Writing great API applications is an awesome skill, but the problem is that 90% of the backend developer's work remains invisible for the rest of the world. If you'd like to shine in the eyes of your team, clients, and partners, there are other skills than a perfect code or test coverage that you need to master.
Here is one of such things that not only help you increase your productivity and API testing as crazy but puts your whole team on the next level of communication and cooperation!
This thing is a Postman application.
What is the Postman App?
Postman is a great app providing complex tools for helping to design, document, monitor, and test API requests in your applications.»
The big advantage over the classical automatic tests is that Postman is a bridge between you as a developer and your clients or frontend developers.
It allows you to easily create collections of requests, projects, share your work with other members of the team and even automatically generate documentation based on what you defined in the app! You can check out the demo of the generated documentation for a project we wrote in the Rails API class.
Sample API documentation automatically generated by Postman
Why are we talking about Postman?
Nowadays, when you design and implement your API, you are not restricted to your own work. You can give your whole team a huge productivity boost if you use the right tools and best design techniques along the way.
In my Rails API course, I created a complete project using test-driven development, but I’m aware that not everyone is practicing TDD and not always it’s a desirable approach for your business needs.
Automatic tests are good for CI tools when we have automatic deployments. Then they are playing the role of a guard to not push something broken to the production environment.
For front-end developers, however, the automatic tests are not really important, nor for your external partners and clients. They only need to have clear documentation that is easy to navigate, read, and contains detailed information about acceptable requests and expected responses.
This is where Postman shines. A tool that allows you to automate, improve and speed up communication between creators of your API and its consumers is extremely precious for all kind of web projects.
To see how it works, just download the app and install on your computer. It automatically adjusts the version of the installer to your system so it should be super easy for you to follow.
The most important Postman features for API developers
This application has so many features already implemented - with monitoring and mocked servers - that it would take ages to cover all of them. In my Rails API video course, however, I covered a few features that are most useful for me and my teams so I strongly encourage you to check it out. At the same time, however, I strongly encourage you to dig deeper into documentation and learn more about it.
Here are those Postman features that I use most often:
- Automatic API documentation generation
- Interactive requests, shared request collections
- Real-time collaboration
- Dynamic environments and environment variables
- Pre/Post-request scripts
This is only a little piece of possibilities that Postman app allows, but it already makes my work so much easier, that I recommend Postman for anyone working with API at the level going beyond the sandbox.
Please let me know in the comments if you use Postman or an alternative tool and what other features you find useful :)
1. Chad Peltola for an amazing Cover Photo