In API development, there’s often a testing stage that involves the use of what are called test doubles. These are “dummy parts” that serve as placeholders for real components of the API. Perhaps the most well-known of these components is the API mock, a part with basic functionality that can be tested for a specific purpose. Method calls, web API interactions, and database interactions are all examples of parts that can be mocked.
Though some assume that mocking is already SOP for API design teams, that’s not always the case. Some are afraid of creating too many mock responses in the process of development, which makes it harder to sift through problems at the backend. Others hesitate that the mocks will become stale, redundant, and hard to work with in the future.
But when a team has an eagle-eyed approach to testing and can do so in a conducive environment, the mocking stage will be worth it. Here’s a list that supports the advantages of open API mocking and the key improvements it will bring to the development process.
It Enables Quick Feedback
Simply put, mocking can gather quick feedback on what parts will work and what parts won’t when they’re incorporated into the API. This phase of trial and error can help the API team catch and address bugs early on. In turn, this will prevent even bigger problems from happening in later stages of development, such as virtualization or even the API’s rollout.
It Allows the API Team to Do Controlled Work in a Controlled Environment
Mocking isn’t limited to objects or calls alone. In open environments, servers can also be mocked. The API team will have the dual advantage of garnering controlled responses in controlled environments. There’s less risk of meddling with the already established architecture of the API. Plus, the work will be quicker, more efficient, and more manageable on the API staff.
It Decreases Dependency on External Resources
The reality of API development is that there are limited sources to tinker with. Some external resources, like databases or web calls, may not be accessible due to security restrictions or maintenance concerns. Either that or the resource may not yet exist. But thanks to mocks, this lack of access won’t hamper the API team’s progress. Mock testers can recreate similar conditions to see what could reasonably work with the API.
It Increases the API Team’s Agility and Problem-Solving Capabilities
With mock objects, calls, and servers that are close enough to the real thing, the API team can push their thought process forward. Through the mocks, they can anticipate real-life responses before they happen on the actual API. The increased agility will make it easier for them to deal with advanced problems in the API’s coding and infrastructure. Enhanced abilities like these can only mean good news for the API’s launching.
It Can Be Part of Real-Time API Research, Development, and Marketing
Most of the time, products are marketed to their target audience only when they’re finished. But surprisingly, APIs can be marketed even in the middle of their research and development phase. Mocked behaviors are enough to impart high-value customers with a working understanding of the API. That will make it easier for the API developers to woo them and entice them to adopt the API as early as possible.
If you’re about to enter the mocking stage, don’t forget to take the blinders off. There is such a thing as being too results-driven in mocking. Beware of false-positive trends and the urge to create mocks where they might not be needed.
Wise testers will use the mocking stage to improve the API on a holistic level. That is the best possible outcome to arrive at before the API is released.