10/25/2016 Engineering Cody Reichert

At Assertible, we automatically run tests against our APIs after every deployment to reduce bugs, validate functionality, and save developer time.

Having a reliable process in place for testing and validating API deployments provides a huge amount of confidence when deploying new changes into production. Running automated test-suites immediately after a deployment is the best way to augment your continuous integration pipeline to be certain that your application is ready for users. It also saves developers time by decreasing the need for manual testing.

At Assertible, we have integrated continuous web service testing as a first-class step in our continuous integration & delivery pipeline.

Assertible GitHub Status Check

In this post I'll discuss our continuous integration pipeline and how we validate releases by testing our web services in several stages before it's shipped to production.

How we continuously test our web services

At Assertible, our continuous integration, delivery, and testing setup is simple:

Running API tests automatically after every deployment quickly validates and provides feedback about the release.

For example, when a pull request is opened, code is built and deployed to a staging environment. API tests are automatically run against the new app on the staging environment.

If the Assertible tests do not pass when run against the new deployment, the GitHub status check on the pull request will fail and tell us the code shouldn't be merged.

Assertible GitHub status check failing

One of the most important aspects of automated QA tests is to keep it simple. Not only can too many end-to-end tests become flaky, they take a long time to run and can be difficult to debug. For this reason, we have an abundance of smaller integration tests which validate a unique aspect of our API or web service.

We've discussed techniques for improving automated QA pipelines in detail in our techniques to reduce api testing errors and improve your QA process.

More on the Assertible GitHub integration

By using Github we're able to take advantage of the Assertible GitHub deployment integration and deployment events.

After the code is built and in the process of being deployed to a staging server, Assertible receives deployment status events from GitHub via webhooks. When a deployment is successful, Assertible runs all tests for that API and updates the status check on a pull request.

The [assertible/deployments](https://github.com/assertible/deployments) repo has instructions on setting up GitHub deployments as a part of your CI with a simple script.

If you are not using GitHub, it's probably easiest to use the [deployments API](/docs/guide/deployments)

Another neat part of using GitHub status checks with Assertible is that we can see the result of our API tests on the master branch. Any commit made to the master branch means a deployment to production. By looking in the commit history we can see that the API tests were all successful.

Assertible GitHub commit status check

API testing with Assertible

Our API test cases live in Assertible. Tests are configured to:

  • validate all API endpoints
  • test core functionality
  • make assertions on response data integrity like link checking, JSON Schema validation, and JSON path data

The image below demonstrates some of the tests that are run when a new version of the API is deployed.

Assertible Tests by Endpoint

Before we had a robust continuous testing pipeline in place, tests had to be triggered manually or executed directly from random scripts in our continuous integration pipeline.

Both approaches are time-consuming and error prone. Of course, in-house software can be written to make testing easier and that's what many teams do. However, in-house solutions require developer time, organization, and in many cases a team large enough to justify a dedicated QA developer -- we believe there is a better way to test web services.

Because tests are executed as a first-class step in our continuous integration pipeline, alerts are propogated directly to the source of the code changes, pull requests. If a test fails, the status check on GitHub will have a link directly back to the failing test result to easily see why:

Assertible failing test

Uh oh! It looks like we broke some authentication logic in the /tests handler. This is where continuous testing saves our skin and our time (and in some cases our job!).

This is why we test every. single. deployment automatically. When all tests are passing, we can happily merge knowing that the release has been validated and tested. Further, production deployments will be tested as well.

With a solid continuous testing automation workflow in place, manually testing endpoints is unnecessary. Furthermore, with opportunistic automation (on deployments and scheduled intervals), we've reduced the need to setup and maintain in-house tests scripts.

Start testing your web services now!
Assertible is free to use. Contact us if you have any questions or feedback!

Continue the discussion

I always enjoy hearing how other teams test and validate API deployments. Tweet at me (@CodyReichert) or us (@AssertibleApp) and let's see what you're working with!

Assuredly yours,

Cody Reichert


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