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Preaching the API Gospel: An Interview With the API Evangelist, Kin Lane of Postman

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Preaching the API Gospel: An Interview With the API Evangelist, Kin Lane of Postman

See what API Evangelist, Kin Lane of Postman, has to say about the future of APIs as we continue into 2020.

· Microservices Zone ·
Free Resource

In this interview, I speak with Kin Lane, Chief Evangelist at Postman and (as he's perhaps better known) The API Evangelist.

Kin joined Postman in September 2019, but it's not the first time he's been an evangelist for specific APIs. Before getting heavily involved in promoting the business of APIs, Kin was an evangelist for two different businesses: a print API in New York and a business directory in Hollywood. But, it just didn't feel right, so he began his API Evangelist journey in 2010, which would see him spend the next decade (and counting) eating, sleeping, and breathing the technology, business, and politics of APIs.

You may also like: API Evangelist API Lifecycle Workshop on API Design

In his role as The API Evangelist, Kin has spoken with everyone from start-ups to enterprises, as well as government agencies, international banks, and even the European Commission to help them figure out what all the fuss surrounding APIs is about and how they can help them.

Kin's fondness of Postman stems from the fact that the project keeps developers front and center in everything it does. As a result, scores of developers have embraced and use Postman (some 10 million globally), making their lives ultimately easier.

Kin's Three Favorite Postman Features?

Postman's significant success lies in its ability to simplify the building of an API, as it enables people to see the results of the API in action, without having to write any code. For Kim, three features, in particular, stand out.

  1. At the core of Postman is requests. Developers can make an HTTP1.1 request, configure it, see the details of the response and the headers. It's a core feature of Postman, and the feature most developers use Postman for.
  2. Second is the ability to save requests into collections with only the properties and parameters required. Teams can then share these with other teams to collaborate on the same APIs regardless of location.
  3. Postman also allows developers to run requests in different environments. Developers can abstract variables from collections and requests and run the collection in different environments, depending on what variables they need or apply to the environment.

For example, you could create a shopping cart order that looks for a particular product, adds it to the cart, checks out, and pays for it. With environments, developers can test the API calls across different countries and products using the same underlying collection, but with keys, tokens, and secrets abstracted as necessary.

Kin's Top Tips for API Strategy

Keep. It. Simple.

There's often a tendency to want to explore the latest and greatest API tech. Whether this is developer-led because they want to get their hands on technology that's cool and shiny or vendor-led because they want to sell products.

As exciting and promising as things like hypermedia, GraphQL, gRPC, Kafka, Websockets, and other alternative API approaches are, Kin says companies should start with basic web APIs that use REST and get it right first.

He also mentioned that enterprises need to get better at documenting, communicating, and iterating upon simple web API designs. They should get a handle on versioning and the evolution of their API capabilities before they chase anything else. If you can define, design, deploy, and iterate upon all your organizational capabilities consistently across teams version after version, then you've nailed it. Do it well at scale so that everything looks uniform across the board, and you're there.

Kin's final piece of advice is for companies to get better at asking, "why are we doing this?" and get stronger at saying "no" to new features or technologies that have no value.

Postman's Plans for 2020

More of the same and following the roadmap to promote API-first and trying to help people think beyond a code-first approach. We hope that by adopting a design-first over code-first approach, enterprises will ultimately be more efficient and save money.

Postman also wants to see more non-developers — people like business stakeholders — get more involved in the entire API lifecycle to help speed up the business feedback loop.

What's in Store for the API Space This Year?

Kin thinks that event-driven communication coupled with gRPC are going to dominate 2020, as developers strive to implement two-speed APIs and two-way, real-time streaming APIs. This will signify a real maturity point for APIs because organizations require that kind of performance, throughput, and high-volume of data more and more.


Further Reading

API Development – An Introductory Guide

Best of DZone: All Things API

API Is Dead – Long Live the APIs

Topics:
api ,graphql ,grpc ,http ,postman ,rest api

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