I broke this area of my research into a separate stops a couple years back, as I saw several new types of service providers emerging to provide a new type of web-based API client. These new tools allowed you to consume, collaborate, and put APIs to use without writing any code. I knew that this shift was going to be significant, even though it hasn’t played out as I expected, with most of the providers disappearing, or being acquired, and leaving just a handful of solutions that we see today.
These new web API clients allow for authentication, and the ability to quickly copy and paste API urls, or the importing of API definitions to begin making requests, and seeing responses for targeted aPIs. These clients were born out of earlier API explorers and interactive API documentation, but have matured into standalone services that are doing interesting things to how we consume APIs. Here are the three web API clients I recommend you consider as part of your API life cycle.
- Postman - A desktop and web client for working with and collaborating in a team environment around APIs.
- PAW - Paw is a full-featured HTTP client that lets you test and describe the APIs you build or consume. It has a beautiful native macOS interface to compose requests, inspect server responses, generate client code and export API definitions. -RESTFddle - An easy-to-use platform to work with APIs. It simplifies everything from API exposure to API consumption. RESTFiddle is an Enterprise-grade API Management Platform for teams. It helps you to design, develop, test and release APIs.
Using web API clients allows for APIs to be easily defined, mocked, collaborated around, and leveraged as part of an API definition driven life cycle. The approach to integration saves significant cycles by allowing APIs to be designed, developed, and integrated with before any code gets written. Plus, the team and collaboration features that many of them posses can significantly benefit the process of not just consuming APIs, but also developing them. Making API clients an essential part of any development team, no matter what you are building.
Using API clients, bundled with an API definition-driven approach, and a healthy API mocking setup, can save you significant time and money when it comes to crafting the right API. What used to take years of development to iterate around, can take days or weeks, allowing you to define, design, mock, consume, collaborate, communicate, and iterate until exactly the right API is delivered. This approach to API development is changing how we deliver APIs, making operations much more flexible, agile, and fast moving, over the historically rigid, brittle, and slow moving approach to delivering API resources.