Simply put, an API store is a one-stop-shop designed for API consumers and partners to explore the catalog of API solutions made available through your company. The store provides a convenient self-service access to these APIs. These APIs are securely exposed to partners and 3rd party developers to access the company’s services, which in turn helps the company to tap into new market opportunities, facilitating innovation and newer revenue models.
With the API store, 3rd party application developers and partners can -
- Discover APIs, review documentation and go deeper into functional details and use cases.
- Get hands-on with the APIs, to get a feel of the functionality and potential of the published APIs.
- Subscribe to these published APIs from your API Store to enable speed, scale, security & savings for their projects
But how are these APIs exposed onto your API store?
To answer this, we need to understand the complete API lifecycle management process.
Full Lifecycle API Management provides a holistic view of how to manage different stages in the life of an API i.e. identifying, designing, publishing, promoting, retiring and overseeing the APIs in a secure, scalable environment. Since Apps and the APIs that support them are an integral part of enterprise digital strategies, the ability to manage the complete API lifecycle becomes critical for the strategy’s success.
Phases in an API lifecycle
1) Planning and Designing APIs
This phase involves determining the business case for building APIs, drafting a design methodology, de-risking implementation challenges, and taking a futuristic view of maintaining public APIs on the API store.
While designing APIs, it is imperative to keep the versioning policies in order to provide the ability to strategically evolve an API over time, while being able to control the scope of impact during migration phases.
2) Publishing APIs
When an API provider (i.e. organization behind the API implementation) publishes APIs on the API publisher portal, those APIs get exposed to third-party developers on the API store for discovery and usage by partner organizations. Partners and third-party developers can access the API store to register their applications, discover APIs, use the required APIs in their applications (with access approval where necessary), and subsequently deploy those applications.
3) Testing APIs
At this point in the process, the API provider is ready with an exhaustive test plan, so the APIs are tested under all possible scenarios. Test automation tools are extremely critical here to help accelerate API testing and achieve efficiency. Also, before using an API, third-party developers prefer to test it first, so your API Portal/Store must offer an easy “try-it” feature.
Some of the leading test automation tools available for API testing in the market include Katalon Studio, Postman, Jmeter, RestAssured. Torry Harris has developed its own test automation tool called AutomatonTM which has a visual flowchart-based design interface. It enables complete test automation of all components of an application - Web, APIs, Logs and Database Processes/Operations. This tool comes with a rich set of APIs that helps integrate with popular CI tools like Jenkins.
4) Retiring APIs
Recognizing when to retire your APIs is an essential part of the lifecycle. In this phase, support for an API’s version, or in many cases, an entire API itself, is discontinued due to various factors like limited use, lack of 3rd party developer innovation, change in API strategy etc. When multiple versions of the same API exist, a governance mechanism is required to ensure that the total number of API versions do not proliferate in an uncontrolled fashion.
There are instances where the application or the site owner who owns the API endpoints may need to make a few breaking changes in order to provide a better customer experience for their development projects. To achieve that, they would require to release a new version of the API or shut down the older version completely. As an API provider, you need to be equipped to plan these necessary changes to your APIs and migrate consumers to new versions. At the same time, plan to deprecate the older APIs from the store to ensure that your API store stays healthy and updated.