How new API tools are transforming API management

With an effective API management platform, you can connect data, apps, devices—all the “things” you need to speed innovation with APIs and microservices.

Jiri De Jagere Jiri De Jagere

APIs are taking over the world, revolutionizing the way your enterprise organizes IT, and giving you new ways to reach and secure lots of customers.

They are powering supply chains and are re-shaping the value chain. According to a recent Nordic APIs statistics roundup, over 90% of developers are using APIs and they spend nearly 30% of their time coding them. This clearly illustrates how important APIs have become for businesses, but also how much impact they have on the workload of IT professionals.

In the wake of the massive growth of API adoption there has been a surge in both launches and funding of API-centric start-ups. Many focus on innovating business services like communication services, payment processing, anti-fraud services, banking services etc. Others offer technical capabilities that zoom in on the needs of API providers and consumers – the developers, which begs the question how these tools complement full lifecycle API management solutions like webMethods API Management.

Full lifecycle API management supports all stages of an API’s lifecycle, from planning and design through implementation and testing to deployment and operation. It is a cornerstone of your digital business capabilities. Yet we are seeing these specialized tools address specific API stakeholder needs at certain stages in the API lifecycle. We have designed webMethods API Management to be an open platform that enables collaboration throughout the API lifecycle and actively endorse integrations with other tools when they add value for you.

In a series of posts, both here and on our Tech Community page, I will be digging deep into examples that illustrate how a specialized tool and webMethods API Management can work together to improve how you build, manage and use APIs. I’ll be using the API Landscape to identify meaningful examples.

The API Landscape

The API Landscape is a source for learning about both established and up-and-coming API solutions. The API Landscape is the representation of a dataset built over multiple years by apidays, and captures the dynamism and breadth of the API industry. The API Landscape aims to capture all the tools available that enable digital ecosystems around the world and across all industries.

You will notice that the API Landscape categorizes API tools by function. In these posts I will be focusing on how API tools complement full-lifecycle API management, and look primarily at tools from the API lifecycle platform category and its sub-categories.

API tools in relation to the API lifecycle

As the focus is on tools that add value at specific stages within the API lifecycle, I will always relate the tool to the relevant stage(s) in the API lifecycle. There are a lot of different flavors of the API lifecycle process out there, but for simplicity’s sake you can see a simple version below.

Here are the different API lifecycle stages described above:

  • The design stage is where you collect requirements and plan out the implementation of an API. You could start from scratch with a new API, or work on a new version of an existing API. The design of your API influences how well developers will be able to consume it, and often even how they use it. Dr. Matthias Biehl wrote an excellent series on designing great API developer experiences and dives deeper into topics like API specifications, style guides, developer portals and much more. The API landscape dedicates an entire section to API design and documentation platforms. In a later post I will be looking at Stoplight, who offer specialized features for collaboration on the design and documentation of APIs via the OpenAPI standard, which you can use with webMethods API Gateway and Developer Portal.
  • During the develop stage the API is implemented according to the specifications created in the previous stage. This is where the actual coding or integration work happens to implement the business logic of the API. You might use frameworks (ioexpress.js, etc.) to code the implementation. Or use an integration platform like our own Integration to compose new business logic using third party services and existing integrations into enterprise systems.
  • Thorough testing of each iteration for functionality, security and performance is a crucial part of any software development lifecycle, and thus equally important for APIs. Any issues you find can be looped back quickly to the developers so they can further build and refine the implementation. Postman is the market leader for functional API testing. The Postman Collection has practically become a standard for defining unit and integration tests, with tools focusing on other aspects like performance and security using them as input. In other posts I will be looking at unit and integration testing with Postman, performance testing with k6 and automated penetration testing with apisec.
  • Once thoroughly tested, you will want to release the API. This stage often involves more than merely deploying the API into production. It is also when you release updated documentation and notify developers, update any API plans for monetization, and ensure the required rules for security, monitoring and analytics are set up. Our full lifecycle API management solution offers plenty of capabilities in this area.
  • Ongoing monitoring of your APIs not only helps you ensure you continue to deliver the required service levels in a secure and performant way. API monitoring is a great sources of insights that helps you design future iterations of your APIs and attract more developers. In other posts I will be looking at how the API security solutions from our partners Cequence, Noname and Salt integrate with webMethods API Gateway. I will also be looking at integrating API analytics by Moesif with webMethods API Gateway.
  • As a final stage, the retire stage is where APIs are taken out of production.

Modern software delivery for APIs

The API lifecycle is a high level abstraction of the actual delivery process for APIs. Ultimately APIs are software, and our industry has well-established best practices, such as DevOps, for software delivery. In all of the examples we will look at, I will assume DevOps best-practices and the use of CI/CD platforms for automation are a pre-requisite.

If you are interested in learning about how webMethods API Management integrates with your DevOps processes, you’ll love this demonstration based on Jenkins and Kubernetes, and this GitHub repository with example scripts for Jenkins and Azure Pipelines. Also, take a look at using GitHub Actions for CI/CD automation in another post.

What’s next?

We have designed webMethods API Management to be an open platform that enables collaboration throughout the API lifecycle. It is regarded by analysts as a leader in full lifecycle API management. With this series of posts I am committed to demonstrate how certain API tools complement our solution.

Follow this blog and our Tech Community blogs for deep dives.