I’ve been with SmartBear for almost 4 years and we’ve never had an external API that could be used by our customers and partners to integrate with 3rd party tools. If people wanted to integrate with Collaborator, they had to do so via our command line interface (CLI). The problem with the CLI is that it doesn’t provide access to all of the great capabilities within Collaborator. It is really just a way for users to create reviews and in some cases extract additional information from the tool. Though this has served us well over the years, it didn’t provide us a long term scalable solution that would allow for integrations.
The beauty of the new JSON API is that it is easily consumable. As an example, we had an internal conversation about adding an MS Office add-in to Word that would allow a user to click a button to attach a document to a review. Within a few hours one of our developers, who hadn’t done any work on the API, was able to build the add-in. Without the API, this type of integration would have required us to call the Collaborator Client CLI which would have added complexity and a lot of time to the project. We haven’t released the MS Word add-in it yet, but it does show the power of the API.
The API has also provided the Collaborator team an opportunity to play with another great SmartBear tool, Ready! API. Ready! API allows us the ability to functionally test our API by adding assertions and transferring properties from one test step to another with just a few clicks. A screenshot of some testing can be seen below.
One final thought about the API is that it has improved performance. We’ve seen significant gains in file upload speeds when Authors are creating reviews. In fact, we’ve seen as much as 1000% improvement to upload speeds in our testing. The reason for such gains is that the JSON API is far less ‘chatty’ than our old XML-RPC API. Checkout the below graph to see how things have improved.