API U Series

Why and How to Test and Monitor Your APIs (and the Tools to Use)

Whether you’re a provider of APIs, a consumer of APIs (for example, a developer of Web or mobile apps). or both, the importance of testing and monitoring APIs is not to be overlooked. The API economy has spawned several cottage industries over the last decade and one of them is a collection of solution providers that have made API testing and/or monitoring (yes, there’s a difference) one of the priorities within the portfolio of the solutions they offer.

When we first embarked on the development of this special ProgrammableWeb series on API testing and monitoring, we found 14 separate solutions on the market and we’re pretty sure there are others hiding out there that haven’t come to our attention. Like all of our series, we consider this series to be “living editorial” which means we will update it as new information — for example, previously undiscovered API testing and monitoring solutions — comes to light.

The intent of this series is first to educate you on the nuances of API testing and monitoring. For example, why are they important to the lifecycles of your APIs and your applications? What does it mean to test versus monitor APIs? Is it possible to roll your own solutions instead of buying or subscribing to commercial offerings? What’s the role of API description specifications like OpenAPI and RAML in configuring your diagnostics?

Secondly, it’s our goal to bring you a small taste of the solutions on the market as a source of information for those of you who not only want to know what your options are, but how they compare to each other. Some of the 14 solutions we’ve encountered were discovered so recently that our reviews of them are not even ready yet. But we’ll update this series as soon as they are.

One thing to note: the reason that this cottage industry exists is primarily because the various API management system providers were focused on other priorities as their solutions evolved; features and functions that were core to managing and providing APIs like security, identity management, API design, and documentation. As a result, there are a variety of solution providers in the space. Whereas some like API Science are dedicated solely to the art of API testing and/or monitoring, others like SmartBear have added the capability to a portfolio of other API-related offerings.

But that cottage industry is beginning to change as the heavy hitters in the API management space look to either acquire the smaller players or to develop the capability on their own. This is good news for some API testing/monitoring vendors as they may become acquisition targets as the industry starts to consolidate. For example, earlier this year, CA acquired Runscope. CA originally entered the API management space when it acquired Layer 7 about five years ago. Then, Talend, a company that specializes is enterprise integration (something that doesn’t happen in this day and age without APIs) acquired Restlet.

But, like the game of musical chairs, this trend may also be bad news once any remaining stand-alone providers must convince existing users of API management solutions that they need la carte testing capabilities in addition to the ones that are already built into their API management platforms.

One thing is for sure; as these movers and shakers move and shake, ProgrammableWeb will report on the news so you can stay abreast of such consolidation trends. Meanwhile, enjoy the series and don’t be shy with your feedback. Send it to editor@programmableweb.com.

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