To ensure quality performance throughout a digital ecosystem, we can’t understate the need for constant API monitoring. Tuning into cues like uptime, speed, latency, endpoint usage frequency, and more can provide key performance indicators to respond to issues and improve the platform over time.
API monitoring is not only helpful for API providers, but is just as crucial for those embedding multiple third party APIs into a digital stack. In an effort to avoid reinventing the wheel, you may be best off using tools developed by others to accomplish these needs.
There are many API monitoring solutions out there, ranging from niche subscription services, to open source GitHub repos, and to monitoring features within API management environments. Then, there are the more holistic solutions that monitor an entire IT platform. In this article we’ve featured over 10 API monitoring tools to help with your comparison shopping.
What Do We Mean By API Monitoring?
First, what do we mean by API monitoring? While API testing is often more concerned with development and pre-deployment, monitoring occurs more frequently throughout the API lifecycle.
These are niche tools that you can set up to continuously monitor API endpoints for uptime, availability, response time, performance, and other variables. A reporting dashboard is usually provided to gauge performance with nice visualizations. Many of these environments are code-less and provide automatic alerting when an API fails (or when another threshold is reached).
10+ API Monitoring Solutions
I’ve tried to curate a list of plug-and-play API monitoring solutions built for the needs of web API providers. These monitor HTTP endpoints with specific assertions in mind, and output actionable data in a clean UI. Most also have a means of automated monitoring to kickstart the error discovery and resolution process. Enjoy!
API Fortress is a testing platform that offers monitoring features. To get started, you can simply build from an API specification (Swagger / Open API / RAML). API providers can integrate with API Fortress to monitor uptime and functional tests, or insert it into a continuous integration schematic with automated testing. Available both in cloud and on-premise, API Fortress offers a nicely-designed GUI and visualizations for reporting purposes. With APIs and webhooks, API Fortress’ extensibility is great; there are intricate how-to guides for integrating with other environments, like Jenkins, or Slack.
AlertSite by SmartBear
AlertSite is one product in a catalogue of services offered by SmartBear. It is a synthetic monitoring tool that monitors web, mobile, and SaaS applications and underlying APIs. It can watch API endpoints and transactions, and other web interactions, to return things like performance metrics, availability, and more. With a unique tile design, the interface is malleable, allowing users to highlight their most critical apps.
Have you heard the term “composable” to describe modern enterprises? It’s because they’re made of many small parts. These API connections to 3rd party resources and functionality crumble over time if not closely monitored.
Runscope helps monitor these API connections in addition to internal APIs, running continuously checks for uptime monitoring, API performance monitoring, and data validation. Runscope API tests run groups of HTTP requests with given assertions to either pass or fail.
Tests can be scheduled throughout a build cycle, and notifications sent through popular messaging apps. All Runscope test data is also API-accessible.
APImetrics offers acute performance monitoring to supply fine-grained details into API uptime, functionality, latency, and performance. APImetrics uses “active monitoring,” as opposed to passive monitoring. This is because in addition to traffic performance, APImetrics tracks content statuses, and monitors how cloud services behave that consume APIs. They initiate real API calls to test functionality. This data produces a credit score of sorts, which can be used to substantiate SLAs. They offer free setup for your first API.
API Science is designed to monitor uptime levels to ensure happy API consumers. They test using geographically displaced servers to help locate outages or errors, and take request parameters like API keys or OAuth tokens to test securely. API Science also can monitor third party API integrations that make up a company’s own stack.
API Science prides itself on its tech too. Built for REST API landscape, they brandish a familiarity with modern protocols and even offer a REST API for interacting with API Science data. These combined with Slack alerts, reporting, and other features make API Science a contender.
Many are familiar with Postman Collections. Setting up an automated monitoring scheme for collections could be an easy way for API consumers to validate performance in a collaborative format. Data is stored in Postman environments, and alerts can be managed through integrations. Basic users get up to 1,000 free calls per month.
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Rigor provides a platform for monitoring API availability and uptime. They can automatically test functional use cases, and initiate alerts when certain performance thresholds are reached. Rigor also manages APItester.com, which is in Beta at time of writing.
Something unique is Rigor’s emphasis on testing for various network types: Mobile LTE, DSL, Cable, Mobile Edge, etc. Rigor’s “Performance-as-a-Service” platform may appeal to those who seek data not only on API performance, but on user experience for the whole digital ecosystem.
Similarly, Uptrends is by no means an API-only monitoring platform; they provide services for websites, applications, servers, and more. A peak into their API-specific monitoring tool shows that it highlights performance, function, and uptime. You can set HTTP requests to perform all CRUD maneuvers, and add distinct assertions to test complex behaviors. They provide the ability to continuously test, and provide an automatic alerting system.
Assertible is designed to to help QA testing for web services. They provide “powerful and robust HTTP assertions” that go beyond a the typical pass or fail result. It includes helpful integrations, such as with Github to initiate testing upon new code pushes, or with Slack for automatic alerting. The tool is code-less, GUI-driven, and has the ability to initiate monitoring across deployments and different environments.
RapidSpike offers network-level online monitoring. Their API monitoring system can be used to track uptime and response values for endpoints, and can also be used to send JSON or XML request bodies to validate functional returns. They also have a unique alerting system that escalates internal awareness as unanswered problems prolong.
Australian-based Agilityworks provides a platform for continuous API testing. In addition to verifying API behavior, their reporting provides insights into important metrics. Agilityworks appears to be more designed to aid continuous deployment than as a constant heart rate monitor.
Checkly is another service that performs full API monitoring, including configurable requests, assertions, and importers for cURL and Swagger. They also provide site transaction monitoring.
Performance monitoring for APIs
Bearer is an API monitoring tool that can be directly embedded into applications, to provide automated tailored monitoring and alerting. Bearer focuses on monitoring an application’s external API dependencies; its feature-switching capabilities mean new third-party API updates or limits won’t kill functionality. It’s similar to Application Performance Management but for APIs. Bearer is available for Node.js & Ruby.
Other Options for the Enterprise
The plug-and-play solutions are great for many circumstances, but larger enterprises may prefer more holistic IT management monitoring and alert systems. For example, solutions offered by PagerDuty, Site24x7, Catchpoint, and many others provide a means to track API endpoints in addition to websites, web services, and servers. Capterra has done our work in comparing 10 of those here.
In a post on the Runscope blog, Twain Taylor acknowledges that the modern software monitoring toolkit is extremely multi-faced. Not only must QA practitioners consider monitoring their APIs, but infrastructure, application performance analysis, log analysis, container specific metrics, and more must be tracked and analyzed.
“The only way to operate in a world of distributed apps, teams, infrastructure, and cloud tooling is to monitor the entire stack end-to-end.”
Other organizations may prefer a more DIY approach to API monitoring; using open-source tooling and greenfield development could reduce overhead. One such developer has outlined how to build real-time API monitoring using Go and Pusher.
Final Thoughts on API Monitoring
Monitoring is just part of the many aspects that make up quality API practice. Instilling an API monitoring strategy can help avoid downtime and ensure teams respond well to issues. In this article, we reviewed the high-level functionality, presentation, and overall developer experience for a number of tools that can continually track your API’s health.
This is our comparative analysis of the top tools for API monitoring, but we may have left out some. What do you use in your stack? We’d love to see your comments below. Alternatively, if you are a tooling provider and would like to remove or correct anything above please reach out!