Thanks to automated API testing, or the creation of automated test suites that can run on their own with minimal human intervention, API designers seem to have their work cut out for them. The automation technologies that are so heavily relied on in manufacturing have also helped API designers in the testing phase; thanks to the mock tests, end-to-end tests, integration tests, and other automated test types that they have at their disposal, designers can streamline massive workloads and increase their own efficiency with code.
Automating seems to make perfect sense from a business perspective as well as a technical one. Once automation closes the gaps in readying the API for full integration, the product will be quicker to see the light of day and be adopted by developers. It’s a definite argument for integrating a comprehensive API testing tool into the API’s development process, just like the one offered by API specialist Stoplight.
However, automation shouldn’t be seen as the “be all, end all” of API testing. As this feature will prove, there are both advantages and disadvantages to automating your API testing processes. You will need the full picture before investing your time and resources into brand-new automated testing technologies.
The Pros: Fast, Efficient, and Collaborative API Testing Work through Automation
The first pro that will likely come to mind is how quickly these automated checks yield feedback. There will be a faster turnaround time between you diagnosing errors in your API’s build structure and you moving in to fix them. An automated test will make it easier to track your API’s behavior after introducing a change—you’ll know where to take a step back and do the problem solving.
This added speed to checking the API’s functionality may also make the development team more productive. You and your fellow designers can prioritize working on exploratory features of the API, rather than getting stuck on its regressions.
Lastly, the code generated by an automated mechanism may also be easier to read, and to comprehend, than manually generated code. Once everyone in the development team has access to such standardized info, it won’t be hard for them to get on the same level with the API’s status, and it will help everyone collaborate more closely.
The Cons: Facing the Limits and Maintenance Work Involved in API Testing Automation
But this doesn’t mean that automated API testing is the perfect approach every single time. Like any other technology, it has its own constraints—and these are things that API designers need to keep in mind when deciding to automate.
For one, any automated test is only programmed to fulfill a specific function. If the API team forgets that a test has those limits, just because it is doing that one function very efficiently, then there’s the threat of having a false sense of security about the API’s readiness. Just remember: the automated tests are meant to filter out errors of a certain kind, and won’t ensure that there are no errors to be had in your API’s design at all.
There’s a lot of maintenance involved in these technologies, too. The testing packs must be kept up to date, or else the info gathered from the automated checks may not be accurate anymore—which defeats the whole purpose of automating at all. Therefore, API designers will need to work around this need for extra maintenance on the technology, plus subscribe to an API design platform that’s known to be consistent.
Lastly, it may also be more difficult to introduce new logic to the API’s structure after the test. There’s a chance that designers will be overly dependent on the tests, thus hampering the creativity needed to write new API code.
Conclusion: Achieving the Best of Both Worlds
In the end, it’s important to remember that automated API testing is just one aspect of the testing itself; completing the automated checks doesn’t mean you’ll be done with API testing forever.
To fully unlock the potential of these automated checks, you will want to do things: (1) choose your testing scenarios carefully before you even automate, and (2) pair automation with human intelligence via manual API testing. When you maximize the precision of the former with the one-of-a-kind creativity of the latter, you’ll be doing justice to your API.