POST/CON 2018

POST/CON 2018

Back in the spring of 2016 I did my very first talk for STPCon. It was about testing REST services and I mentioned Postman as a good tool for exploring services; saying in passing, “I could probably do a whole talk just on Postman”. Since then I have done multiple talks and workshops on the Postman tool, so when I saw that Postman the company was doing its first ever conference in essentially my backyard, I had to throw my hat in the ring as a speaker.

I was pretty excited about this conference both as a chance to meet the Postman team and also because it would be my first time stepping out of the test conference bubble and meeting with a whole different group of people. In that regard, POST/CON 2018 definitely lived up to my expectations. I had a great time talking with people from all sorts of different roles, not just testing. Below is a brief overview of the program with some highlights:

Welcome Keynote
Abhinav AsthanaCEO & Co-Founder at Postman
Interesting overview of the company history and the vision of Postman as an all-inclusive API development environment. Abhinav also announced support for GraphQL and OpenAPI standards in future versions. Presumably this will mean better support for Swagger, which I’m really looking forward to.

What Postman Did for a CEO Who Can’t Code
Craig BalkinCo-Founder of Cloudwire
This was a short talk on how Postman enables Craig to understand his company’s APIs and explain their product to potential clients. In his view, Postman acts as a bridge between the API developers and the people who will actually be using the API.

API Development Lifecycle
Jonathan StoikovitchAPI Evangelist with MuleSoft
Adrita BhorDirector of Product Management for APIs at PayPal
Jeff GibsonData Engineering Manager at Atlassian
Gareth JonesAPI Architect for Education at Microsoft
This panel was a good overview on how large companies handle the development of their public APIs. No surprise that it involves lots of communication between many different groups. I was a little disappointed that the test processes they use weren’t called out more specifically – that is something I would be very interested in knowing more about.

Why Hire a Developer When You Can Hire a Barista and Teach Them to Code?
Mike McNeilFounder & CEO of Sails.js
Great talk on the value of hiring beginners and training them on the job. Mike made the excellent point that having to teach the tech to developers-in-training helps senior developers keep APIs simple and easy to understand. More companies should be doing this!

Generating Perfect API Code with quicktype.io
Mark ProbstCo-Creator of quicktype.io
Quick demo of a tool which can turn a Postman collection or other JSON representations of an API into actual code in multiple languages. Looks like an interesting tool, especially for teams in the initial design phase or who are doing a refactor.

Postman & API Testing (slides)
Amber RaceSenior SDET at Big Fish Games
I was a little concerned that my talk wouldn’t quite be a fit for the POST/CON crowd, but it turned out there were lots of testers in the audience who were interested in the topic. So that was nice!

How REST APIs are Eating Infrastructure (slides)
Ashley RoachPrincipal Engineer at Cisco
Was recovering from my own talk, so did not really get to listen to this lightning talk. Basic thrust was that APIs are the key bit of infrastructure, as important as the app or website itself.

LUNCH BREAK
Lots of interesting conversation with other attendees. It is always eye-opening to learn about the companies where people are working. It’s easy to get the idea that everyone is either working for large tech companies or for start-ups; but it turns out banks and insurance companies employ a lot of software developers and testers.

The Future of Modern Software
Ram GuptaChairman at Aryaka Networks & Managing Director at Nexus Ventures
The most interesting part of this talk was an analogy between how cells in the human body work with how services communicate via APIs. Of course, our cells are the product of millions of years of evolution – our code-based APIs have a long way to go to reach that level of stability.

GraphQL and Live Queries
Rodrigo MúnozSoftware Engineer at Facebook
Nice intro to GraphQL and Live Queries, with an overview of different polling and not-polling techniques. I actually wish this talk had been a little longer – there was a lot to cover.

Moving Towards a Modern API Lifecycle
Kin LaneThe API Evangelist
Really exhaustive listing of factors that may need to be considered when developing, testing, and releasing apis. Kin’s full 90 (!) point check list is here: https://apievangelist.com/#api-lifecycle

(At this point there was a break for bubble tea, which might be the most San Francisco thing ever.)

Making Your API Delightful & Memorable (slides)
Bear DouglasDeveloper Relations Lead at Slack
I really enjoyed this talk about building a good relationship with the developers who actually use your API. Bear covered many important aspects of making APIs that developers will delight in utilizing. She also gave a nice shout out to Customer Service, which is such a key group in any organization.

A Proof of Concept for Enterprise Data Migration
Brad HarrisTechnical Support Engineer at Classy.org 
Interesting experience report on how Classy.org used Postman to do a full data migration. Honestly, I would not have considered using Postman for a job like this, but the Classy team made it work using the Collection Runner and the Test tab. Sometimes the tool that works best is the one that you will actually use.

APIs & Startups
Yonas BeshawredCEO of StackShare
Tim ZaitsevDirector of Engineering at The League
Ankit SobtiCTO & Co-Founder of Postman
Mike McNeilFounder & CEO of Sails.js
I have to admit I was pretty tired by this point in the day and not fully attentive to this panel. My main takeaway was that JavaScript is taking over everything and I really need to work on getting more comfortable with JS development.

In Conclusion

Overall, I enjoyed attending and speaking at the first annual Postman Users Conference. The Postman folks were all very nice and welcoming and there was an interesting mix of roles and viewpoints in the program. I look forward to seeing what they will do next year!

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