APIs help power our world. With almost every company adopting an API strategy, its essential to understand the fundamentals of APIs and how to monitor them so you can deliver an incredible user experience. 

APIs in a Few Words

An Application Programming Interface (API) allows two systems to communicate with one another. An API essentially provides the language and contract for how two systems interact. Each API has documentation and specifications which determine how information can be transferred.

Just like a webpage is rendered, APIs can use HTTP requests to get information from a web application or web server.  

APIs are typically categorized as either SOAP or REST and both are used to access web services. SOAP relies solely on XML to provide messaging services, while REST offers a more lightweight method, using URLs in most cases to receive or send information. REST uses four different HTTP 1.1 verbs (GET, POST, PUT, and DELETE) to perform tasks.

Unlike SOAP, REST doesn’t have to use XML to provide the response. You can find REST-based Web services that output the data in Command Separated Value (CSV), JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) and Really Simple Syndication (RSS). The point is that you can obtain the output you need in a form that’s easy to parse within the language you need for your application.

 

Business Case for APIs

APIs expand the capabilities and functionalities you can offer, without putting a ton of resources behind integrations. To get the most out of APIs, businesses use APIs in the following ways:

  • Integrate with third party APIs
  • Build APIs for internal use
  • Build APIs and expose APIs for external use

APIs have potential to add value to your business for customers and employees alike. Understanding what an API endpoint is and how to measure performance is key in capturing the potential value APIs offer.

 

What is an API Endpoint?

Simply put, an endpoint is one end of a communication channel. When an API interacts with another system, the touchpoints of this communication are considered endpoints. For APIs, an endpoint can include a URL of a server or service. Each endpoint is the location from which APIs can access the resources they need to carry out their function.

 

APIs work using ‘requests’ and ‘responses.’ When an API requests information from a web application or web server, it will receive a response. The place that APIs send requests and where the resource lives, is called an endpoint.

 

Why Are API Endpoints Important?

All over the world, companies leverage APIs to transfer vital information, processes, transactions, and more. API usage will only increase as time goes on, and making sure that each touchpoint in API communication is intact is vital to the success of each API. Endpoints specify where resources can be accessed by APIs and play a key role in guaranteeing the correct functioning of the software that interacts with it.  In short, API performance relies on its ability to communicate effectively with API Endpoints.

 

Do I Need to Monitor API Endpoints?

YES. Understanding how each API is performing can drastically change the way you’re able to capture the value APIs add to your business. Proactively Monitoring APIs can ensure that you’re able to find issues before real users experience them.

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Choosing an API Monitoring Tool

Similar to web monitoring, API monitoring provides crucial performance data from which developers and operations teams alike can use to improve user experience. There are a variety of tools available, but selecting an API Monitoring solution that can provide actionable data is essential, not only to increase your ROI, but to get genuinely useful performance data. When choosing a solution, it’s good to keep these functionalities in mind:

 

  1. Intuitive – You won’t use a tool you don’t understand. You especially won’t be able to take full advantage of the functionalities if you don’t like the tool. Finding an API monitoring tool that is easy to use and instinctual will reduce your ramp up time as well as increase the probability of your reliance on this tool.  
  2. Reuse – Find a tool that lets you use what you’ve got. Reuse scripts from the tools your API developers and testers use to avoid doing the same tasks twice.
  3. Run Options – Keeping your API monitors on a schedule that fits your needs is essential. Making sure you can run monitors in intervals of your preference or set blackout periods can be especially helpful when trying to gage performance over time. Almost just as important is the ability to run a monitor on demand – as either a test or a real run.
  4. Sequencing and Assertions – Accuracy is key. APIs transactions that require sequential functionalities should be able to be monitored, so you receive monitoring data that takes into account the big picture functionalities with the detailed step validations. While it’s imperative to understand the speed and availability of your API, functional correctness is even more important. If your API is returning the wrong data, you’ve fallen into the trap of the illusion of availability, where your customers encounter a broken system and you’re blissfully unaware. Making sure you can add assertions and validate the data the API returns is an essential functionality for an API monitoring tool.  
  5. Consumable and Shareable – A tool that can communicate data easily, swiftly, and clearly is vital to any operation. API performance is no exception. Selecting a tool that aggregates data and visualizes the data properly can help provide instant actionable insights for you to share with your teams to reduce your MTTR (mean-time-to-resolution).
  6. Adaptable – Tool stacks can include all sorts of software. Make sure you have a tool that is adaptable and flexible, so it can fit into your stack, whatever your preferences may be.
  7. Alerts – You have to actually know when something is wrong in order to fix it. Find a tool that prioritizes this, and you will be good to go!

 

How AlertSite Can Help

Getting API monitors up and running in AlertSite is easy. We’ve designed it to be the easiest, comprehensive API Monitoring platform in the market, and with API design and API testing tools in our belt, we’ve got you covered for all things API. AlertSite prioritizes the following aspects in its design:

  1. Intuitive – AlertSite is designed for pros and novices alike. Our user interface is intuitive and reactive, empowering anyone to create API monitors swiftly and painlessly. Our native API monitor creator gets you up and running in minutes.
  2. Reuse – Take the scripts your teams have already created to make an API monitor in AlertSite. Reuse SoapUI scripts, Swagger definitions and more.
  3. Run Options – With test on demand, run on demand, and blackout options, AlertSite offers customization where it matters most.
  4. Sequencing and Assertions – To cover the full functionality of your APIs, AlertSite monitors full API transactions, including those that need to be invoked in sequence. Assertions and Validations are essential and are part of the monitor creation process. Simply add in an assertion and we’ll validate the return data to make sure your APIs are functioning as intended.
  5. Consumable and Shareable – Data is great. We know that. We also know that being able to digest and act on the data is what makes a difference. Data in AlertSite is conveyed in powerful graphics with a sleek design that doesn’t skimp on details. With shareable monitor tiles, you can make sure your team is in the loop and ready to fix any issues that may arise.
  6. Adaptable – AlertSite integrates with the best of breed tools so we can fit seamlessly into your processes.
  7. Alerts – Last, but certainly not least, AlertSite has and always will prioritize optimizing our alerting capabilities. Accurately named, AlertSite has the fastest and most intelligent alerting capabilities in the market. Configurable and contextual, our alerts ensure you’re notified and informed when issues occur, and with object level detail, our error messages make it easy to spring into action.

 

To learn more about API Monitoring checkout AlertSite here.

 

 

 

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