In general, a sandbox is an isolated environment used for building and testing software. An API Sandbox is an emulator that sits behind a set of test APIs to give external developers a self-test facility.

Using the sandbox, external developers can check that their code properly calls your APIs and that they do not cause problems further downstream, for example high volume or erroneous data.

API Sandbox delivers value to external developers, improves API acceptance, and saves you time and money.

Having an API Sandbox empowers external developers to develop in their own time and to play and investigate your APIs in a safe environment. You can give access to the sandbox without giving permission to use the real thing. The approach improves security and quality of applications. Having the opportunity to play gives external developers confidence and comfort improves API acceptance and saves you time and money.

The alternative is that you will have to assign a developer of your own to support each external developer, they need a great deal of support and cost you time and effort.

A Sandbox is an Isolated Runtime

Often virtualisation technology is used to provide virtual servers that are useful for testing specific new features, without the need to be concerned about compatibility problems which could be caused by other applications running in the background.

The sandbox will include data used to generate responses, and should contain sets of tests that are successful, that fail, and that test (random data).

The result is that developers can build, and test their code against versions of real APIs that are safe and predictable.

A sandbox environment must entirely isolate developers from each other, and any activity carried out must not affect the live application or software.

A Sandbox Saves Money

API sandboxes enable risk free, low-cost testing on an API. Properly designed, they separate developers and avoid the problems involved with resetting more traditional test environments.

  • Simultaneous testing and development.
  • Sandbox environments are straightforward to reset and reformat to enable them to be reused.
  • Mistakes and failures that occur in the testing process will have no impact on live applications or programs.
  • Accelerates development cycle and decreases time-to-market.

A Sandbox Saves Time

API sandboxes enable developer self-service and simplifies reset of the environment.

  • Simulate error scenarios with the API, such as delays in the API’s response time, error conditions or simulating a non-responsive API completely.
  • Simulated responses for APIs reflect the behaviour of a real system to simulate ‘real’ conditions, without interfering with live applications.
  • Improve collaboration within the team. Sandbox environments can be accessed by anyone with the correct permissions.
  • Many companies (PayPal, eBay, Responsiv, …) offer a sandbox development environment for their products, to enable developers to create additional functionality to suit specific needs.
  • The application developed in the sandbox can then be integrated into the live production environment. For example, are companies with API sandbox environments.

Improves Security

  • Cybersecurity research and analysts can use sandbox environments to test potentially malicious software. As sandboxes are isolated and have no physical connection to production resources, malicious software cannot access user data or sensitive information.
  • A cybersecurity sandbox provides a secure environment for opening suspicious files, running untrusted programs, or downloading content from an unsecured website without affecting the devices they are on.

How do sandbox environments work?

There are a few different versions of sandbox environments:

  • Cloud sandboxing: Some companies provide cloud-based sandbox software as a development/testing environment for their live environment. Using a cloud-based sandbox eliminates the need for localised servers and enables ease of testing on-demand in a virtual sandbox, separated from any of the network devices. For example, CloudShare.
  • Sandbox programs: There are popular standalone programs that provide a ready-made sandbox for particular operating systems. Once the program is activated, all write accesses to the hardware are redirected to a folder that the user pre-defines. In Addition, files saved in the sandbox environment can be migrated into the real system on command. Within these applications, the user has the ability to operate multiple sandboxes simultaneously. For example, Sandbox.
  • Sandbox in the operating system: Certain applications permit the user to use the sandbox directly in their program code, with the assistance of layers and levels. The sandbox is therefore part of the operating system, albeit self-contained. Similar to other sandboxing software, there are a number of parameters that are entered for the extent of the particular program, which enables targeted analysis. Windows 10 has inbuilt sandbox environment capabilities.
  • Virtual machines: Virtual machines (VMs) offer a wider range of applications than individual programs. A VM allows the user to run an operating system in an app window on the user’s local machine which acts like a full separate computer. By nature, VMs are virtualised environments, and are ideal for use as a sandbox for certain applications.
  • Plug-in sandbox: Java, a programming language supplies an example of a plug-in sandbox. In this case, the sandbox is employed by Java applets. Applets are computer programs that are executed in a client web browser. Java’s plugin sandbox environment implementation means that the program code loaded online can be run within a separate environment, this keeps the hard drive, working memory, and functions of the operating system defended.

 Conclusion and next steps

We have no doubt that a sandbox strategy can bring significant efficiencies to your organisation and look forward to our first conversations! Ask a Sandbox Question


Products and services relevant to this point of view include Responsiv Consulting, Responsiv Unity, Enterprise Integration, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), IBM Cloud Pak for Integration, IBM DataPower, IBM API Connect.

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    Ivanin Ivanov

    Ivanin Ivanov

    Ivanin is a Technical Consultant at Responsiv. He specialises in System Integration with IBM Integration Bus, IBM ACE, and IBM MQ, and is skilled in systems analysis, design and integration, API development, web development, and database design and development.
    Ivanin’s other interests include cybernetics, cloud technology, containerisation & orchestration and the DevOps culture. He continuously strives to expands his knowledge and keep up with the strides of modern technology.