API virtualization is a full working copy of the API that can imitate the minimum behaviors of one or more of its endpoints. It is the last testing stage to check off on before the API is finally released. Using API virtualization, the API team can find and deal with any last bottlenecks left by dependencies in the testing environment. Specific benefits of creating a virtualized copy of your API include the following:
- Significant savings on testing costs
- Greater productivity in testing
- Less time spent on building, then rebuilding the API’s scaffold
- A shorter time period between testing and a trouble-free launch of the API
In order to reap such benefits, however, one must invest in a good service virtualization tool. A service virtualization tool will allow the API team to use virtual services (as opposed to production services) to enact frequent and comprehensive testing. Even with some components missing in the API’s system architecture, the team can still make accurate assessments about how the future product will behave.
There are lots of promising options in the open-source API community, which makes a compelling case for using an OpenAPI Specification Toolkit for virtualization. For one, this kind of toolkit could help you save money on licensing costs, which are usually quite expensive on big-name commercial service virtualizations. For another, the ones available in today’s market have a bigger, more sophisticated range of features than ever before.
With the many choices for virtualization tools and accompanying toolsets that are out there, how can you choose the best one for your API team? Here are five factors you should consider before you make a purchase.
An Overall Toolset That is Easy to Use
You will definitely want a service virtualization tool that doesn’t require your team to follow a steep learning curve. The suite should make it easy for them to manipulate all the necessary API virtualization tools. There shouldn’t be a need for your team to keep writing receipts or bend themselves backward just to configure performance environments. The less time your team spends figuring out how to use the platform and the related tools, the better. It means that they’ll have more time to dedicate to actually testing with the virtualization.
A Service Virtualization Tool That Enhances Your Workflow
A disruption to the established workflow is likely one of your API team’s worst nightmares. Thus, the service virtualization tool should adapt to their workflow instead of hampering it. The best tool will keep the team organized, productive, and efficient in aspects like test data management, test data generation, and message routing among others. Ultimately, what’s needed is an API service virtualization tool that clears the team’s path from Point A to Point B.
A Service Virtualization Tool That Can Support Multiple API Technologies
Your tool should support either SOAP or REST APIs, whichever it is of the standard communication protocols you’ll be using. In addition, it should accommodate the data format your team plans to use, whether it be JSON or XML. It should also be able to virtualize other key components of the API, such as web pages and databases. A service virtualization tool is worth its salt if it can hold up all the technologies that will power your API.
A Service Virtualization Tool That Can Automate Key API Virtualization Processes
It will save your team a lot of grief if the tool can automate vital tasks related to the API’s virtualization. Along with the time needed to replicate each task, automation reduces the chance of human error and, consequently, efforts spent debugging. One important example is the automation of continuous integration/continuous deployment or CI/CD for short. CI/CD automation will take care of the consistent deployment of new pieces of code to their designated environments. In summary, automation capacities like these will let your team test the virtualized copy without them needing to backtrack and do work all over again.
A Large Support Community behind the Service Virtualization Tool
Of course, it would also help for the tool to have a support community of its own. It’s from this kind of community that you can find fellow users and API experts who can teach you how to use the tool suite. Community members can also give feedback on how to troubleshoot any problems you come across in the service virtualization tool. Should the community be large and active, it will be a breeze for you to find references on how to manage the whole suite and keep track of post-virtualization changes.
Conclusion: Settling on the Best API Service Virtualization Tool
Before you purchase any software, do your research on what it offers. Find a tool that your team will be comfortable using, as well as one that fits your needs and your budget. The investment and time you’ll spend working with the service virtualization tool will pay off when your API is finally released into the market.