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APIs, or application programming interfaces, have taken over the software industry. APIs provide critical pathways for software components to communicate, an essential service as software becomes increasingly interconnected and complex. But the reality for testers is that APIs are yet another multiplier of the time, effort, and complexity needed to maintain quality. To manage, quality engineering professionals need test automation solutions that fully integrate API testing into their overall testing strategy, not just ignore the challenge or treat it as another add-on. 

The growing API economy

The momentum for API use is driven at all levels of the enterprise, from leadership prioritizing participation in the API economy to developers utilizing more APIs as they code. New research illustrates the growing size and complexity of this ecosystem: 

  • Nearly two-thirds (61%) of developers say they relied on APIs more in 2020 than in 2019; almost three-quarters (71%) say they’ll use even more APIs in 2021. 
  • Broadly speaking, 58% of executives say they’re prioritizing API initiatives in 2021. But even that number jumps in complex, highly regulated industries like financial services (62%) and telecommunications (75%). 

Not only is API adoption growing by an order of magnitude, but so is the variety of API technologies used. The same survey found that while REST continues to lead the pack, there was strong interest in emerging technologies like serverless, FaaS, WebSockets, and gRPC. AsyncAPI tripled in production usage (from 5% in 2019 to 19% in 2020), and GraphQL doubled (from 6% in 2019 to 12% in 2020).

Where does this leave quality engineering professionals? In the hot seat: 92% of survey respondents said they plan to implement API testing in the next year, requiring quality engineering professionals to rethink their test automation strategies to incorporate API testing. 

Best practices for API testing

To meet the enormous demand for API testing, QA professionals are leading the shift to quality engineering to establish best practices backed by effective test automation solutions to ensure that everyone, from developers to testers to product managers, have the means to easily and reliably test APIs. As testing scales, quality professionals will also need systems in place to manage and track tests to ensure an effective API testing strategy.  

Establish shared terminology

Starting with a known API platform like Postman creates a level of familiarity that makes it easier for both coding software testers and developers to begin experimenting with API test automation. With mabl, you can quickly convert your Postman collections into mabl API tests as well as the reverse, making it easy to begin automating API tests on schedule and on deployment. 

As more team members begin working with API test automation, mabl’s low-code user interface makes API testing accessible to non-coding team members, such as manual testers and product managers. The specialized knowledge of testers, who have deep expertise in UI testing as well as the “weird” user paths that customers stumble across, ensures that APIs provide a seamless experience in all possible scenarios. 

Similarly, product managers have a nuanced understanding of a product’s market fit and the fundamental challenges a product needs to solve. Their contributions to API testing strategy aligns the product UI with the needs of the buyer, bringing a critical competitive advantage to the team. Low-code API test automation makes even technical aspects of API testing accessible to more team members and creates a shared understanding of the product throughout the DevOps pipeline. 

Transparency enables collaboration

Of course, more cooks in the kitchen rarely makes for an easier process, especially when the team is likely distributed and in-person communication is limited. To ensure that API test automation is managed effectively, quality engineering teams need tools that help them track and evaluate API test coverage. 

To support enhanced test automation collaboration, mabl introduced the activity feed. The activity feed functions as a hub for all testing activities, making it easy to understand who has access to test functionalities, when they created or edited tests, as well as review changes to reusable flows and JavaScript snippets. Since mabl fully integrates API testing into the new desktop app, alongside web UI testing and mobile browser testing, every aspect of your quality engineering strategy can be reviewed and managed within a single unified platform. 

Eliminate redundancies  

As APIs play a larger role in the enterprise, they’ll intersect with more aspects of testing strategy, such as mobile testing, web testing, and UI testing, creating overlaps in testing that risk wasting time, effort, and computing capacity, especially as more team members engage in test automation. To ensure maximum efficiency and impact, quality engineering managers need mechanisms to monitor and evaluate test coverage across all test types. 

Friend of mabl NCR faced this very same challenge with their API tests. Though their team recognized the value of API tests, the process was too complex and code-heavy to accomplish on a regular basis. Even when API testing was completed, the NCR quality team lacked the tools to unify API testing with browser tests, making it almost impossible to check if they were replicating other testing and making it harder to justify API testing at all. Having API testing reside in the same mabl platform as their standard UI tests helped their team cross-check API test coverage against browser testing.

With a centralized test automation platform, the NCR quality team was able to rebuild their API testing strategy and move API testing from afterthought to a central pillar of web testing. As a small team supporting a global payments platform relied on by millions of businesses, centralizing NCR’s testing strategy ensured that the quality engineering team was maximizing test automation efforts by reducing redundant tests. 

API test automation solutions that scale

Whether you’re shifting left, breaking down the silo between product and QA, or expanding your quality engineering team, collaboration, transparency, and efficient test management is critical to establishing an effective API test automation strategy. With an overwhelming majority (92%) of organizations prioritizing API testing in 2021, quality engineering teams need test automation solutions that enable scalable, integrated API testing as they plan for the months ahead. 

Is your team automating API tests? See how mabl’s intelligent test automation with integrated API testing can help you create tests 3x faster and improve overall test coverage today!