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.

StopLight makes API Development an Easier Process

Modeling applications have assisted programmers in architecting software for years. So it stands to reason the process of API design and development would also benefit from the use of models during the SDLC. StopLight is one such application, offering shops a full visual API modeling suite, including documentation and other useful features.

The best applications used for software development stay out of the way, while making the entire architecting, coding, and testing processes easier. With that said, let’s take a closer look at StopLight to see if it needs to be part of your team’s API tool arsenal

The Need for a Better API Design Tool

Like many other innovative technology products – Ruby on Rails comes to mind – StopLight was developed by software engineers wanting a better tool to make their work easier. Company founder Marc MacLeod commented on how the need for a better API tool led to StopLight’s genesis. “I’m an engineer, and StopLight is the solution to problems I faced repeatedly. Before StopLight, best practices were very manual — with no easy way to document and test APIs in an accessible, collaborative setting. StopLight changes this paradigm,” said MacLeod.

StopLight first became available in February of 2016. The designer tool is free to use for singular developers, while team subscriptions are also available – starting at a monthly rate of $8 per person. At those prices, downloading the application to test drive its features and functionality is a smart call for any API shop. The app is available on the Mac, Windows, and Linux platforms.

StopLight – Features and Functionality

The StopLight application suite includes three main modules. The API Designer is the heart of the tool, providing a way for developers to collaborate on model design leveraging open standards. A documentation module automatically generates API documentation every time the model changes – a boon for public API shops.

Prism Proxy gives developers a way to validate and mock API requests. Users can either install the proxy on a local server, or use StopLight’s Cloud-hosted version for up to 20,000 requests per month. One useful feature provided by Prism Proxy is the ability to reverse engineer an API – simply run traffic through the proxy and StopLight automatically generates end point and model definitions.

An Easy to Use API Design Tool

StopLight’s easy to use API Designer module lets everyone work together on API designs, no matter their level of technical expertise. Even business stakeholders with little to no programming experience are able to use the tool. This is one feature attractive to DevOps and Agile development teams where collaboration and interaction are vital to the success of a project.

Version 2 of StopLight entered a public beta phase in July, with a new module used for testing APIs, including the debugging of HTTP requests. Better collaboration features are also part of the new release. A new pricing model adds flexibility to shops of all sizes.

StopLight is worthy of further exploration for any API development shop. This product continues to garner a lot of buzz in the industry.

Keep coming back to the Betica Blog for additional insights into the world of QA and software development.

Postman brings Flexibility to API QA and Development

With the myriad of API development and QA tools in the marketplace — we’ve covered many examples, most recently, SOAtest — finding one to meet the needs of your shop seems like a daunting task. Postman positions itself as an application able to plan, develop, build, test, and document APIs. Not surprisingly, it is known as the “Swiss Army Knife” of API tools.

Let’s take a closer look at Postman to see if it makes sense in your team’s toolbox. It just might be the API development application with the flexibility to supercharge your productivity.

Build APIs more Quickly with Postman

As an integrated suite for the entire API development lifecycle, Postman offers the promise of building APIs faster and more efficiently. The Postman is app is available at no cost for the Windows, Mac, and Chrome platforms, while Cloud and Enterprise versions with more collaboration features cost only a nominal monthly fee.

The application’s UI facilitates the creation of HTTP requests, while integrating unit testing features to validate both response data and response time. Different requests are able to be grouped into Collections for better management. You can organize these collections into folders to mimic an API’s online structure. Sample responses are stored with each request to better explain its functionality and expected output.

It is important for developers to enter descriptive information into the request and response metadata, as the Postman UI leverages this information to describe the functionality of each request and the entire API. Developers can use the powerful search engine to find a specific request to meet their needs. This same metadata is used to automatically generate the API documentation, which becomes publically sharable with a button click — a boon for shops developing their own public APIs.

An Application Architecture to add even more Flexibility

Postman supports a variety of add-ons to make the application even more flexible. Newman provides automated testing features, including integration with your build app and the ability to kick off testing in a cron job. Chrome users need to check out Interceptor which leverages the Chrome window to easily view cookies and to capture and import requests into the Postman app.

Both add-ons are available as free downloads.

Enterprise Collaboration Features

As mentioned earlier, the regular Postman app is a free download, but development teams can upgrade to either the Cloud or Enterprise versions of the app, providing additional collaboration features for an inexpensive monthly fee.

Postman Cloud is priced at $4.99 per user per month (billed annually), and includes access to Postman’s Cloud API along with real-time collaboration features. Enhanced team management functionality is also part of the Cloud feature set, in addition to support for admin and billing roles — another plus for public API development shops.

All the features of Cloud are also available in Postman Enterprise, with the inclusion of invoice-based billing. Enterprise is priced at $21.99 per user per month billed annually.

Considering the basic version of Postman is simply a free download, it makes perfect sense to grab a copy and give the app a test run. You may find it becomes an invaluable part of your API development arsenal. The Cloud and Enterprise editions add useful functionality for shops specializing in public API development.

Keep an eye on the Betica Blog for additional dispatches from the worlds of software development and QA. Thanks for reading!