products and services to communicate with others without designing a new infrastructure each time. As a result, it’s possible to offer a better user experience.
APIs enable users to use an app or software by consulting, changing and storing data from different systems without entering them. The purpose is to exchange data between different systems.
Two examples of using an API
For example, a marketing software gets data from a potential client, and by means of an API the information is delivered to the CRM software. At this time, there is an exchange of data to automate a manual process.
One of the most common examples of APIs is when we need to issue an invoice to complete a customer’s order. In this case, the API can connect the company's management system to the bank's receipt generation system. Because of the API, we only need to enter the data once, and we can finish the process with a few clicks.
Benefits of using an API
APIs allow software products and services to communicate with others without the need to know how they are implemented. This simplifies application development and saves time, money and other resources. In addition, APIs provide flexibility, streamline the design, administration, and use of applications, and offer opportunities for innovation, which is ideal when designing new tools and products or managing current ones.
APIs can be private (only for internal use), shared (with specific partners to get additional incomes), or public (external entities can develop applications that interact with our APIs to foster innovation). If the API is public, we can expect advantages such as:
Creation of new revenue channels or expansion of existing ones.
Increase in the reach of the brand.
Open innovation and a higher level of efficiency through external collaboration and development.
What can be done by using APIs?
APIs are a vital part of agile integration. They improve data transfer between applications and systems to boost communication.
For example, they enable collaboration between business and IT by simplifying how developers integrate new application elements into an existing architecture. Business needs often evolve rapidly in response to ever-changing digital markets, where a competitor can upend an entire industry with a new app. Therefore, it is crucial to support rapid deployment and development of innovative services to remain competitive.
To put it shortly, APIs provide access to resources while maintaining security and control. You decide how it is accessed and who is granted access.
Advantages of sharing your API
Shared APIs have positive effects, whether with chosen partners or with the whole world. The more you partner with others through APIs, the more exposure your brand gains, regardless of your company's advertising efforts.
For example, suppose you decide to develop and use a public API to give access to your technology to everyone. In that case, you are encouraging other developers to create an ecosystem around your API. The more people use your technology, the more people will be willing to do business with you.
What do API integration and API testing mean?
API integration refers to the seamless connectivity that enables business organizations to automate processes and embed or share data between different systems and applications.
On the other hand, API testing involves testing the programming interface and then running integration tests to analyze the application's reliability, security and functionality.
Why it is so important to test your API
When an API is customer-facing and exposed to end-users, it becomes a product. If it breaks, then it puts not just one application at risk but jeopardizes the entire chain of business processes built around it.
Testing an API
API testing involves testing the programming interface directly and running integration tests to determine the application's functionality, reliability and security. Therefore, when deciding what to test with an API, it is essential to understand the different testing categories:
Security testing determines whether the API is effectively protected against malicious software.
Functional testing determines whether the endpoints meet the specific requirements.
Performance testing checks whether the API can respond to requests of specific sizes and can quickly revert to clients to satisfy system requirements.
Connectivity testing determines whether the API is operational and responds to pings and requests.
To test an API it is necessary to use a tool. The tool we use at uqality is Postman. This tool has a simple interface for generating the API's request and executing manual test cases on them. So, when executing the software or application code test, you need to know how to use the interface.
Different API test parameters and combinations should be carefully considered to ensure good API test coverage. This process can be streamlined by prioritizing release applications. By limiting an initial release to non-critical applications, you can see how the API is used and determine any configuration changes necessary ahead of a general release.
There is also the possibility of testing an API from the programming language. For example, we can design automatic tests using the programming language. It is crucial to keep in mind that when the APIs are updated you must test them again, and those who use them must check that everything works correctly.
Any changes in APIs require immediate updates to the test cases and automation scripts. These changes can be time and resource drains. You can spare the end-user drama by testing live applications in Beta before the general release. The best way to accommodate changes is to build expected delays into your initial QA plan.
The API integration test has to cope with change. As the process often runs parallel to development and bug reports, you must maintain the schema constantly updated.
Conclusions about API testing and its automation
At this point, it is essential to remember two things. First, the responsibility for testing the API lies with the API’s owner. And second, when APIs are exposed, they must provide specifications and have a user manual or similar.
At uqality, we affirm that it is easier to automate API testing than GUI testing. After testing them once manually, the ideal is to automate them. If you want to learn more about automation, we invite you to read our blog post about automation testing.