How to Overcome Challenges in API Testing
As with any endeavor, testing APIs has its obstacles. Here is a comprehensive guide to the common API testing challenges and how you can overcome them.
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In this interconnected age, integration is essential for software applications. Your users expect instant access to the information they want, even if that data resides within another application. That’s why APIs have become so integral in presenting a seamless user experience across software apps.
That is, if the APIs deliver results correctly. Any issue with an API can halt users from continuing to use your product.
This, of course, is not an issue when QA engineers run API test cases correctly. A thorough API testing approach can validate the performance of your API framework before deployment to prevent any defects from reaching the production environment.
Just as QA teams run into challenges in manual testing, so too are there several challenges faced in API testing. Is there a way for software companies to be ready to tackle those obstacles? Our expert API engineers have compiled a strategic guide so that your team knows how to prevent and overcome API testing challenges.
What Are APIs?
Application Programming Interfaces – often abbreviated as APIs – are sets of functions that permit your software application to access data and interact with external software systems or components. An API framework acts as a go-between so that your software application and chosen third-party system can support cross-collaboration and data integration across both platforms.
Popular examples of APIs include logging into an application with a user’s social media profile, paying online using PayPal, and local weather snippets on search engines.
What Is API Testing?
API testing is the process of verifying the health of every API within your software system. This API testing approach confirms that the functionality, security, performance, and reliability of all APIs perform as expected.
Unlike UI testing, QA teams can run API test cases without interacting with the user interface of your software product – with the help of API testing tools, of course. Instead, QA engineers focus on testing the business logic layer of the API framework. By going beyond the user’s experience in testing your application, your QA team can resolve many challenges in manual testing by first running API tests.
How to Overcome API Testing Challenges
Unlike challenges in manual testing that occur within the user interface, QA teams must tackle API issues within the API framework and business logic layer. While this API testing approach can often prevent UI issues before manual testing, executing API test cases without interacting with your product dashboard presents its own set of obstacles.
Fortunately, you can reduce the number of challenges faced in API testing by implementing the following best practices:
Allow Time for Familiarity With APIs
Challenge: While most QA testers are familiar with challenges in manual testing, they may not be as well-versed in an API testing approach. To your surprise, many peers on your QA team may not be familiar with an API framework or comfortable running API test cases. A solid API testing strategy cannot thrive when your team doesn’t consistently have the skillset for testing APIs.
Solution: Provide comprehensive training that fully explains your APIs as well as the business logic layer of your product. Regularly review with your team the rules and guidelines dictating the usage of your APIs, from copyright policies and rate limits to storage policies and display policies. When possible, hire QA engineers to your team with extensive API testing knowledge and experience addressing challenges faced in API testing.
Ensure the Framework Is Suited for APIs
Challenge: Any upgrade, be it to your product or within the API, can alter how your framework supports APIs. Furthermore, validating the parameters within your API framework can be a daunting task, especially when your APIs require specific restrictions and validation criteria.
Solution: Continuous testing of APIs throughout the development cycle can also catch defects early, allowing developers to resolve the issues sooner. Regular review of your framework ensures that your framework is suited for testing APIs, especially when you ask yourself these questions during the inspection:
- Does your framework allow integrations with GUI tests?
- Will the framework support GUI tests?
- Can the framework use build management tools and API libraries?
Challenge: While API testing tools can increase your test coverage, it is simply not possible to test every scenario. Even your most skilled QA engineers cannot predict every possible interaction your users have with APIs within your application. Because your QA team must cover a variety of software tests alongside API testing within your development cycle, there likely isn’t enough time to cover every scenario.
Solution: To overcome these challenges faced in API testing, prioritization is key. The scenarios for how your users experience your application should be the scenarios that your team prioritizes within your testing process. To do this effectively, walk through how your consumers use your application and review application data to identify accurate scenarios of actual product use.
Use Correct Testing Approaches
Challenge: Your QA team may unintentionally cut corners on API testing, especially QA testers learning the ropes of testing APIs. Even skilled QA engineers can’t run API test cases correctly when the proper tools, frameworks, and libraries are not in place.
Solution: Your API testing approach should have every resource available during the QA process so that your testing cycle has the maximum impact. Make sure you have the latest version of testing tools and that your libraries are up to date. Apply techniques such as error guessing and equivalence classes when running unit tests and acceptance tests on your APIs.
Design Test Cases Properly
Challenge: API test cases are often developed by guessing what needs to be reviewed for the API, especially when running tests outside of the user interface. This means that actual scenarios that should be tested are missed, leading to the launch of unknown API issues within the product.
Solution: Design your test cases with the end-users in mind, even though tests are not performed within the UI. Prioritize test scenarios that focus on your consumer’s experience with your application. If you're unsure which tests to prioritize, start with test cases focused on the system’s functionality and the results your consumers expect from the API within the application.
Published at DZone with permission of Vakul Gotra. See the original article here.
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