13 Essential Resources for Understanding and Mastering API First

Pascal Heus
5 min readJan 25, 2023

Application Program Interfaces, or APIs, are the modern mechanisms enabling browsers, computer applications, and servers to talk to each other. Whether you know it or not, as a users, you make thousands of APIs calls every day.

Designing robust and enterprise grade APIs requires the right set of skills, tools, techniques, and strategies, and the API-First model has become an IT industry best practice for implementers. Below a collection of articles from Postman that will guide you through the world of API First.

1. What is API First?

Start here if you are new to API-First. This guide introduces the core concepts, the API lifecycle, and briefly describe how it works. It answers basic questions such as why API-first and the value of API-first for businesses. It will help you assess your organization API-First readiness, outlines a 5-step process to become API-First, and highlight how to navigate the paths to API-first.

2. API Design

This article focuses on the design aspects of APIs and examines how it supports the API-first development model. It discusses the 4 key stages of API design - requirements, contract and specifications, mocking / testing, and documentation — and the role of mocking.

3. API Monitoring

API monitoring leverage API telemetry data to ensure that API requests are handled as expected. This article dives into why monitoring is crucial in an API-first world, and what are the primary use cases and metrics.

4. API Governance

APIs are not just about technology. Governance plays a critical role in fostering effective collaboration, promote API consistency, and enable organizations to get the most value out of their API portfolio. This article will introduce you to API Governance and its role in an API-first world. It outlines the relationship between API governance, API security, and API management, and enumerates the steps should leaders take to create and implement an effective API governance strategy and governance best practices.

5. API Client

Talking or communicating with APIs requires a tool, or client, for exploration, testing, and debugging. This article defines what is a client, outlines how clients support the API-first strategy, and discusses some of the primary use cases. It further illustrates why choose Postman as a client, used by 89% of the respondents of the 2022 State of the API survey.

6. API Lifecycle

APIs are dynamic systems in constant evolution. This article focuses on the producer lifecycle, and how it supports the API-first approach. It introduces the 8 fundamental stages — defines, design, develop, test, secure, deploy, observe, and distribute — and enumerates best practices surrounding API lifecycle management.

7. API Collaboration

Producing and consuming APIs is a collaborative efforts involving developers, testers, architects, and other stakeholders. This article discusses why is API collaboration an important part of the API-first strategy and how do teams collaborate throughout the API lifecycle. It then goes on to what are Postman workspaces, and how do they support API collaboration, and other API collaboration features.

8. API Security

Preventing and mitigating attacks that originate at the API level is a crucial aspect of any organization’s overall security strategy. This article describes what is “shift-left” and why API-first companies are adopting this strategy. It outlines the the most common API security vulnerabilities for traditional REST based OpenAPI APIs, as well as other specifications such as SOAP, gRPC, GraphQL, and Websockets.

9. API Documentation

Providing a set of human-readable instructions for using and integrating APIs is fundamental. This article discusses why API documentation is critical in an API-first world, what it should include, and some best practices for creating API documentation.

10. API Catalog

Making APIs privately or publicly discoverable by users and applications is naturally essential. This article describes what are API catalogs and why they are important in an API-first world. It explores the the difference between private and public API catalogs, and how private catalog can address reduce API sprawl (the over-proliferation of microservices).

11. API Testing

Making sure APIs are working as expected is critical, and testing early enables teams to catch and remediate issues as soon as they are introduced. This article explains why is API testing is important in an API-first world and the relationship with monitoring. It outlines the different types of API testing and common best practices.

12. API Test Automation

Programmatically executing API tests enables maintaining fast-paced development cycles while continuously and systematically verifying that APIs are working as expected. This article describes the role of API test automation in today’s software landscape and how API test automation help teams shift left. It enumerates some of the benefits and best practices surrounding API test automation.

13. API Observability

Monitoringr APIs’ performance, troubleshoot issues, understand usage patterns, and identify opportunities for optimization requires the right telemetry data and your APIs need yto be instrumented accordingly. This article describes the role of observability n an API-first world and the relationship with monitoring. It defines the four pillars of observability amd common use cases.

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Pascal Heus

Data Lead at Postman Open Technologies. Information Technologist / Data Engineer / Metadata Expert. Interests in Gamification, Quantum Physics, Astrophysics.