What is API Lifecycle Management?  

  March 29, 2017

Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs, have become vital tools for business growth and technological agility. APIs enable two different services to interact and complement each other, opening the doors to a host of engineering and business possibilities. Developing robust and concrete APIs to fuel the API economy is thus an important consideration for a lot of organizations. But developing an API program, by itself, is no easy task. Taking APIs from concept to deprecation encompasses the entire API lifecycle, which has become a crucial engineering concern to build concrete API solutions. In order to succeed in today’s competitive, interconnected business landscape, organizations must give their API programs a first class treatment that gives developers the flexibility to integrate with their ever evolving internal and external environments. This is a big reason why choosing the right tool for the API lifecycle management becomes important. Two major recent acquisitions in the API space Apigee’s acquisition by Google, and 3scale by Red Hat — are further evidence that the industry is converging on the need for API lifecycle management.       Taking the needs of the hyper-connected API economy into account, SwaggerHub caters to every aspect of the API lifecycle, for a centralized, yet flexible solution for your API program. Let’s understand the various stages of the lifecycle a little better, and how SwaggerHub fits in.

Understanding the API Lifecycle

The five stages of an API lifecycle are:

  1. Planning and Designing the API
  2. Developing the API
  3. Testing the API
  4. Deploying the API
  5. Retiring the API

Planning and Designing the API

API planning and design involves mapping out the various, resources and operations, along with the business case scenarios before the API is fully implemented. With many dependent digital strategies relying on APIs, implementing them requires a solid design. In a previous article, I explore the importance of good API design in greater detail. API design is thus, an important consideration, wherein frameworks like Swagger greatly help. SwaggerHub provides a robust and complete Editor experience for designing API solutions, with full Swagger support, that allows for a great and efficient design experience. This includes intelligent design auto completion, in-built mocking and real-time visual rendering of your API’s design, all of which make for a complete design experience.  

Developing the API

The development phase of an API focuses on implementing the API based on the plan and design. Implementing and building the API as soon as possible is a key go-to-market strategy that concerns a lot of organizations. The ease and speed with which the desired API is implemented in tandem with the API design, is crucial for a good market strategy for a company’s API. This was the driving force behind the development of the open source Swagger Codegen, which helps simplify your build process by generating server stubs and client SDKs from your API’s contract, so your team can focus better on your API’s implementation and adoption. A platform like SwaggerHub can take that a step further, with the ability to push generate the API’s design and code to an organization’s internal, source control environments like GitHub, Bitbucket and GitLab.  

Testing the API

APIs deserve the same first-class treatment that you would give to any application. This means that APIs should be thoroughly tested and monitored for performance issues. Once you’ve made your API available to other developers, you take on a responsibility to ensure that nothing affects the API’s quality and performance. API functional testing tools like SoapUI and load testing tools like LoadUI are essential for testing API functionality and performance in pre-production environments.

Deploying the API

APIs, at the end of the day, must satisfy a use case for an end consumer, be it your own internal developer team, a partner company, or the general public. Deploying the API to a secure environment for facilitating easy discovery and consumption is essential for the success of your API strategy. Finished APIs can be pushed to the SwaggerHub registry to allow users to quickly discover the API’s documentation and integrate with them. It’s important to remember that to deliver guaranteed and high-quality API performance, it is also essential to monitor the APIs in production. SwaggerHub also lets organizations and teams securely deploy their APIs to API Management platforms like AWS API Gateway, IBM API Connect, or Microsoft Azure, reaffirming the principle of allowing organizations to tie their existing toolsets and environments into their API workflow.

Retiring the API

Deprecation is a natural part of the API lifecycle. It is the phase where support for an API’s version, or in many cases, an entire API itself, is discontinued. Examples like the famous deprecation of the Netflix API, the ESPN API, or more recently, the Google Hangouts API, are important reasons why API deprecation needs to be handled with care. You can see some good recommendations on handling API deprecation here. SwaggerHub’s internal publishing mechanism allows organizations to indicate a deprecated API that’s not for consumption, so end consumers can know exactly which API is stable, and which isn’t. The ability to add webhooks for various events within SwaggerHub means your organizations can always trigger external services to notify end consumers of a deprecated API. Whatever your approach to building APIs, we recommend having a trusted and consumer friendly tool to orchestrate your API lifecycle, which can be a crucial game changer in the digital economy. Find out how you can centralize your API lifecycle management workflow with SwaggerHub.