The advancement in technology has made sure that the number of software applications relying on API integrations keeps on growing every day.
APIs (Applications Programming Interfaces) are software interfaces that power the sharing of data and communication between applications.
The use of APIs in applications allows developers to pull data from external sources for their applications to meet certain functional requirements.
For instance, if you are building an application that needs map functionality, you might need an API to pull data from other applications such as the Google Maps application.
Unfortunately, APIs can also go wrong. The highest risk of your APIs failing lies in integrations. Other errors might occur making things difficult for your applications. It is, therefore, important to ensure that integrations are tested thoroughly.
For your APIs to meet their expectations, you need to conduct functional testing to ensure that every module, feature, or even function of the application implementing the APIs meets their requirements.
This is vital for organizations or even developers who want to enhance the quality of their software applications. They do that by making sure that they have eliminated any errors or defects in their applications especially when they use APIs to transfer data between the applications.
Such testing is also important in eliminating the pitfalls with APIs, or rather the ways through which APIs can go wrong.
There are different pitfalls that developers need to avoid when building and integrating applications through the use of APIs. Some of the most common ones include:
1. Caching Errors
Most of the time, developers cache API results especially for heavily used APIs, in a bid to improve the performance of their APIs. This is crucial when it comes to making sure that every user can gain access to the data that they need when interacting with applications.
However, this approach can sometimes make your APIs go wrong. For instance, assume a situation where the cached data from the API is changed, or rather outdated. Users will still keep getting this data which might not be useful to them.
In such a situation, developers should check the frequency at which the data is updated and then work towards reducing the caching time. When doing this, they need to make sure that the API performance is not affected.
Another problem with caching comes in when an API caches an error. This means that when users request data, the API returns the cached error, even if developers had already resolved it.
To solve this issue, developers need to perform API testing in an environment that does not implement caching.
2. Invalid Authorization
APIs allow applications to share data and information, something that has made digitization drives the need for cybersecurity .
This means that apart from everything else that they do, they handle very sensitive data that should be protected at all times. It is because of this that they require authorization for one to use them.
API authorization comes in many forms, such as JSON Web Token, OAuth Token, API Key, or a username and password. The most important thing is to make sure that each API request asks for authorization before it can proceed.
With authorization, the API will provide the user with everything that they need since they (the user) have permission for that particular operation.
However, when someone uses invalid authorization (this might be authorization that is incomplete or not formatted correctly), the API produces an error. Most of the time, the error returned is a 403 forbidden error, telling the user that they do not have permission to access the server.
When this happens, developers need to check the authentication they are using to ensure that it is correct. In addition, they can check the API documentation for the correct formatting of the authentication credentials.
3. Invalid Fields
Sometimes, developers use APIs to pass data to it. They do not receive any data from the API. When doing this, they need to make sure that they are providing the API with the correct data. They also need to ignore any data that the API does not support.
To enforce this, it is recommended that the developers carefully read the API’s endpoint documentation to avoid passing incorrect data. If they do not, the API will throw an error message about extraneous or missing data.
In situations where the API is not able to properly handle a response, it might throw a 500 internal server error.
When this happens, it is important to check the data you passed to the API to see if it matches what is provided in the API documentation. This way, you will eliminate any chances of your API going wrong.
4. Wrong HTTP Methods
Finally, using APIs requires one to understand the HTTP method required for every endpoint. The HTTP methods used with APIs include DELETE, PATCH, PUT, POST, and GET. The method used is dictated by the action that one wants to complete.
For instance, when using a Facebook API to get users’ posts on Facebook, you use the GET method. You can use the POST method when posting on Facebook via the API.
These are the most used methods, but PATCH and PUT can also be used especially when updating database records via an API.
When using these methods, you need to make sure that you are using the right one to prevent your API from going wrong. Fortunately, APIs can notify you when they realize that you are not using the right method.
APIs play a crucial role in making sure that applications gain access to the data that they need for their operations. You, therefore, need to make sure that your APIs are properly tested to prevent any of the scenarios discussed above for them not to go wrong.
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