Postman As A Live Coding Environment In Presentations At APIStrat
07 Nov 2017
We just wrapped up the 8th edition of APIStrat in Portland, Oregon this last week. I’ll be working through my notes, and memory of the event in future posts, but thing that stood out for me was the presence of Postman at the event. No, I’m not talking about their booth, and army of evangelists and company reps on site–although this was the first time I’ve seen them out in such force. I’m talking about the usage of the API development environment by presenters, as a live coding environment in their talks, replacing the command line and browser for how you demonstrate the magic of APIs to your audience.
On the first day of the conference I attended two separate workshops where Postman was the anchor for the talk. As they worked their way through their slides they kept switching back to the Postman application to show some sort of real results, from an actual, or mocked API. It is the new live coding environment for API evangelist, architects, designers, developers, and security folks. It is the quickest way to go from API concept, to demonstrating API solutions in any presentation. What I also really like is that it transcends any single programming language. In the past, I’ve always hated when someone would bust out some .NET code to show an API call, or something very language or platform specific. Postman reflects a more API way of doing things, that is elevated above the dogma of any single programming language community.
I am beginning to use Postman and Restlet client in my API training and curriculum more. Directing my users to actually try something out in the API client before moving on to the next step. It is kind of becoming the new interactive API documentation, but something that is linkable from any story, training materials, or incorporated directly into a live talk. As an evangelist it is yet another reason to maintain OpenAPI definitions and Postman Collections of all your most common API use cases. So that you can find, and include all your relevant API calls directly into your storytelling. I’m going to start exploring the viability of doing this with non-developers, and folks who aren’t familiar with Postman yet. I have a feeling that within the echo chamber there is a sort of familiarity taking hold when it comes to Postman, but I want to make sure the environment isn’t a shock for newcomers, and is something that can help users go from zero to API response in 60 seconds or less.
It is interesting to watch the API space evolve, and what tools become common place like Postman has become. For a while the Apigee API Explorer was common place, but has quickly fallen into the background. Swagger UI has enjoyed dominance when it comes to interactive API documentation, but is something I see beginning to shift. I’m hoping that API clients and development environment like Postman, Restlet, PAW, and Insomnia continue to develop mindshare. These tools are all good for helping make API integration easier, but as I saw at APIStrat, they can also help us communicate with our readers, and audience about what is possible with APIs. Speaking to as wide of a group as possible, elevating above any single programming language, and just speaking API.