API Workspace and Environment Management
15 Sep 2019
I have hundreds of collections within my Postman, but I’ve never done much collaboration with others in there until now. I find myself getting more organized with the Postman collections for API Evangelist, because I’m doing more coordination and sharing with the collections I maintain, but I’m also preparing to ramp up as Chief Evangelist for Postman. The process has highlighted for me the importance of API workspaces and environments along with our API definitions. These are two killer features of Postman which I think are concepts that should be ubiquitous across the API sector, and of course is a conversation that Postman will continue to play an increasingly important role. Establishing workspaces for different projects, and being more thought fun of how I craft the environments along with the Postman collections I’m defining for a variety of APIs has once again shifted how I see the API landscape.
Workspaces mean the logical grouping, organization, access, and collaboration of API definitions. You shouldn’t just have a big blob of API definitions you use for a variety of reasons. You should be managing API definitions that are maintained and shared across a variety of workspaces, giving access to relevant stakeholders. My personal workspace in Postman is littered with hundreds of collections because it has only been me in there. In this reality I tend to be my own worst enemy and not have any coherent organization of collections in mind, just relying on the quick search to pull up what I need. However, I’m beginning to work with my wife and step-son on a variety of API definitions to help him get in on the “family business”, and now I”m needing to be more organized with my approach.
I can see small, medium, and large organizations needing someone dedicated to helping manage API workspaces, and the environments in use across teams, for both internal and external APIs. Thinking more critically around which APIs teams need access to while also ensuring they are well organized into logical workspaces, and making sure the management of environment, variables, secrets, and other elements are all more master planned. I envision API workspace, environment, and collection management something that will eventually dovetail and become a common aspect of managing human resources across the enterprise and small businesses. Logically defining how teams work together, and what API resources they have access to, including assistance in managing tokens and other secrets in a more secure, audible, and observable manner. Getting our act together when it comes to what APIs we use, and how we put them to work across teams.
API workspace and environment management is something that API consultants should add to their toolbox. It may take a number of years for the opportunity to fully mature, but I know of many companies who are in desperate need of assistance in this area. When you are down in the weeds of your operations you don’t always have the time and energy to see things at this level, and in my mind it represents an amazing opportunity for someone to come in from the outside and bring a little coherence to how APIs are published, managed, and consumed. Something that would go along way towards helping teams be more efficient in how they put APIs to work across desktop, web, mobile, device, and network applications, but also doing so in a much more secure, observable, and auditable way—helping organizations and their teams realize the benefits of APIs.
I am radically shifting how I manage my API definitions based upon me joining Postman. The situation has opened my eyes to the benefits their workspace, environment, and collection management tooling brings to the table. Having a Postman Collection that works has always been the holy grail of profiling APIs as part of my API Evangelist research, but now I see that it is also the missing link for me when it comes to bringing coherence and discoverability to my growing API catalog. Allowing me to better organize my collections, and begin establishing order and process to how I create, maintain, put to work, and share the valuable API resources I am putting to work across my research and storytelling. Providing me with a flexible and organized way of defining and collaborating around APIs within a variety of bounded context, while also safely, sensibly, and securely managing the environments I depend on for access APIs isn’t a nice to have anymore—it is essential.