API design and development

6 API Tools for design, development and testing

May 25, 2022

Understanding that there is the right tool for every job is crucial to success when building any system. With today’s businesses running many systems across diverse environments, taking advantage of the modern IT economy lies in an organisation’s best interest to create value via their APIs and microservices.

While building and managing APIs can be simple at its root (particularly with REST, which is extremely lightweight) there are many hidden complications during implementation.

Below is our best-pick guide of the leading API tools we recommend.

  • Linx, for implementing logic, building, testing and hosting your API
  • Swagger for documentation
  • Postman or Hoppscotch for testing
  • SoapUI for SOAP and REST tests

 

Linx

Linx is particularly powerful for creating or calling internal and external REST web services. It is one of the fastest ways to extend an API that requires integration with other technologies. (e.g. you need to load or push data into a database, conjure up a rapport, push updates to notification steam. Or modify or encrypt data at any point, etc).

Designed for versatility and speed, it uses common programming logic and principles with pre-built functionality to replace large pieces of code. Additionally, as a backend platform, Linx offers several other features from database to cryptography and can run on-premise and in the cloud, allowing for several possibilities for integrating your API with multiple technologies.

Particularly for API implementation, its features include the assembly and publishing of REST and SOAP web service endpoints and choosing between implementing your API from scratch via a wizard, which also generates the Swagger or Redocly documentation.

Best Use Case
Creating and consuming APIs can be a time-consuming process. While configuring APIs is relatively easy for developers, they typically require some degree of custom programming within the process. With Linx, you simply drag and drop a module into your designer canvas and set up some configuration. Time saved. Integrating with external services becomes far more efficient if you work with an application that consumes several APIs. Furthermore, it can be handled by Business Analysts or IT pros with relative ease.

There are very few drawbacks to using Linx for your development processes. Whether you have existing applications that you would like to connect via SOAP or REST, or if you wish to build an entire software suite within Linx, the API functionality will work exceptionally well for making the connections today to enable your applications to “play well with others.”

Pros/Cons
Linx, however, is not a full API design tool in itself; testing, for instance, should be handled by a third-party application, likewise API documentation.

Swagger

 

Swagger

Swagger editor is one of the leading REST API design tools on the market. It allows you to design and document APIs using a free web-based open-source editor. It allows you to easily se the documentation for your OpenAPI definition, making it easier to understand and use. It is designed solely for creating OpenAPI-based APIs. It provides options to work web-based or in a local environment. The web-based environment is now called SwaggerHub (hosted and maintained by Smartbear). SwaggerHub encourages collaboration and is a hosted and optimized version of the original SwaggerUI. You can still download SwaggerUI (the free version) from Git.

Best Use Case
Well-documented APIs are a necessary aspect of providing them. Creating documentation can be painstaking. However, if people can’t understand how to use your application’s APIs, they simply won’t use them. It’s very helpful for creating easily shareable documentation that can drastically improve the user experience for those attempting to use your APIs.

Pros/Cons
It provides instant visualization of the documentation as it is being created and has several customization options. Then it has some helpful auto-completion tools and will help generate server stubs for APIs in various programming languages. It does not, however, support hypermedia.

Swagger

 

Postman

API design best practices don’t come much better than Postman – a complete API development testing environment that can enable the creation of simple to complex APIs and verify their functionality before building into your applications. You can manually create simple API calls using a straightforward, user-friendly interface. In their own words, “Postman is an API platform for building and using APIs”. Postman is constantly evolving, with new features being added regularly. It also allows you to take advantage of different workspaces to organise various APIs and not get your wires crossed.

Best Use Case
Ensuring APIs work properly is an issue, beyond any coding you may need to do, it can be extremely helpful to have an environment where one can verify if payloads are being sent and/or received properly before any development work. Postman is also great for testing to ensure everything is working as expected.

Pros/Cons
Postman fully integrates existing SDLC methods, ranging from various Agile and Dev/Ops environments to larger waterfall-type organizational models. This makes it well-suited for the professional development process. For this reason, it is regularly used by many software development teams. It can be a little memory-intensive, so it may run slowly on some computers.

Postman

 

Hoppscotch

In their own words:” Hoppscotch is a lightweight, web-based API development suite. It was built from the ground up with ease of use and accessibility, providing all the functionality needed for API developers with minimalist, unobtrusive UI. It is free to use and, as an added perk, completely Open Source!”

The tool offers most testing and options for APIs and has nifty features such as easy-to-use GraphQL testing, and Real-time testing for WebSockets, MQTT, SSE connections and more.

Best Use Case
Testing APIs can be a challenge, especially real-time or GraphQL APIs. Doing it with a lightweight application is a massive bonus if you work with limited resources.

Pros/Cons
If you need a lightweight postman alternative, you can give it a try. It is less feature-rich than Postman, but the fact that it is lightweight and open-source will be a boon for many developers. You can also use it via the web application or install a local application if you want to.

Hoppscotch

 

SoapUI

SoapUI is a complete API automation testing framework for both REST and SOAP methodologies. Features include API functional testing, performance testing, security, and API mocking, and contain reporting tools for viewing metrics of large-scale API testing procedures. SoapUI has free open source and professional versions.

Best Use Case
SoapUI is ideal for developers who need to build APIs daily, and those who must manage large sets of connections. It provides the ability to monitor the activity and behavior of large arrays of APIs with high activity levels.

Pros/Cons
SoapUI boasts a wide range of functional testing features and many important security features, ranging from alerts relating to SQL injection to XSS and more. It provides an array of handy actionable alerts for any problems.

As it is open-source, developers may modify any source code to meet their needs at any time. It is an advanced tool, so for many users, some pieces may be more complicated than they may be used to. The free trial version offers fewer of the more user-friendly pieces.

SoapUI

 

Summary

Working with APIs may seem complicated, as it requires connecting seemingly unrelated applications and enabling them to work together. However, the process has gotten considerably easier due to the evolution from SOAP to REST and GraphQL.

The fact that applications use standard communication formats like JSON makes it possible for a whole new range of development opportunities. APIs make it possible to create lightweight applications which can quickly adapt and traverse the rapidly changing ecosystem of web software.

With the right API design tools, API development and management can become a seamless part of your development process and enable you and your clients to remain agile in today’s competitive environment.