It’s an old adage but it’s true; if you want your API to succeed, you have to treat it like a product. And one of the most important steps in any product’s lifecycle is when it gets released. But is your API ready to be released just yet? James Higginbotham wrote a post offering a 10-point checklist to help make sure that your API release runs as smoothly as possible.
The first item is to verify that stakeholders’ needs were met. The suggestion is to use an API-first design process. Such an approach allows you to collaboratively design an API with the various stakeholders and make sure that the right problems are being solved. The next item is to review if any updates to your API will result in breaking changes. Such changes will break your consumers’ end applications and should be avoided whenever possible. Again, an API-first approach can help you identify breaking changes early.
The third item on the list is to do a thorough security review of every new or updated endpoint. API security is one of the most critical issues in the space and the importance of integrating security reviews into your API release process cannot be overstated. Step four states that after checking updates for breaking changes and doing a security review, you then need to make sure that your documentation is up to date. This is the time to make sure you documentation is clear, complete and answers the questions that your users will have. You can also review your documentation style to see if it is helping customers on their API journey. Along with up to date docs, step five recommends that this is the time to make sure that new or updated capabilities are captured in a published changelog.
Number six on the checklist is to make sure that you have updated your API management layer configuration. If you have new or updated endpoints, they may require rate limiting or additional security so your gateway should be updated accordingly. Item number seven is to make sure that your KPIs are updated so that your API continues to meet your business goals.
Step eight suggests that you take the time to do a thorough set of API tests. There are a number of different kinds of tests such as functional, scenario-based and domain testing for your API. In addition there are numerous tools available to run the various kinds of tests. The ninth item relates to testing and suggests that you check that the API implementation matches your published design contract. Contracts can be verified during functional testing to ensure that the implementation adheres to the design. Finally, the last item on your checklist is to make sure that you have a blog post or equivalent announcement ready to go upon release. This post should include the important details of the release, explaining what the changes are and why they are important. This is also a good place to include the changelog that you created in step five.
Taken together, these 10 items can help make sure that your API release goes smoothly and that your external customers and internal developers are able to integrate the API with a few problems as possible.