API integration testing is the future. The digital world is really just an expanse of application interactions and communication. If your product cannot participate correctly and efficiently in the worldwide give and take of automated endpoint dialogue, it will break. Let’s do a deep dive to understand the basics of API integration.
What is API Integration?
An Application Programming Interface, or API, is the interface that helps facilitate connectivity and communication between two or more software applications. To put it in simple words, the API layer of any application is the channel that connects client to server, (one micro service to another) and helps drive business processes.
API integration refers to the seamless connectivity that helps business organizations to automate business processes, and embed and share data between different systems and applications. For instance, an app like TripAdvisor aggregates information about hotels and flights by calling on their APIs.
When an API is customer-facing, and is exposed to end-users, it becomes a product in itself. If it breaks, then it puts not just a single application at risk, but jeopardizes the entire chain of business processes built around it.
In today’s world, APIs are a necessity for modern enterprises. The question is not about the validity of having APIs, but more about the number of APIs that are required, and the process of creating and publishing them. This also leads to the aspect of testing and monitoring the APIs for their functionality.
How to test an API?
API testing involves testing the programming interface directly, as well as running integration tests to determine the functionality, reliability and security of the application. When determining what to test with an API, it's important to understand the different test categories:
- Security testing helps to determine 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 the system requirements.
- Connectivity determines whether the API is operational and is responding to pings and requests.
However, as with any aspect of QA, there are challenges associated with API testing. It takes time for your QA experts to become familiar with your API. There are limits to the number of test scenarios that can be completed against time constraints, resulting in the need to prioritize. There is also a heightened need to use the correct test case design and test framework to accommodate changes that occur ahead of the UI phase.
API integration testing is the future, but you have to overcome the following challenges in order to experience it.
The API Integration Volume Challenge
One of the most common frustrations with API integration testing is the sheer volume of input parameter combinations. APIs cope with intersystem communication by assigning values to parameters and assessing these through data requests. In a complex project, it is necessary to test all possible parameter request combinations in search of problems pertaining to specific configurations. Every time you add a parameter, you radically increase the number of possible combinations.
To ensure good API test coverage, different API test parameters and their combinations should be carefully considered. This process can be streamlined by prioritizing release applications. By containing 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.
The API Call Sequence Challenge
Often, API calls need to flow in an inflexible order before they will work. It requires a sequence where the request of one element is dependent on the response of the previous one. This solution depends on your test framework. Your test should cover end-to-end API scenarios so your engineers can visualize your API call flow and integrate them faster—without causing detrimental knock-on effects.
Your QA expert should have experience with a variety of different tools and frameworks and bring an agnostic approach to your project so you can implement the right combination of API testing solutions for your product.
The API Schema Updates Challenge
Finally, your API integration test has to cope with change. As the process often runs parallel with development and bug report actions, your schema has to be maintained constantly. Any changes in APIs, such as the addition of new features or any new parameters, require immediate updates to the test cases and automation scripts.
These changes can be time and resource drains, often leading to wholesale downtime. You can spare the end user drama by testing live applications in Beta prior to general release, but the best way to accommodate change is to build expected delays into your initial QA plan.
Change is going to happen. Weakness and fault are going to arise. That is the purpose of the QA process. It is best to expect the unexpected on all projects.
The Data Tracking Challenge
Your API integration testing has to work correctly with your data tracking and system monitoring services in order to analyze response and performance. This process is often left until late in the QA process but has to be able to monitor call response across a number of geographical locations to ensure their robustness.
When writing API test cases, the endpoint should be explicitly declared. This kind of regulation has to be written into your QA process at the design phase to ensure it is not neglected.
Robust API Integration Testing Is the Future
While we are thinking about the design phase, several best practices should guide you through your API integration testing. You should always ensure:
- API test scenarios are self-contained and independent wherever possible
- Automation tests cover end-to-end scenarios
- Testing covers areas that cannot be tested through the UI
- API function calls are prioritized by application under testing workflow
API integration testing requires careful planning. Your QA expert should be able to help you map out the API testing phase ahead.
API integration testing goes to the core of your product’s functionality. That functionality is what determines the end-user experience. That user experience is how the success or failure of your product is judged.
The scale, structure, and change experienced during API integration testing make it one of the most complex and controversial uses of automation testing. The rewards, however, are better quality products produced quicker. It is a challenge well worth undertaking.
QASource can provide you with API testing experts who can guide you through all the critical establishment phases that ultimately define your product’s success or failure. How your API communicates with the wider digital world is crucial to your user experience. Make sure you get your QA right. Contact us for a free quote or call +1.925.271.5555 today to find an outsourcing solution for your critical software testing.