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Hemanth Yamjala
Hemanth Yamjala 16 October 2018
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API Testing in a DevOps mode. What is your strategy?

The successful run of API testing in a DevOps environment is essential to establish a seamless communication between applications and systems. This eliminates errors and leads to the building of robust and functional applications.

The Application Programming Interface or API is an important set of tools, protocols or programs that connects applications and servers and helps them communicate with each other without any human intervention. It enables the internet to remain a vast reservoir of interconnected applications that provides various types of services to the users. For example, if one is able to log into popular sites like Quora by using Facebook or Google, then it is validated by APIs that work behind the scenes. Another example is the rating of websites (policy bazaar.com etc) that garner information from relevant websites and provide them on a single platform. Similarly, APIs help mobile applications to interact with multiple elements and environments such as devices, operating systems, memory, processors, and networks. In the absence of APIs, the application running on your mobile will come to nought. 

Since APIs play such a crucial role in the functioning of an application, they need to be tested to identify the hidden glitches that can render an application dysfunctional or face latency. In both cases, the application will not offer the desired result and lead to customer dissatisfaction. And if not dealt with appropriately, the dissatisfaction, in due course, shall get reflected in the balance sheet of the organization. Since glitches in the APIs can impact the customer experience, API testing should involve the checking of endpoints by following DevOps methodology. The methodology includes Continuous Integration (CI), Continuous Testing (CT), and Continuous Delivery (CD).

Factors fuelling API test automation

Internet of Things (IoT): IoT involves increased and glitch free communication between devices such as sensors, actuators etc. In practice, this entails a robust communication between applications that are embedded within such devices.

Cloud computing: Devices connected to cloud based servers need to communicate by using APIs. Thus, if the APIs are not tested for their functionality, load carrying capacity, integration, reliability, security and usability among others, the devices would not meet the desired outcomes.

Continuous integration as in DevOps  quality assurance

To test each and every feature of an application, the DevOps team should run builds to identify glitches early in the development process. This helps the team to gain a greater insight into the APIs and identify the areas to conduct regression testing. In the ultimate analysis, while developing an application, the DevOps QA team should focus on testing the APIs so that each feature of the application is able to communicate seamlessly with other applications or systems.

As API test automation fits well into the continuous testing rigmarole of DevOps testing, it is better placed than GUI testing. Following are the reasons why testing the APIs is convenient in the DevOps model compared to GUI testing.

  • When it comes to multiple architectures, GUI tests often fall short in testing the functional paths or APIs. However, testing APIs is much more stable.
  • In the quick test sprints of DevOps testing involving faster feedbacks, the GUI based tests are time consuming and need a considerable rework. However, testing APIs is easier, quicker, and more stable.

Strategy to test APIs in a DevOps model

Initial setup: The testing setup should begin in the design phase of an application and should involve test automation to gauge how the APIs perform under stress conditions.

Schema updation: The best way to avoid API changes and the resultant downtime is by testing them in beta and alpha driven environment. This way, the number of glitches shall reduce substantially when tested in accordance with the schema.

Parameter combination: APIs carry out communication between applications or systems through data requests wherein parameters are assigned specific data values. To pre-empt the presence of glitches in specific configurations, a comprehensive testing of all parameter combinations should be conducted. The types of glitches in such testing can include assigning two data values to a single parameter or text values appearing in place of numerical values.

API call sequencing: The testing team can face sequencing issues when API calls need to appear in a certain order. To get over this scenario, the testing team should visualize the API calls by making a flowchart. By doing this, the developer team can quickly build and integrate the API calls without creating glitches.

Conclusion

The process of digital transformation can come unstuck if proper testing of the APIs is not conducted. It is needed to identify and eliminate glitches that may hinder any communication between applications and systems.

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