Importance of Automated API Testing for Product and Service Companies
Automated testing is a somewhat complex subject in the world of software development, and its importance is often quite underestimated. However, its true value quickly becomes apparent when it comes to testing massive products with a large number of integrations and/or frequent releases. The exact point of time when QA automation becomes a necessity rather than something that is nice to have on a project is actually calculable. As soon as the combined amount of effort required for manually re-testing a product after a release outweighs the amount of effort that would’ve been invested in QA Automation to date, you are dealing with a project where a QA will be saving some serious money going forward. And you don’t need to be halfway into the project to realize that – a good QA team will make fairly accurate projections based on the backlog at hand and the general information about the project and its architecture.
One of the areas where QA automation seems to be the most natural choice is API testing. Let’s take a look why.
What’s so special about API’s?
Application Programming Interfaces, or API’s, are sets of commands that enable two or more software systems to communicate and exchange data. The emergence of API’s, as well as communication protocols like SOAP and REST, made it possible to easily integrate completely different products and even create entirely new application models like SOA.
All of this lead to the creation of systems comprised of multiple subcomponents that are fetching, processing and pushing data around according to pre-defined business logic. This gave developers a great deal of flexibility in terms of reusing same services, ensuring service continuity and such, but also created a major dependency that is in the API’s itself. If there is an error in calls being made to an API or the API itself has changed, the entire system can become useless until the issue is resolved. And this is where automated testing truly shines.
In terms of QA, testing API’s is different than testing other parts of a software product, since they operate on the business layer rather than the presentation layer and don’t interact with users. No users translates into less variance in input and output, since we are only interested in calling a particular function/method and ensuring that it returns a correct response (if at all) in an appropriate format. Therefore, the ultimate goal of any QA team is to reach 100% API coverage and be able to test all integrations with a single mouse click in the test suite at any moment (after each build and, of course, after major releases).
Types of automated API testing
API test automation is not limited to functional testing only. Having written your own test automation framework and test scripts, you can conduct other types of tests, the most typical of which are:
- Load testing: to find out how well the remote service handles a large number of concurrent requests and whether it is capable or sending responses back to your application in a timely manner.
- Security testing: to check the API for security vulnerabilities by sending special requests aimed at compromising its operation or securing access to confidential data or unauthorized areas (penetration testing). Security testing also covers areas like user authentication, data encryption and user access control.
Advantages of using automated API testing
API test automation offers quite a few very distinct benefits to a team of developers. First and foremost, it dramatically simplifies integration and regression testing in an Agile environment, allowing API calls and integrations with third-party systems to be checked every time a significant change is made to the product. In case of complex solutions, manual validation would require an unreasonably large amount of time, whereas with automation, it becomes a much easier matter to deal with.
Faster and more thorough software testing means shorter time to market, shorter release cycles, faster feedback and better adaptation to users’ needs, all of which directly influence the success of your product.
API test automation helps reveal integration issues across the entire chain of services or systems, not an isolated element only, thus saving tons of troubleshooting time and efforts. You get the whole picture right away and can take immediate actions to apply fixes.
Product companies are among the top beneficiaries of automated API tests, especially if their products rely on external services in obtaining or storing data. Regular API tests help ensure that even if an external service has slightly modified the format of responses or names of the functions you used, this change is likely to be detected even before the first complains start coming in from customers.
Automated API testing is a must-have kind of expertise for any mature software development company. An immensely efficient and valuable asset for functional, load, regression and integration testing, it allows QA engineers to work on the message and business logic level to test the functionality of the system being developed separately from its UI. As the result, the stability of the system is regularly verified to ensure its stable operation during production and long afterwards.
About the Author:
Eugene Rudenko is a senior online marketing manager for Oxagile, a custom software development company, with offices in New York and London. Oxagile offers web and mobile development services and manual and testing services to provide full-cycle development process. LinkedIN Twitter