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The Top 6 API Test Automation Best Practices

With the advent of new frameworks used for Quality Assurance; companies have taken a shift-left approach to software testing. Due to the adoption of quality engineering methodologies such as DevOps, Agile and CI/CD, test automation has advanced by multiple folds. The automated API testing strategy is one such conspicuously exhibited illustration of advanced test automation.

For businesses who crave for quality and speed, API test automation helps them deliver high-quality applications and faster time-to-market.

However, QA testers often hit roadblocks while creating automated tests for APIs. Some of the most common challenges include:

  • Increased frequency of flaky and unreliable tests.
  • Difficulty in identifying and isolating large systems errors.
  • Greater turnaround time for fixing the defects.

Here is a list of some recommended practices that can help testers overcome these challenges and achieve the desired results with their API test automation process.

1.      Stick to the DRY principle

DRY or “Don’t Repeat Yourself” as an approach focuses on minimizing redundancies in the software testing process. Following this approach helps QA teams reduce both their time and effort while also making the process simpler.

However, there are some instances in API testing when QA testers need to run the same tests repeatedly to validate endpoints for multiple user data. Even in those situations, the DRY approach can be emulated by creating a library with common user test requests.

2.      Do not compromise on clarity

Whether it’s writing the test cases or preparing test reports, clarity is the key to a seamless software testing process. Unfortunately, when tests are running smoothly and successfully, QA teams may not focus more on clarity, which they should.

However, the importance of writing clear user stories and test cases is mostly visible while debugging a code. The process of checking the failed test cases can be time-consuming. So, it can get even more cumbersome if test cases are not clear about testing requirements.

To avoid running into such a similar situation in the future, it is recommended that QA teams prepare thorough reports on test failures.

3.      Monitor API performance

API or Application Programming Interface is a software interface that facilitates communication between two software applications. It implies that the functioning of a system’s API is interdependent on other systems’ APIs that interact with it. Therefore, even while conducting API tests, it is crucial to monitor the API performance functionality.

From validating the inputs and their respective results from one API to another to checking if the data sets are structured in a correct format, QA testers need to test the performance from multiple API endpoints continuously.

4.      Think like a consumer

Enterprises follow a set procedure for software quality assurance, which helps them detect most software errors. However, QA testers usually do not think like consumers, which is why some defects escape their eyes.

Since it’s a common phenomenon, many organizations have Bug Bounty Programs in place. Such schemes reward users for reporting a defect in the software. The bigger the defect, the better the reward. Nonetheless, such programs also come at a cost and do some damage to the business’s credibility.

Most of the errors reported by users usually seem unpredictable during the software testing process. Hence, it is recommended that software testers get into the consumers’ shoes during the QA process to get hold of even the unpredictable defects.

5.      Minimize the Fixed Data Sources

While operating in a live environment, the API of a particular system relies on the outputs from other system’s APIs. Due to such interdependencies, validating only the API endpoints cannot provide a correct outcome. To successfully test such interactions in live situations, QA testers need to perform an integration test.

Automated API integration testing ensures that the static data collected from the second API is not used in subsequent testing processes. Instead, it makes sure that individual endpoints are tested based on the actual user flow.

6.      Structure your tests

An API is a blend of different methods and operations that can be validated both individually as well as by setting up a test scenario. In both cases, structuring the API tests based on the recommended approaches helps you get the desired outcome.

  • To start with, you can perform syntax tests on the individual methods. This is done by checking if the system accepts the correct inputs and rejects the incorrect ones.
  • Next in the line is functional testing the individual methods to ascertain if the API operations undergo as it was intended to do.

As both the approaches are followed, the subsequent step is to bind the successful ones together as a method call to emulate the business processes.

Final thoughts

Since API is mostly aligned with the business logic layer, even a minor glitch in the API testing can result in a major system breakdown. With such high stakes, it’s imperative for enterprises to follow the recommended practices.

However, even though organizations take API test automation very seriously, not many are fully equipped to follow the best practices religiously. In this context, quality engineering firms that are well-versed with all the technology assurance frameworks come into the picture.

Moreover, seeking expert guidance on software quality assurance in cases API test automation can ease the additional burden on organizations’ QA and Dev teams.

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