Monitor API Usage with Runscope

Any company involved in the development of APIs, or even those simply building web or mobile applications dependent on them, benefits from being able to analyze API performance before deployment to production. A tool combining this performance testing functionality with testing and monitoring capabilities offers a full range of features wanted by most software teams. Runscope is just this kind of application.

What follows is an overview of Runscope to help you determine whether it makes sense to add it to your organization’s API testing toolbox. It may just ensure your applications and APIs perform as expected in production.

A Closer Look at Runscope

Runscope is a relatively new product and company. Formed by two software engineers, John Sheehan and Frank Stratton, the initial version of the application became available in the first half of 2013. The primary goal of their API analysis tool involves trusting an API running on a remote server just like it was running on a developer’s local machine.

Runscope Monitoring Features and Functionality

Uptime monitoring of an API – in real-time – is a major selling-point for Runscope. The product promises the engineers responsible for tracking an application in a production environment will know if an API breaks before the client or customer. It integrates with a wide variety of popular notification and messaging apps, including Slack, PagerDuty, email, as well as offering support for webhooks.

An on-premises agent (supporting Linux, OS X, and Windows) allows for the seamless monitoring of private APIs. This is in addition to Runscope’s standard Cloud-based SaaS (located in 12 global data centers) used for public API analysis. The tool includes threshold-based notifications to lower the instance of false positives. 

Real-time performance data helps analyze an API’s response times as well as the ratio of successful calls to failures. Engineers are able to quickly detect any issues requiring closer analysis and debugging. Runscope’s data can be imported into third-party analytical tools, like Keen IO, Datadog, and New Relic Insights.

Additional API Testing Capabilities

Runscope sports other functionality aimed at the testing of APIs. You are able to verify data in the JSON and XML formats, as well as validate HTTP headers and response status codes. Advanced validations are also possible in code using JavaScript and the Chai Assertion Library.

Users are able to create dynamic test scripts for vetting API workflows, without any coding effort. Test plan creation in the Swagger format, among others, offers a more structured level of API QA. Runscope also integrates with Jenkins and other similar tools for organizations leveraging a Continuous Integration release cycle.

Interested customers can test drive Runscope on a free trial basis. Their premium service is structured across three tiers based on the number of API requests and users, with monthly prices ranging from $79 to $599; the higher two levels also include priority support and live chat. There is also a Premier level with additional custom features and extra traffic handling.

In short, Runscope’s full range of API monitoring and testing features, along with its compatibility with industry standard messaging and analytical tools, makes the tool worth checking out at any shop specializing in API development.

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for additional dispatches and analysis from the software development and QA world. Thanks for reading, as always.

Making Agile work Better with Scaled Retrospectives

The Agile movement continues to mature as companies gain more experience with the software development methodology. We previously talked about the Agile Tribes organizational innovations implemented by the music streaming company, Spotify. In short, it allowed the company to improve their overall efficiency to better meet the goals of the business.

Scaled Retrospectives (or “Scaled Retros”) is another recent Agile innovation aimed at handling the various problems that crop up outside of the normal scope of a development team. Let’s take a closer look at this concept to see if it makes sense implementing it in your shop.

Scaled Retrospectives – What are They?

During any software project – Agile or not – a variety of issues come up impacting a team’s ability to complete a task on time. In an older methodology like the Waterfall, the entire project might be delayed, while in Agile, a Sprint completion date might be missed. Some problems, like a slow developer, are within the team’s area of influence. Scaled Retrospectives, on the other hand, identify any adverse issues happening beyond the team’s control.

The blog, Agile Uprising, identifies Scaled Retros as items meeting three different criteria. First off, the issue is outside the team’s sphere of control. Secondly, it is impeding their ability to complete work in a timely fashion. Finally, the underlying problem is one that needs to be fixed.

Software development shops that implement a process to identify Scaled Retrospectives are seeing a noticeable increase in efficiency provided an effort is also made to deal with the noted problems. Properly cataloging the items and analyzing any patterns affecting an entire enterprise is a key factor in the success of a Scaled Retros program.

The Benefits of a Scaled Retrospectives Program

While a formal Scaled Retros program benefits big development shops with multiple teams, even smaller groups gain an advantage from identifying any large-scale problems impacting the software engineering process. The author of the Agile Uprising blog post noted above describes a scenario where he cataloged retro items from 100 different teams. This quickly became a process that would require a few full-time employees.

Instead of trying to do everything himself, he engaged the different development teams to communicate with each other. Any serious problems affecting everyone in the shop quickly bubbled to the surface. A cataloging effort was still required, but the amount of repetitive data entry and analysis became smaller. This final process allowed a small list of major problems to be delivered to the senior executives able to fix the issue.

The most notable output of their first Scaled Retro process highlighted the need for an automated build server. This issue was identified by 70 percent of the enterprise’s development teams. The voice of a singular programmer carries more weight when combined with many others.

As noted earlier, even smaller shops would benefit from an informal Scaled Retrospectives program. It is especially vital at large businesses where company-wide issues may not be identified without the effort. The most significant point is to realize the importance of finding any large-scale issues impacting the efficiency of your software development teams.

Put Scaled Retrospectives to work for you!

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for future insights from the worlds of software development and QA. Thanks for reading!

News from the Worlds of Software Development and QA – October 2016

Microsoft Teams is the next Slack competitor; How containers is becoming hot item on serverless infrastructures and more news this October!

With the Autumn season in full force and Halloween approaching, it is time to take another look at a few interesting recent news stories from the software development and QA industry. If you want to check out last month’s news digest, simply click on the following link. Hopefully, this month’s digest gives you and your team some inspiration and insight on your own development and testing duties.

Microsoft to release a Slack Competitor

With the Agile and DevOps methodologies requiring software development teams to communicate better with each other as well as business stakeholders, clients, and network engineers, highly functional messaging apps are currently in vogue in the industry. We previously talked about the growth of ChatOps, and Slack is another popular application aimed at fostering collaboration at the enterprise.

Those watchful eyes in Redmond have been taking note of Slack’s popularity, as shown by the recent news Microsoft is planning to release their own competitor to the app. Called Microsoft Teams – it was known as Skype Teams during development – the tool is expected to be available early in November.

In addition to text messaging, users are able to share files, aggregate texts into different channels, as well as embed emojis and other graphics. Integration with Microsoft’s Cloud-based storage service, One Drive is also expected, along with a built-in calendar. In short, these are many of same features provided by Slack.

ChatOps functionality, including integration with Microsoft’s Visual Studio and other third-party development tools, will make Teams more attractive to the software development community.

Docker making the QA Process more Efficient

Docker’s emphasis on container-like structures to hold development and testing environments continues to make aspects of software development and network management more efficient. This growing trend now impacting software testing was noted this month by InfoWorld magazine. The article serves as a primer for QA team leads and development managers hoping to leverage containers to streamline the QA function at their shop.

The author notes the small size of a Docker container enhances their portability, especially when compared to virtual machines. Their simplicity in Cloud deployment makes it easy to perform load testing on a web app or API. He also discusses how Docker facilitates the testing and deployment of individual services in applications using a microservices architecture.

Anyone interested in using Docker as part of their development and QA processes needs to read the full article, as it is filled with great tips and insights on how to implement the tool in QA environments.

Containers revolutionizing the Software Development World

Containers are definitely a hot item in the software development news this month. This week, the Wall Street Journal published an article describing how container infrastructures are ushering in an era of “serverless” computing. Seen by many industry pundits as a maturing of the Cloud services market, serverless computing essentially means an application is hosted within a container at a Cloud-based provider.

“If you’re moving into the next generation of big shifts like [artificial intelligence] and machine learning, the underlying infrastructure that supports that stuff will be serverless,” said the CTO for GE, Chris Drumgoole. One major Cloud provider, Amazon Web Services (AWS), has been offering a serverless product, called Lambda, for nearly two years.

Expect this trend to continue for the foreseeable future, as businesses of all sizes – and the developers building applications for them – strive for more efficiency and a stronger bottom line.

Keep visiting the Betica Blog for these and other insights from the always evolving worlds of software development and QA.