3 Ways to Superpower Your API Debugging

In programming, debugging is the process of identifying and fixing an error in the code. For API consumers and producers, most of the effort is spent on locating the root cause of the issue based on what can be observed.

In an ideal scenario, there is rigorous testing and monitoring in place to alert you when something goes wrong. But even if you don’t have this level of observability, let’s learn about three ways to increase visibility when debugging APIs.

1. API client

Postman is most commonly used as an API client to explore APIs. Postman allows you to manipulate inputs and inspect the outputs to better understand the relationship between the two. Here are some ways that you can debug more easily using Postman as an API client.

  • Update parameters, headers, and bodies
  • See HTTP status codes and error messages
  • Parse responses
  • Inspect variables
  • Review test results
  • Replay calls in the History

2. Console

The Postman console provides visibility into network calls and logs. It is a simple, yet powerful, way to spot bugs. Here are some ways to debug more efficiently using the Postman console.

  • View network calls and TLS encryption
  • Log statements, errors, and warnings
  • Inspect variables
  • Validate execution order of API calls
  • Verify conditional breakpoints set in scripts

3. Mock servers

Mock servers allow you to simulate API behavior using Postman servers. Mocks are frequently used in debugging to simplify a problem or isolate a system under test. Here is how you can debug APIs using Postman mock servers.

  • Simulate edge cases that may be difficult or costly to run in production (e.g., 429 Too Many Requests)
  • Stub out dependencies on third-party services or internal microservices
  • Establish a starting point for a scenario or inject a call within a scenario

Learn more advanced techniques for API Debugging

In a recent Postman Space Camp session, we covered these three ways to supercharge your API debugging. Additionally, we reviewed debugging tools and tactics when running a sequence of API calls in the collection runner, monitors and webhooks, or Newman, and covered these learning objectives.

  • Explore methods for understanding API behavior, including updating user inputs to change the API response
  • Debug and troubleshoot unexpected behavior
  • Establish visibility for monitors, webhooks, and CLI
  • Isolate dependencies with mock servers
  • Set up notifications and alerts
  • Explain recommended strategies for debugging

If you want to learn more, check out the recording of our “Advanced API Debugging” Space Camp session, and follow along with examples of common API issues.

If you want to stay in the loop with Postman Space Camp, register for upcoming sessions or sign up to get notified about upcoming sessions. Let us know in the comments below if you have a favorite method for debugging APIs.


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