How to Measure & Improve API Performance

APIs have become increasingly important to the success of businesses. Many technology products, applications, and systems depend on them to perform their duties. And the number of API requests continues to grow. As a result, poor API performance can slow processes down and impact the user experience — which results in a loss of revenue. 

By measuring your API performance, you can identify areas where it can be improved and ensure that it is meeting the needs of your business or users.

Where APIs Generally Lack In Performance

The most critical aspect of an API is speed — for a few reasons:

  • First, a slow API can cause delays for users. When users have to wait for an API to respond, they may become frustrated and abandon the application. 
  • Second, a slow API can increase costs for developers. If developers have to wait for APIs to respond, they may have to spend more time and resources building and testing their applications. 
  • Third, a slow API can damage the reputation of the company that hosts it. If users have a bad experience with an API, they may be less likely to use the company’s products or services in the future.

It’s also important that an API is reliable and efficient. Any downtime can result in the same negative outcomes as a slow API. While it’s fairly straightforward to measure the speed and reliability of an API, measuring its efficiency is a little more complicated. An efficient API is going to have functionality that supports easy integration and scalability. Here are some steps to get a full understanding of your API’s performance when it comes to speed, reliability, and efficiency. 

How to Measure API Performance

Sites and applications are constantly updated to keep up with new technologies and enhance the user experience. Because applications are constantly evolving, APIs need to be closely monitored and frequently improved to keep up with changes. 

If you’ve been using a third-party API or your own in-house API for the past year or more and haven’t done an evaluation of it, now is the time. Realistically, you should complete these steps every few months to see if your current API program is performing well: 

1. Assess Metrics

Begin by assessing the performance of your API across a variety of metrics. Choose the metrics that are most relevant to your specific needs. You can start with these: 

  • CPU Usage
  • Memory Usage
  • Uptime
  • Rate Limits
  • Latency
  • Errors Per Minute or Error Rate
  • Request Per Minute (RPM)

Excessive CPU usage, memory usage, downtime, and errors can mean an issue with the server, system health, or code. 

2. Gather User Feedback

Talk to your users or internal stakeholders who leverage the API and its output. Are they experiencing issues or having trouble using it? Are there gaps in the data? User complaints or inaccuracies in the data may indicate the API is outdated. On the other hand, having to format or modify its output signals an issue with the functionality or efficiency of your API. 

3. Run Performance Testing

Performance testing involves simulating a large number of users accessing your API and measuring how long it takes to respond. This method for measuring API performance is helpful if you want to anticipate potential issues with your API — particularly as API request volume grows and your application needs to scale. 

Keeping tabs on the metrics, user feedback, and performance of your API will make it easier to notice any consistent, significant issues that signal a performance issue. But if you find there is an issue, there are several ways to help improve performance. 

Evaluating Your Tech Stack – API Edition

Download our comprehensive guide on the pros and cons of building your own API or using a third-party provider.

How to Improve API Performance

There are many ways to improve API performance, and some will depend on your specific application. But here are a few tips:

  • Use a caching mechanism: Caching saves time by storing frequently accessed data in a temporary location so that it doesn’t have to be retrieved from the database each time.
  • Optimize your code: Make sure your code is well-written and efficient. This can help your API to respond more quickly to requests.
  • Use a load balancer: A load balancer distributes requests across multiple servers, which can help to improve performance if you have a lot of users.
  • Use a content delivery network (CDN): A CDN is a network of servers that are located around the world. When a user requests a resource from your API, the CDN will deliver the resource from the server that is closest to the user. This can help to improve performance if your users are located in different parts of the world.
  • Use a monitoring tool: A monitoring tool can help you to track the performance of your API and identify any areas where it can be improved.
  • Test your API regularly: Testing your API regularly can help you to identify any performance issues before they affect your users.

By following these tips, you can improve the performance of your API and ensure that it meets the needs of your users. However, if you find the task of maintaining your own API too demanding or your current solution isn’t cutting it, we can help. 

We understand how it feels to be burdened by the expensive, time-consuming process of building your own API – or to be left with a public API that’s underperforming when it comes to your needs. We recognize this is a challenging process for businesses to undertake. That’s why we continue to expand and enhance our collection of reliable, robust, real-time APIs.  

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