April 15, 2016

Getting the most out of an API integration: tips from the experts


You've chosen your API provider, got to grips with the documentation, and considered the end-to-end experience of the user. Your product is oozing with potential. But what next? 

In the second of a two-part series, we ask our panel of experts for their best guidance when it comes to maximizing the potential of your API integration. 

Consider reaching out to a developer advocate

Developer ‘advocates’ or ‘evangelists’ are gaining more prominence in the tech industry. Some strong developer advocacy might have been the original element that interested you or hooked you in to a particular API or platform, as they are often to be found writing blogs, giving talks and demos, and helping out at hackathons.

But to make the most of your chosen API, your interaction with them needn’t stop there. You should tap into their knowledge and expertise as you undertake your integration. After all, these guys know their product inside out and have all the tricks to get the best out of it.

Bill Doerrfeld, Editor-In-Chief at Nordic APIs, explains that developer relations and advocates within the API management teams are becoming increasingly commonplace and a useful resource to tap into when you begin building with an API:

“Take advantage of existing support channels: reach out, relate, and connect. Follow your evangelist/advocate/community builder on Twitter, and establish a rapport. We’ve talked to many API developer evangelists through our work, and more often than not, these API teams are small, friendly, and really want third party developers to achieve their full potential. Great platforms often see developer communities form naturally, which is also a helpful network to tap into as an external developer.”

LuckyTrip Founder, Tiff Burns, says that developer communities came in really handy for their team when building their app: "We love a good developer community. It’s not only useful for troubleshooting but also allows developers to highlight bugs and suggest improvements to the provider."

Test, test, and test again

Think your integration is just about good to go? Be extra vigilant and test the hell out of your API integration to make sure it passes the test, under a multitude of conditions.

Martin W. Brennan,tech commentator at Programmable Web and Founder of start-ups The Pratley Company and WeWriteWords suggests using API virtualisation tools which allow you to test third-party API integrations by simulating conditions like congestion or network latency.

“Just remember that the more challenging the artificial conditions you throw at your integration during testing, the more prepared your code will be to stand up to real-world conditions”

Burns advises taking an attentive approach to monitoring the 3rd party service:

“Whilst developing or testing, we never consume real data from the API. Instead we mock responses and replay them back. This way we monitor 3rd party APIs by catching any errors or failed responses and log them in our system so the tech team are notified of any issues.”

Even once you’re fully up and running and ‘live’ with your product integration make sure you are in a routine of constant testing and monitoring to ensure the health of the integration. Doerrfeld recommends using tools for monitoring external APIs such as APImetricsSmartbearAPIscience, or others. 

Thanks once again to our experts for their input and advice:

Bill Doerrfeld of Nordic APIs - LinkedIn and Twitter

Martin W Brennan of The PratleyCo  and WeWriteWords - LinkedIn and Twitter

Tiff Burns of  LuckyTrip - LinkedIn and Twitter

You can follow our very own Skyscanner Developer Advocate, David Low on Twitter

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