Synthetic vs. API Monitoring

Gaining insights on your applications’ health and usage will help you convert visitors into regular customers going forward. With so many ways to do this, it can be hard to keep track of them all. While API and synthetic monitoring may seem similar, they are very different. Knowing more about each will help you improve your visitors’ experience.

Synthetic Monitoring 

Synthetic monitoring uses simulations to imitate an application’s behavior instead of running it. It gets its name because requests to your site are simulated with software instead of being performed. The requests might be completely generated or consist of recorded requests from past clients. One benefit of this process is that you can easily test an application’s performance while validating your software – all without having to set up a real-world scenario with a living user. That way, you can find issues before they affect clients.

Programs like the Pingdom Synthetic Monitoring Tool let you see how sites respond to simulated data from users. For example, you can look at how your site works with many operating systems and web browsers. Setting up environments for each browser or operating system combination would take too much effort.

API Monitoring 

Application programming interface monitoring focuses on either third-party or internal API’s. There are three main categories included in this process:

  • Performance: does the interface respond in an acceptable time?
  • Data validation: is the information being sent or received over the API in the right format?
  • Uptime: does the interface respond to requests?

API’s are crucial for helping your site operate, so it’s vital to check them to ensure that they’re performing properly. Users don’t directly access them because API’s run in the background, so real-user observation of API’s wouldn’t make sense. 

What are the Differences?

There are certain similarities between the two. For instance, they both include examining your site using software instead of real users. Both processers are critical to verify that sites deliver a great user experience by performing as needed. They also give you insights into an app, like data validation and uptime. But those are the main similarities. Synthetic monitoring looks at how an app responds when people access it. On the other hand, API monitoring looks at how well the programming interface performs. That involves looking at the communication routes between your applications, instead of the app itself. 

It helps you maintain a quality user experience across multiple setups. But synthetic monitoring only lets you look at one site at a time. Any site can benefit from that process but looking at the API would only make sense if the app had a programming interface. While the reasons to use the two are similar, you get a different level of visibility from each. Each process offers information that you can’t get from the other one. The good news is that you don’t have to pick just one. Think of both types as complementary tools. By combining the two, your ability to test as many parts of the site as possible is maximized, both within the application and in its communication paths.