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API integration is necessary to connect multiple applications through an application programming interface, which allows information to be exchanged. This helps to manage workflows across different areas and levels of the company, generating synchronization of information, increasing efficiency and profitability of organizations.
On its own, the API is an interface used almost throughout the digital world
. Despite the size of the company, APIs give stable operation and high performance to websites, software and other web-based systems
. That said, there are some requirements that have to be studied to achieve automated processes, optimal operation of all the procedures that interact with the data. This is the context in which API integration is important.
Why do I need API integration?
Connecting to APIs allows applications to sync and change data without human intervention. Developers create a kind of connection between several tools through their APIs, which allows the whole system to be automated.
In today's reality, it is impossible to ignore the necessity of this process because of the large number of cloud products and applications. A company has to create a system where information can be transmitted automatically between different types of software tools
. API makes it possible. It is creating flexibility, making it easier to work with content on sites or in applications.
Steps to achieve API integration
Several techniques are available for achieving API integration. For most situations, they depend on the personal needs of the company or ecosystem:
- Personal integrations. Formed to order, characterized by having a handwritten script from software developers with an understanding of API documentation. The method is just becoming popular, although its price and maintenance is too high in comparison with new techniques. There is another disadvantage - it takes a lot of time to integrate correctly.
- Application Connector. It is used to facilitate information transfer between a couple of software products. This is an affordable method that speeds up the rollout of traditional API solutions. It makes management and maintenance easier and reduces the management of APIs.
- API integration platforms. Frequently they include SaaS software for developing API integrations, allowing connectivity to other software and SaaS systems. They provide flexibility, users can form their own application for integration by applying tools.
How API integration works. Source
API integration tools are plentiful, once you choose, it's important to take a few steps:
- Evaluate your business goals and processes to find problem points. It will help to understand how the integration will help solve the problems. It is better to get support from software analysts and administrators.
- Develop and create an application capable of working with the platform API to form a new functionality for solving specific goals.
- Conduct testing inside your own system.
Below we will analyze the best tools for API management and testing, but for now let's consider the advantages of integration.
The main pros of API integration
API integration has quite a few pluses, but there are some of the most notable and significant ones that any business or company needs:
- Automation. With integration it is possible to achieve automatic transfer of data from one software to another. Using this advantage reduces human labor, saving time and eliminating the number of errors significantly.
- Scalability. After adding capabilities, organizations begin to grow, because you don't have to start from scratch when creating connected applications.
- Optimization. This process gives a complete visibility of the operation, the system, which has a positive impact on the interaction and reporting. With optimization, managers can more easily monitor and control the data and generate reliable reports.
- Minimizing errors. Integration helps to communicate complex and massive data, reducing likely errors or inconsistencies.
A lot of technological developments are created through API integration. This market has been developing actively with new tools to work on and soon the platforms will start to solve more complex corporate tasks.
Tools for API management
A lot of existing solutions on the market created for API management allow companies to increase the efficiency of their API integration usage. Each option provides a number of advantages and disadvantages for development, testing, and maintenance.
Popular API management tools. Source
Tools are defined as the technology used by developers to operate and manage APIs:
Administration platforms allow centralized control, provide guarantees for strict support of performance and security guidance.
Control solutions are delivered in conjunction with the other services. They are necessary to simplify the deployment of integration, operation with other settings and developers. The main components of API management are:
- Gateway - the access points to services within the same ecosystem. It routes requests from clients to external protocols. They guarantee the security of the API. Open authorization and TLS encryption are applied. Developers have access to the application of microservices in the form of controlled APIs.
- Developer Portal. Different scopes component with the main plus - that developers can personally look and distribute documentation on the API. This portal is needed to speed up the research, creation and testing of their own APIs, making the work of the team easier.
- Reporting and analytics. Organizations can measure the number of users by any method with this element. API services work through an artificial method of monitoring availability, response time and performance. Some provide tools for analytics with protocols to extract information under automatic reporting, analysis. Using such resources, businesses will be able to make the right decision to their own applications, services, locating and removing possible integration issues.
- API lifecycle management. Integration is an important element for digital transformation. API lifecycle control provides a number of benefits. Management turns out to be a long-term one with 100% control of each stage (testing, development, adaptation, administration).
Being aware of all the features of API integration, let's break down the TOP tools for their management, implementation, testing.
Top 5 API management tools
Check out a list of the best options for API management.
Considered one of the best and affordable solutions, suitable for partner, cloud, consumer applications. It can also be used for recording systems, IoT or software developed exclusively for company employees. Users can create, protect, evaluate, or extend APIs through such software, no matter where they are located.
- Ability to deliver the desired results (responses) using a proxy or agent.
- Easier for developers to shape new cloud software.
- Creators can create and distribute their software without any problems.
- Tracking and measurement is available with a built-in analytics tool that shows API traffic data, with KPI measurements.
Apigee gives you full control of your APIs, monitoring the entire workflow.
According to Gartner, this control platform is considered promising for 2023 because of its powerful API infrastructure integration, and interesting design.
- Gives users access to multiple API standards at once.
- API lifecycle can be fully monitored.
- 100% site customization for developers.
- A secure gateway for analytics, allowing you to scale and adapt the API.
The tool is good for administration and application bundling. The solution works effectively in creating APIs and provides a complete guide to developing a network of applications from scratch.
The main parameters are:
- A single API platform.
- Forming a community, with the possibility of using it to work and support with other specialists.
Software providing integration of cloud data warehouses. It includes content work, creation of software, and API administration.
- API trend analytics.
- Complete development guide.
The term of this tool means "oxygenation of web resources" in translation. The platform is a cloud type, local and suitable for API management. It has an open source and gives the ability to control the entire lifecycle. Among the additional solutions we will highlight the usage of monetization and administration.
- Due to monetization there is the possibility of an additional source of income for developers from the platform.
- API traffic control with protection against possible threats.
- Availability of analysis software that measures and monitors results.
Top 5 open-source API management tools
In deploying modern software, open-source API management tools are almost standard. Let's take a look at 5 gateways for IT infrastructure without organizing the list by specific hierarchy.
Architectural components of API management solutions. Source
Kong Gateway (OSS).
The API gateway is characterized by cross-platform compatibility, popular with developers, despite being complex in its own right
. It is developed for the Lua language, with support for hybrid and multi-cloud architectures. Kong was built from scratch to achieve high performance, portability and extensibility.
A robust, lightweight gateway built in Go. The cloud architecture is easy to extend and connect. The tool is self-contained, storage is possible via Redis. There is the ability to publish, manage legacy services, REST and GraphQL.
- rate limitation;
- version control;
Before releasing, there is an option to simulate the API.
An API gateway with no state saving, built with Go for maximum speed. It is characterized by portability and the lack of a database and is easily configurable
. A large number of endpoints, server parts are supported in the tool.
The following services are available to users:
- QoS functions;
- detailed timeouts;
KrakenD includes SSL, proxy services, has a flexible design with the ability to add features, plugins or scripts without replacing source code.
Java-based development will allow companies to protect, analyze and publish their APIs. Includes 3 modules:
- API management - an effective tool, it can be customized.
- Access Management (AM) - simplified identity and access management model based on OAuth2/OpenID Connect.
- Alert Engine (AE) - helps you to monitor your API platform quickly and easily, with alerts and their configuration. A similar module will help identify questionable behavior.
Built on Go, is a traffic controller. It is integrated with Kubernetes and supports classic applications, microservices and serverless software. You can link your own environment to it, choosing security, scheduling tools.
Developers will be able to make hybrid software using different technology bases
, architectures, and protocols. Gloo Edge combines GraphQL, gRPC, OpenTracing, NATS, etc. which gives an excellent functionality.
Top 4 free API management tools
Now let's take a look at the free API management methods that will help not only beginners but also experienced developers and administrators:
- MuleSoft Anypoint - a free solution, gives you the ability to create a software network that includes applications, data and devices when they are deployed.
- Workato - is a popular platform for API integration and automation. It automates many business processes by linking applications without compromising security. Companies with this product can influence the results of events in real time.
- io is a leading automation platform with a serverless design. The Tray platform is characterized by a minimal code, however, a complete data security and enterprise support.
- Kong API Gateway - is fast and scalable tool, characterized by versatility. The platform is freeware suitable for API management. Kong Enterprise is responsible for the protection, maintenance and tracking of all services, which helps to accelerate all innovations.
Best tools for API testing
In addition to integration and API management, it is important to still understand the tools. There are 10 different options among the popular and in-demand ones for 2023.
The best API testing tools. Source
A widespread tool around the world for checking APIs. It is used not only by testers, but also for developers, regular project managers. It is suitable for working with APIs, API-related services, and is also appropriate for sending/receiving HTTP requests and many other tasks.
- Logical testing without the command line.
- Extracting API information through the Postman menu.
- Functions for test automation, debugging, API control.
- Easy to use REST client.
You can send HTTP requests and get JSON answers with Postman. The software provides users with powerful capabilities for testing, controlling and combining the Postman API with Katalon Studio.
Complimentary environment for automating gadget and web development application testing. Fitting for controlling functional parameters of web service and software itself.
The main parameters:
- Availability commands and customizable functions.
- Implementation of the user interface and API on different platforms, in Windows, Mac OS and Linux.
- AssertJ support.
- There is a possibility of automated testing or exploratory tests.
Users can make tests that can simulate application actions or send queries
. The results will help to identify bugs or verify software behavior under different factors.
The tool supports HTTP, AMQP, SOAP and other protocols. Main emphasis is placed on reliability and accuracy, high informative API check results.
The main features are:
- Improved reuse of scripts.
- You can do end-to-end testing by running API tests in mobile, cross-browser and applications.
- Fast and efficient regression checks.
- Manual testing without a Tosca environment.
A Platform for simplifying tests of REST services with Java domain languages (DSL). It is suitable for REST APIs and working with endpoints before releasing them.
- Functionality helps to develop software without single problems.
- Different authentication methods for tests and API validation.
- HTTP support.
- Suitable for seamless Serenity integration.
A powerful but easy to use tool for testing the functionality of SOAP and REST APIs. It features an advanced platform to help developers test their APIs. Infrastructure creates tests using industry-standard protocols, specifying with high accuracy which HTTP methods, headers, and response content to apply.
The characteristics are:
- Simplifies complex work with JSON and XML.
- You can download information from a database, files or Excel to work with API consumers.
- Free package includes access to SoapUI source code.
Tests are dynamic, adapting automatically to the output API information if the input data changes.
It is a performance testing tool. This is a powerful software for testing various web services and programs.
- Integrates JMeter with Jenkins, developers are able to test APIs in CI pipelines.
- High flexibility, which allows you to customize the tool based on personal requirements.
- Works with dynamic and static resources.
- Conducts load and performance tests for any servers.
Ideal for web applications, websites.
It provides a performance control to any cloud service provider
. The tool is designed for scalability and providing reliability, so users can be assured of long and stable API performance and a high quality service.
- Easy to perform API tests.
- Integration with GitHub, Slack, Zapier, etc.
- Support for checking HTTP responses with ready assertions.
The tool is applicable for monitoring software version status, software performance, increases application availability.
The Unified resource that lets you run API, performance, load tests. The tool was created originally to test microservices and API-driven applications.
- Writing tests with any language that works with HTTP, JSON or XML.