What APIs Should I be Monitoring?
# api# api monitoring

What APIs Should I be Monitoring?

In today's day and age on the internet, you hear about APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) everywhere.

APIs literally fuel the web and are an essential layer of any web application whether that be an online E-Commerce system that sells products or services, right down to basic sites that need to pull in a Twitter feed for instance.

If your business isn't using API monitoring, or you're not sure what APIs you should be monitoring, in this blog post I'm going to tell you what APIs to monitor and why.

Ready? Let's dive straight into this topic then...

What do APIs do?

what do apis do

We've already covered more about APIs on our blog and where they're used, but what do APIs actually do for a complete beginner?

Typically, when companies are building out their web applications they'll need to interface with some kind of server somewhere, to fetch data and to save data.

An example of this might be within an app that runs on your phone. The app might reach out to an API to fetch your user profile, or when you're saving your user profile you'll be sending data to the API.

A company might also decide to publish an API for other people to use, for you and your business to use even.

Here's some practical examples behind what APIs actually do...

  • Smart devices - devices such as the Amazon Alexa and their range of products can interface with an API for when you're speaking and saying: “Alexa, ...”
  • Web applications - your web application might utilise an API to connect with a server to provide authentication for things such as logging a user in to a system
  • Retail - you might find APIs being used in supermarkets at the checkout on the POS (Point Of Sale) machines to upload data about the items people are buying for reporting purposes

Of course, there are other things that APIs can do as well, in fact, this list is endless and we could be here all day discussing just what they can do!

Depending on APIs for your application

api dependency

If you're like me, you've probably used a third-party API in your application to add some functionality or fetch some data that would've otherwise have taken much longer to code yourself.

Your day-to-day habits on your website and web development likely revolve around API dependency and the types of APIs that you're utilising inside of your application.

For instance, you might be using an API to save a customer's checkout session if you've got a website that sells products to users...

Or, you might have an API to fetch the latest blog posts for your website, which might be more typical if you're using a blogging platform such as WordPress.

API failure scenarios are everywhere

Many things can go wrong with an API, things that can go wrong include:

  • Human error during the development phase of the API
  • Connectivity issues with the API you're using

Imagine this...

You've set up your website to consume and utilise an API for managing the checkout process of your new website.

When all of a sudden a new code change has been made for the API you're using, either by your developers or a company that's behind the API.

Could you imagine what would happen here if you weren't monitoring your API?

You wouldn't know whether there was an error or not, causing you to panic, and rather than waiting to assume that your development team has noticed, why wait, just add the API to an API monitoring tool!

The APIs you should be monitoring

what apis to monitor

Despite the number of APIs all over the internet and in your system, you might have more than one API, and trying to figure out whether a particular API is even worth monitoring might be a little challenging.

So, I'm going to tell you the APIs that you need to be monitoring so that your life can be made easier!

API Monitoring #1: Open source/public APIs

If you're providing an API to other people on the internet, or are a developer that has created one, it's your responsibility as a developer to ensure that your API is working.

You should always make sure that both you, and your users have access to the API you're offering even if you're providing some level of authentication

API Monitoring #2: Website APIs

If you're using an API integration in your website, such as a Stripe integration, you're going to want to ensure that you're monitoring this using an API monitoring tool.

Integrations such as the ones that Stripe offer are essential to ensuring that you can make money through your website and collect sales.

API Monitoring #3: Business APIs

As a website and business owner, reports and stats about your business are going to be essential to your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), and chances are you've built an application that can consume an API to give you this reporting data.

If the endpoint fails, and stops working, you aren't going to know very easily how your business is performing.

This is why monitoring business APIs is a must.

Another example I can give you whilst we're on the topic of business here, is imagine this...

Imagine if you utilise an API for managing the stock levels in a warehouse, what would happen if it was to suddenly stop working? Would you still be able to manage your stock? How much harder would this actually be and would you lose money over it?

Monitoring your API's performance

api performance

One of the benefits of adding your API to our system (like many others) is that we'll be able to tell you precisely how your API is performing in terms of:

  • Response times
  • The status code
  • The duration of a request
  • The size of the payload
  • And what the request body might look like

This data is extremely valuable for debugging and improving your API's performance

What are the takeaways here

api takeaways

Whilst API monitoring might be similar to website monitoring and domain monitoring, being able to monitor every aspect of your website and application is vital for understanding the type of user experience your users are getting.

But also, for monitoring how your business is doing overall. In the long run, it'll save you money and most importantly...

Will give you peace of mind when it comes down to the reliability of your service.

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