API (Application Programming Interface) has taken over modern software development. There are 19.1 Million API developers worldwide, and 90% of them utilize APIs. 30% of the development time is for API development, and the value of the API management market will be $5.3 billion by 2023. APIs are the present and future of software development. Therefore, testing them is essential.
It’s a software development practice where you test the API to check functionality, reliability, performance, security, and interoperability. It gets performed at a business layer, where the app logic resides. Therefore, incorporating API testing can ensure a fully-functional app, reduce time and cost, guarantee faster release, improve test case coverage and stability, etc.
As with every technology, technique, or methodology, API testing comes with many challenges that one has to overcome to reap rich rewards. This blog will provide you with a list of some of the most common API testing challenges and how to overcome them.
API testing challenges and ways to overcome them:
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1. Getting familiar with APIs
Challenge: The first challenge is getting used to the approach of API testing and how you can make it work to your advantage. Most QA teams are well-versed in traditional software testing approaches. However, API testing is an art in itself, and it demands a deep understanding of the phenomenon. Therefore, you need to educate your team about API testing in detail and give them exercises on a pilot project—also, conduct daily or weekly training sessions for QA teams.
Solution: You can develop a solid API testing automation strategy only when each team member has the skill set to execute it. So, start providing training on what API testing is, its benefits, and how it impacts your application’s business layer. Then, regularly review the team’s work on API testing by applying rules and guidelines you’ve created for the team. Also, hire QA people with knowledge and familiarity with API testing. They can make the team more versatile.
2. Having a track of all your APIs
Challenge: Modern software development is one massive network of APIs. There are hundreds of thousands of APIs involved in one software development project. Tracking all APIs becomes challenging. All APIs used in the application development are independent of each other.
So, in the middle of the project, it would never be an appropriate solution if you start finding the APIs used in your application. When the QA team begins API testing processes, they need information about how many APIs developers used in the project? How often were they updated? And What was the impact of those changes on the application’s functionality?
Solution: There is a one-stop solution for all this mess. Create an API inventory and tell developers to update them regularly whenever they add, update, or delete any API right through the length and breadth of the software engineering.
3. Designing appropriate test cases
Challenge: The test case design is the key to success in any software testing, especially API testing. It directly impacts application logic and verifies if it’s working correctly or not. Unfortunately, it generally happens that QA teams develop test cases for API testing by guessing what they may need to review in an API. Unfortunately, this guessing game comes to bite you at the time of launch as you’re far away from actual scenarios, so your product may encounter an error that you don’t expect. So, how to design appropriate test cases is an issue.
Solution: The solution is to design test cases by keeping your end-users in mind what they will feel like when they interact with any of your APIs, how you can enhance their digital experience, and the components that are becoming the bottleneck to that. These detailed analyses will provide an objective perspective of where you stand in test case creation and what more you can do to make it more effective. Therefore, start working on these aspects as soon as possible.
4. Prioritizing test cases
Challenge: We have analyzed how test case creation is essential and can impact the effectiveness of API testing. One of the aspects that makes a massive impact on test case creation is prioritizing test cases. You need to know what test cases need to get tested first and what at the end. Various API testing tools help cover most test case scenarios, but no tool can cover every possibility. Unfortunately, that’s where most QA teams haven’t found their feet.
Solution: The solution is simple. Give high priority to the test cases that directly impact the customer experience. It means the test cases related to all core functionalities of the application should get tested. For this purpose, you need to visualize yourself as an end-user and try to take a tour of your product. During this analysis, find out the areas where customer interaction is the most; that will become your topmost priority. It will help you to increase testing efficiency.
5. Sequencing API calls
Challenge: If you have experience working with multi-threaded apps, you must know the importance of the API call sequence. In such applications, API calls have to occur in a specific order to provide a feature to the user. So, the QA teams often get challenged with maintaining the sequence of API calls. For example, if a request for returning user profile information gets executed before the user profile gets created, it will fail. Another famous example of this is location mapping, where to place correct location pins on the map, a call to create a map must run first before the pin gets placed. So, the question is, how to solve the sequencing problem?
Solution: As per the API testing experts, an effective way to deal with this problem is to make a flowchart of API sequences. It will help you visualize the API calls and allow developers to build calls that align with flowcharts. So, developers can create and integrate API calls without causing issues in the sequence. Furthermore, having a blueprint of the API call sequence at the beginning makes development streamlined and sequencing validation for the tester easier.
6. Using a correct testing approach
Challenge: Choosing the correct approach for testing is paramount. Executing it in real-time becomes quite a challenge for QA teams if you don’t have a plan in place. Leave beginners; even the most experienced QA engineers can’t run API tests if they don’t have the required resources. Not having a clear strategy and then searching for help in the middle of API testing is a terrible practice to follow, and that becomes a massive obstacle for any QA team worldwide.
Solution: The testing approach should contain a detailed plan on what resources you need for API testing. Then, based on that survey, ensure you have all resources before the testing phase begins. Also, verify tools, libraries, and frameworks are up-to-date. These practices will help you get maximum throughput out of your testing cycle and ensure a faster release for the product.
API testing is not a lap of luxury where you sit back, relax and wait for things to happen. Instead, it requires a dedicated effort from the C-level executives to middle managers and executives. It’s a collaborative effort that will test your commitment to the cause and challenge you in more than one way before you reach your goal. This article highlights obstacles one must face during API testing and provides simple and effective ways to deal with them. We hope that the testing fraternity will be able to enhance their knowledge base with this article and use these learnings to their advantage in future API testing-related projects.
About the Writer
Hardik Shah is a Tech Consultant at Simform, a firm that provides software development services. He leads large-scale mobility programs that cover platforms, solutions, governance, standardization, and best practices.