The trend of API-driven architecture has allowed for more seamless integrations between platforms and service providers. It also means a heavy reliance on technical resources for quality assurance (QA) and platform configuration.
To alleviate this, third-party tools like Postman can be utilized to greatly reduce the complexity and redundancy of API testing and allow for a wider audience to work with a platform’s APIs.
What is Postman?
Postman is an API organization and collaboration tool. It offers several features that make creating, sharing, and testing APIs more user friendly. It also allows for the creation of request templates using variable logic to make calling APIs quick and easy.
Any time an API request is made, you have the option to save it to a collection, which acts as a logical grouping—which is typically broken down by specific API. These saved requests allow you to make repeatable calls without having to format the request each time.
Taking this approach even further, you can use client-specific variables, such as authentication keys or environments, in the request URL. This lets you to use the same request (or even collection) across client/environment instances. You can also create request variables that allow for the specific data points to be updated across the request collections.
For example, you can save a specific test user ID, allowing you to easily test various API calls against the same user. This is helpful in a collection where a specific data element can be referenced numerous times.
How we use Postman
On many of our loyalty projects, we’re implementing solutions around API-centric platforms like SessionM. SessionM is a customer loyalty platform that pulls together customer data from throughout the business and aggregates it into a single user profile. This profile gives a company a deeper understanding of its customers, their behaviors, and their value to the company.
SessionM has a host API running at its core, and these APIs drive everything from transaction processing and point-of-sale (POS) systems to customer relationship management (CRM) automation.
Our team utilizes Postman collections with client-specific variables—authentication keys, request URLs, client name, etc.—to create API requests that can be saved as templates to be exported and shared across the team. This enables us to create requests once and use them across clients and environments.
A major benefit that we achieved is the ability to perform platform validations on high-risk features, ensuring consistency across environments and identifying problems early in the configuration process.
Another example of this is having a set of requests preconfigured to create test users on the platform. When an environment is provisioned, an analyst can run the pre-configured, set-up requests to generate a group of test users with varying data attributes that can be used for testing downstream. This automation ensures that we have a consistent set of test users, while reducing the amount of manual configuration required.
We also populate template descriptions with definitions of the data contained in the request to the user, as an on-the-fly data dictionary. Similarly, request bodies are populated with sample data to provide additional context, creating a plug-and-play scenario for testing. This enables a wider range of associates the ability to work with the platform without extensive background knowledge.
Why we love Postman
Our team loves Postman because it makes us more efficient and helps us validate environments faster, identify problems/gaps quicker, and ultimately deliver higher-quality work in a timely fashion. The robust feature set enables our growing team to collaborate and adapt to the many needs of our clients, while maintaining a high degree of confidence in the value we provide.