API helps various software products work together. At the same time, API is also software, providing communication or interaction between other software components or systems. Each API has a life cycle.
API often plays an important role in iterative software development process, which develops rapidly. Developers must maintain the stability of the API, and the associated applications need to be updated and changed frequently. For software and services that depend on the API, it may be troublesome to continuously release new versions of the API.
Although there are different views on the actual part of the API life cycle, this article uses five classic phases: planning, development, testing, deployment, and obsolescence.
Any API development project must start with planning and design. Let business team members determine which services and functions the API should expose. Record specific business requirements and output them as comprehensive functional and non functional requirements documents.
After establishing API requirements, the development team can make wise design decisions based on naming rules, architecture and specific protocols to be used. The planning and design shall produce an API specification, which describes the methods and operations supported by the interface, as well as any technical constraints.
API can be written in many programming languages, including PHP, python, ruby,. Net, C, Java and Perl. Coding and testing may require multiple iterations, but the development team should not release the API to production until it is stable. Ultimately, API development requires excellent planning, coding, and testing capabilities, as well as the principles needed to minimize customer-oriented API changes.
API development can be done by a single developer, but usually by an independent, dedicated API development team. Due to teamwork, multiple developers will need to work together to access and maintain their APIs. The entire API team should be able to view and interact with API code, documentation, and test files. This is also important for achieving comprehensive search and version control, helping authorized developers to locate APIs based on conditions such as project and version.
In addition, multiple developers can more easily create documents, test cases, and even marketing materials needed to enable enterprises to successfully use public APIs.
API development plan should always focus on the following three considerations:
How to track API usage, performance, errors and other important indicators.
Security components, especially OAuth 2.0 authorization and API key verification.
Performance and accessibility issues, such as throttling and rate limiting, to ensure adequate API access.
Developers must thoroughly test the functionality, performance, and user acceptance of each iteration of the API. Testers can feed back unsatisfactory results to developers to further build and improve api code.
functional testingIt can verify whether each functional feature works as expected. Use models and test versions to evaluate the functionality of the API according to its specifications. Functional testing also emphasizes security and error handling capabilities to ensure that the API is protected from crashes or attacks.
performance testing Evaluate the performance of the API under load. Many APIs are affected by unstable traffic and unpredictable load conditions. Performance metrics measure the performance of an API under heavy load, such as the time required to respond to an application request.
Acceptance testIt tracks the usage of the API and determines whether it achieves the expected business purpose. Acceptance testing can reveal any new requirements that may arise from changes in the business process or API itself. It helps identify possible changes to existing functions, making the API more useful. For example, in cases where data may be passed to or from the API, acceptance testing can reveal the need to pass more or different data as parameters.
When an API is stable and secure, it can be put into production. However, as with many software products, the initial version of the API may serve as the second phase of performance testing and verification.
For example, a developer may try to apply the latest version of API to an environment without the latest version of API. In this environment, a developer can try to use the latest API version of the software without affecting the real-time version. Ideally, when developers are ready for the latest version, the API can be used in a full production environment. A key part of this process is to collect metrics that track the performance of the API, such as the number of errors it encounters.
Developers must minimize the disruption caused by the new API version. A well written API should include a version calling function, which can retrieve known good versions so that it can be put into production when the new version is not suitable.
API changes that fix errors or improve performance usually do not affect API calls and responses. However, new parameters and parameters for authentication, or other basic design changes, may force users to perform software updates before accessing new API versions.
Developers can extend and update APIs over time to increase business value, but each API increases infrastructure and support costs over time. In the end, the software team eliminated the old API and the old version of the API.
Therefore, enterprises need to carefully plan the migration path from one API version to another, and learn to maintain multiple API versions at one time while optimizing the new version. Software teams need a plan to terminate the life cycle so that they can stop using the API without seriously affecting their daily operations.
Monitoring is an important part of the exit process, especially when tracking the age and history of the API. For example, an enterprise may find that some APIs have hardly been used for 90 to 120 days. However, they are still hosted in the infrastructure, consuming resources and incurring costs. That’s why tracking these APIs is an important part of an effective API retirement plan.
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