Why You Should Be Monitoring Your APIs

  February 13, 2018

We know that designing the perfect API is no easy feat. Each API is crafted with intent, weaved with measures to ensure quality and functionality. API definition formats such as OpenAPI (formerly known as Swagger) provide standardization for this process- a contract for development teams to describe and determine how each API is supposed to behave. However, ensuring API quality does not end after designing the API.

The quality of your API should transcend departmental barriers, so you know that your API is continuously delivering the value it was designed for. By monitoring the APIs you design, whether it’s monitoring an API in pre-production environments or in production, you gain full visibility into the performance and behavior of that API.

What Can You Gain By Monitoring Your APIs?

Monitoring tools provide insight into how your APIs are behaving. Understanding how your designs are brought to life, functioning, and performing over time will help with:

  • Issue identification
  • Issue remediation
  • Functionality analysis
  • Iterations for new releases

Ultimately, monitoring your APIs helps you improve. By catching issues before end users, receiving feedback and actionable data regarding the performance, availability, and correctness of your APIs, you can continuously innovate and drive a higher adoption rate.

So, What Exactly is a Synthetic Monitoring Tool?

Synthetic monitoring is a proactive approach to monitoring your digital assets. Synthetic monitoring tools emulate real users by carrying out key actions or transactions that your applications or APIs would execute. Rather than monitoring real user interactions, synthetic monitoring offers organizations a way to monitor what a user would encounter, so that any issues or performance deviations can be caught and fixed before a real user experiences the problem.

API monitoring is typically bucketed into two types – API endpoint monitoring and API transactional monitoring. API Endpoint monitoring ensures that each endpoint is behaving properly, while API transactional monitoring supports multi-step monitoring, capturing data from each step in the sequence.

What Does This Mean For API Development Teams?

Increasingly, companies are recognizing the value of design as an imperative part of the software development lifecycle. However, very few companies are able to successfully leverage these designs in other elements of their business structure.

As a developer, making sure that the artifacts you create, such as OpenAPI Specification files, are used properly in your company is vital. Understanding the next steps in the API lifecycle can help better your design processes as well as the processes that follow. To achieve a true DevOps culture, collaboration and interoperability are essential, and development teams are a key element in supporting DevOps initiatives.

Reuse OpenAPI Specification Files to Monitor Your APIs

When you set up an API monitor, depending on which tool you use, you have to specify what endpoint or transaction you want to check, and sometimes this can require additional resources to craft elaborate scripts to essentially retest the API. We understand that this is simply not an option for teams supporting CICD initiatives and agile processes.

That's why we’re excited to announce that our friends at AlertSite (SmartBear’s synthetic monitoring tool), have introduced support for reusing OpenAPI Specification files to create new API monitors. This makes it to monitor the performance, availability, and functional correctness of the APIs you design with Swagger ToolsAlertSite, helps get you up and running in mere minutes, without additional coding requirements.

With this new integration, your development team can simply hand off any existing OAS definitions (currently supporting OAS (or Swagger) 2.0) to the operations team to auto-generate monitors to ensure that the API is functioning as expected. Or better yet, development teams can leverage the OAS definitions to create new monitors in pre-production environments.

Why Does This Matter?

When organizations working in a DevOps environment can reuse existing assets, it can reduce friction and eliminate unnecessary roadblocks in the deployment process. Following a “design first” approach to OAS requires detailed planning of expectations and requirements for each API’s functionality, so to be able to carry that through in a manner that reduces time to deployment as well as mean time to resolution is vital for agile teams.

Another major benefit is the cross functional collaboration and alignment that stems from leveraging the API definitions to create new monitors. As an API evolves and new versions are released, development and operations teams can continue to reuse the OAS definition to update monitors, ensuring that the API continues to perform as expected.

Adding to its API monitoring arsenal, AlertSite’s OpenAPI Specification support makes it easy for developers and operations teams alike to determine the status and behavior of the APIs they rely on. AlertSite empowers DevOps teams to monitor continuously for anomalies and sends targeted alerts with actionable, contextual data so any issues can be resolved rapidly, ensuring that your APIs are not only available, but also delivering the experience envisioned in their design. This enhancement of AlertSite API Monitoring capabilities is the first of many, with exciting new integrations and functionalities planned for the 2018.

Thanks for reading! Looking for more API resources? Subscribe to the Swagger newsletter. Receive a monthly email with our best API articles, trainings, tutorials, and more. Subscribe