Whether you are using an internal, external, or third-party Application Programming Interface, it is essential you monitor the API. Monitoring involves observing the functionality, availability, and performance of an API. By monitoring, you can know if there is a problem, identify the problem easily, and take the appropriate steps to fix the issue quickly. Here are five excellent tips to help you monitor APIs.
1. Choose the Right API Monitoring Tool
There are various ways in which you can monitor an API, but the simplest and easiest way is to use an API tool that collects and analyzes metrics. You can choose from a broad range of API monitoring tools, so make sure you compare different ones to find the right one for your needs. Some of the best on the market are:
- RapidAPI, which can be used to monitor, test, and administer internal APIs and manage access and usage within a team using selected external APIs.
- SmartBear’s ReadyAPI, which offers API testing, performance, and virtualization.
- Postman Monitoring, which is a fantastic service for monitoring the health of APIs.
2. Monitor Multiple Endpoints
When an API experiences problems, it could be due to specific endpoints or API transaction bugs. The first thing you should do to prevent such errors is to monitor multiple crucial endpoints. Begin with one endpoint and then expand your monitoring to multiple endpoints. You can also use an error reporting service from within your application to detect errors that you are unaware of.
3. Perform Functional Checks
Monitoring multiple endpoints is a good start, but as APIs are continually used and newer versions are deployed, there are various scenarios where endpoint checking is insufficient. So, the next step is to perform functional API checks. These enable you to model a real-world user scenario and ensure specific endpoint transactions are available. Functional checks can include:
- Monitoring CRUD operations such as “POST/PUT/DELETE.”
- Validating payloads by using JSON Schema validation.
- Checking payload data by using XPath or JSON.
- Identifying latency by checking the response times of the API.
- Checking status codes that are not “HTTP 200 OK” to identify transactions that fail.
4. Watch Out for Flaky Checks
A flaky check refers to getting an alert or downtime notification for the API and finding nothing is wrong with it. This can happen due to non-deterministic and unexpected behavior, such as when API monitoring has too many steps or is too complex. If you monitor and test an API with unreliable tools, you can receive false-positive results. If you get a flaky check, do not allow it to stay in your system. Either refactor it immediately or delete it entirely.
5. Ensure API Downtime Alerts Are Actionable
Suppose you receive a notification telling you the API is down. In that case, it is crucial the notification informs you of the most relevant and vital information immediately so that you can take action straight away. Avoid using API downtime alerts that require you to open a link to view the parts that have failed. Notifications should be instantly actionable; otherwise, you will waste valuable time. So, ensure downtime alerts give you at least basic information such as the HTTP status code and the reasons for why the API failed.