In a growing data driven world the seamless functioning of software applications is not just important but critical as well. The successful functioning of a software program(s) can help an enterprise in many ways. These can be related to brand building, achieving customer satisfaction, drawing potential customers, and improving the ROI. And yes, not to forget, ensuring the compatibility of the application across devices, browsers, operating systems, platforms and networks.
Today, a software program or application can have security ramifications as well given the growing threat of cybercrime. So, if an application gets compromised, it can lead the business to fall foul of regulatory authorities, lose customer trust and competitive edge, and the failure to meet ROI. To prevent these, a rigorous Agile testing of software should be implemented. In this type of testing, Agile testers check for glitches in the application and send the code(s) back to the development team for rewriting.
Even though implementing Agile is arguably the best way to ensure the robustness and seamless functioning of an application across platforms, devices, and networks, it does not always include testing the API. This is due to the fact that an API automation testing can be a daunting exercise given the complexity involved. The complexity lies in understanding the connections and interactions between applications, systems, databases, devices, frameworks, and networks.
What is an API?
The Application Program Interface is a set of tools, processes and protocols that communicate across programs, systems, databases and networks. Also, an API helps to integrate different parts of an application to facilitate the latter’s smooth functioning and performance in accordance with the stated business objectives. An API is akin to a user interface that facilitates communication between a human and a computer. In the absence of an API, various strands of an application(s) will not be able to optimally function let alone meet the desired objectives.
The bottom line is that an API is the glue that holds a software application(s) together. It helps the application to interact with the systems, devices, databases, and networks to produce the desired outcome. The role of APIs has become even more important today thanks to the proliferation of innovative and result oriented software incorporating cutting edge technologies.
How critical is API testing?
As mentioned above, the growing complexity of software applications in meeting the challenges of a competitive business environment means they should be tested preferably with Agile test automation. Since APIs are the critical components of software applications, API testing has become important. Their seamless functioning helps software applications to interact with each other and perform to their optimum. This invariably leads to a superior customer experience and realization of ROI. Testing of the APIs validates the integration of various software components and dependencies to effectively meet the performance metrics and security parameters.
Steps to effectively implement Agile for testing the APIs
Test automation: The use of automation in an Agile testing strategy is critical as the level of interaction between developers and testers in a sprint is high. Manual testing will not be able to cope with the challenges of shorter development cycles, which involve repetitive testing of a large number of variables. The variables need to be tested for outcomes across frameworks, operating systems, browsers, IDEs and networks. By using API test automation tools like Soap UI, API Fortress etc., and calls can be sent to an API to check and log the system’s response.
Documentation: The API test requirements such as the purpose, functions and features, integrations supported, and workflow should be documented. This helps in better planning and implementation of the test.
Define the test output parameters: The test outcomes can range from checking the pass/fail status to calling another API(s) or validating a data. In fact, there can be times when there is no discernible output as well.
Focus on smaller API functions: Instead of creating bigger test cases given their complexity and uncertainty, it is better to focus on the smaller ones. This is due to the fact that it is easier to write smaller API test codes and check for their outcomes. These small API test cases can be later clubbed together to save time.
Security Testing: The Agile application testing should include API security testing as well given its dire ramifications. The test should be able to validate the authenticity of a user by checking his or her credentials from the database with an API function.