API Exploration for Testers

  August 01, 2023

In our previous blogs, we discussed the role API designers and developers play and how API exploration can speed up the development process. But we can’t forget about Testers. Stay tuned as we uncover the role exploration can play for testers in the software development lifecycle.  

API testers contribute significantly to the SDLC by identifying defects, ensuring compatibility and integration, assessing performance and security, supporting maintenance and regression testing, and enhancing the overall user experience. Their expertise and testing efforts help deliver high-quality, reliable, and efficient APIs that are critical for the success of software applications and services.  

API Tester Challenges

API testers are faced with the challenge of delivery software that is poor quality. Our 2023 State of API revealed that both developers & testers see performance as the biggest measure of success. Some challenges that may hinder their ability to deliver quality software are:  

  • Limited documentation: APIs may lack comprehensive documentation, making it a challenge for testers to understand the intended functionality, expected inputs/outputs, and error handing mechanisms. Incomplete or outdated documentation can hinder test planning and lead to ambiguity in test case creation.
  • Versioning and backward compatibility: APIs evolve over time, with new versions being released to introduce enhancements or fix bugs. Testers need to manage different API versions, ensure backward compatibility with existing consumers, and test the impact of version upgrades on integrations and functionality.

As the practice of “shift-left” continues to be implemented in the SDLC, testers are becoming involved in the development process from the beginning.  As a result, many testing teams collaborate closely with developers and business analysts to understand the requirements, design specification, and intended usage of the APIs. By doing so, they can identify potential defects, inconsistencies, or ambiguities in the early stages, reducing the likelihood of issues surfacing later in the development cycle.

This is where API exploration comes in.

What is API Exploration?

API exploration is a form of API testing gaining traction in the API community. It involves understanding the features, capabilities, and functionalities an API provides by interacting within and exploring its endpoints, methods, parameters, and responses. API exploration occurs during the early stages of API integration or with developers when teams explore an API to figure out how it works. With exploration, teams gain insights into an API’s behavior, data structures, authentication mechanisms, error handling, and other relevant aspects.

Use API Exploration to Solve Tester Challenges

API exploration is a quick and easy way to validate APIs without any baggage. Testers can use API exploration to:

  • Understand API behavior: API exploration allows testers to interact with the API directly, sending requests and examining responses in real-time. It helps testers gain a deeper understanding of the API’s behavior, available endpoints, supported operations, data formats, and error codes. By exploring the API, testers can fill in gaps in documentation and uncover any inconsistencies or ambiguities.
  • Test scenario discovery: API exploration facilitates the discovery of potential test scenarios and edge cases. Testers can experiment with different inputs, query parameters, headers, and payloads to understand how the API handles various situations. They can identify unexpected behaviors, validate data validation rules, and explore error handling mechanisms. This hands-on approach aids in creating comprehensive test cases and improving test coverage.
  • Rapid Feedback and Collaboration: API exploration promotes rapid feedback and collaboration among testers, developers, and other stakeholders. Testers can quickly validate API behavior and provide early feedback to developers during the development process. This close collaboration helps identify issues early, resolve them promptly, and align the understanding of API requirements and expectations across the team.
  • Continuous Learning and Adaptation: API exploration encourages testers to continuously learn and adapt their testing approaches. As APIs evolve, testers can explore new features, changes, or version upgrades. By staying updated with the latest API capabilities, testers can adapt their testing strategies, update test cases, and ensure compatibility and backward compatibility across API versions.

Get Exploring with SwaggerHub Explore

Earlier this year, the API experts at SmartBear launched a new tool that allows for worry free API exploration. SwaggerHub Explore is an API exploration tool that instantly surfaces data received from an API response allowing you to evaluate the value provided by various API protocols in one single place.

If you’ve made it to the end of this blog, chances are you can’t wait to begin API exploration for yourself! Get exploring today, for free.