API management is the process of overseeing application programming interfaces (APIs) in a secure, scalable environment. The goal of API management is to allow organizations that either publish or utilize an API to monitor the interface’s lifecycle and ensure the needs of developers and applications using the API are being met.
API management needs may differ from organization to organization, but API management itself encompasses some basic functions, including security, monitoring and version control.
API management has become increasingly important due to business’s growing dependency on APIs, a significant rise in the number of APIs they depend on and the administrative complexities APIs introduce. The requirements and process of building and managing APIs is different than most other applications. In order to be utilized properly, APIs require strong documentation, increased levels of security, comprehensive testing, routine versioning and high reliability. Because these requirements often go beyond the scope of the software-based projects organizations typically run, the use of API management software has become popular.
API management software and tooling
API management software is built with the intention of making API design, deployment and maintenance easier and more efficient. Although each individual API management tool has its own unique set of features, most of them include essential features like documentation tools, security, sandbox environments, high availability and backward compatibility.
API management software tools typically provide the following functions:
- Automate and control connections between an API and the applications that use it.
- Ensure consistency between multiple API implementations and versions.
- Monitor traffic from individual apps.
- Provide memory management and caching mechanisms to improve application performance.
- Protect the API from misuse by wrapping it in security procedures and policies.
API management software can be built in-house or purchased as a service through a third-party provider. The open API movement, spearheaded by big-name companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter, led to significantly reduced API dependency upon conventional service-oriented architecture (SOA) in favor of more lightweight JSON and REST services. Some API management tools are capable of converting existing SOAP, JMS or MQ interfaces into RESTful APIs or JSON content.
Swagger vs RAML vs API Blueprint vs LoopBack
|Description||It defines a standard, language-agnostic interface to REST APIs which allows both humans and computers to discover and understand the capabilities of the service without access to source code, documentation, or through network traffic inspection via Open API Specification(OAS)||RESTful API Modeling Language (RAML) is a YAML based language which makes it easy to manage the whole API lifecycle from design to sharing. It’s concise – you only write what you need to define – and reusable. It is machine readable API design that is actually human friendly.||A powerful high-level API description language for web APIs. Its syntax is concise yet expressive. With API Blueprint you can quickly design and prototype APIs to be created or document and test already deployed mission-critical APIs.
|It is an open source Node.js API framework from StrongLoop. It is built on top of Express optimized for mobile, web, and other devices.
|Pros||Supports API first design
Can execute api calls from the documentation
Free to use
Mature, clean spec
Easy to implement in .Net
Vibrant and active community
|Now Supports OAS contracts
API first design
Follows API Specification
Design Patterns & Code Reuse
Automatic Generation of Mule flow
|Simple, easy to use, more artistic site|
|Cons||Requires multiple specifications for some tools, including dev and QA
Doesn’t allow for code reuse, includes, or extensions
Lacks strong developer tools
Requires schemas for all responses
No Hypermedia support.
|Lacks strong documentation and tutorials outside of specification
Limited code reuse/extensions
Multiple specifications required for several tools, including dev and QA
Poor tooling support for newer versions
|NodeJS specific Only|