Introducing Postman Live Insights: faster, better API debugging
Today, we’re excited to launch the Postman Live Insights alpha to help developers quickly discover API endpoints and efficiently find and fix issues. In this blog post, we’ll talk about how APIs have made the “real insights” problem harder than ever before, why a new approach is necessary, and how we’re solving this problem with Live Insights.
A prototype of Postman Live Insights
How APIs have magnified the “real insights” problem
Every developer has faced some version of this problem: there’s a missing piece of information standing between you and the end of your workday. Maybe it’s some API you just can’t get to behave as you expect. Or you can’t pin down which API calls are leading to the errors you see.
The word “documentation” doesn’t capture what’s needed in these cases, since polished developer-facing docs rarely contain the nuance needed to address these kinds of problems. What’s missing is some form of “real” insights: for instance, subtle details about how to call an API, or details about how an offending API is getting called “for real.”
In the last decade, the API explosion has made it easier than ever before for software teams to build and share functionality. But at the same time, developers are able to build very complex systems quickly, meaning these systems quickly become harder to understand than ever before.
With the rise of APIs, it’s easier to build systems that have more lines of code and more network API calls. It’s become far easier for developers to build systems that they themselves do not understand the full inner workings of. And, the fact that most web apps use some form of third-party API means that it has become the norm to not fully understand the inner workings of your own systems.
The “real insights” gap
Today, most tools still require one thing increasingly elusive to developers: knowledge about the system under examination.
For instance, the Postman API Platform has always been easy to start using and makes all kinds of useful features available once you’ve figured out how to call APIs.
Okay, so are there other solutions out there that can tell developers how to call APIs? Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is no.
While you might think monitoring and observability solutions can tell you about your systems, mainstream solutions are primarily helpful for digging deeper when you already know the lay of the land. For instance, AWS users can easily turn on CloudWatch to monitor their systems, but it can only tell you aggregate information: the system is slow overall; there’s an error somewhere in the system. Similarly, observability solutions from Datadog to Honeycomb can be immensely helpful if you know what you want to instrument and what you’re looking for. But today’s tools tend to focus on providing a fire hose of information, rather than a gentle introduction to the ins and outs of a system.
Meet Postman Live Insights
With Postman Live Insights, our vision is to help guide a developer with little previous experience—in both the system being monitored and the Postman API Platform—to productively find and fix issues. Our goal is to be able to help any developer locate API endpoints causing potential issues within 30 minutes of signing up for an account. This will empower even a new developer to find and fix issues in their first days on the job, as easily as they can call an API today.
We’ve been working towards the early access launch of Live Insights. Today, the alpha launch focuses on the Live Collections Agent, which passively watches your API traffic to automatically populate a Postman Collection with API endpoints. Within just 15 minutes of installing the Live Collections Agent in staging or production, you’ll start seeing endpoints show up in your collection. The Live Collections Agent will keep these endpoints up to date based on new observed traffic.
API discovery is just the beginning of what we hope to offer. Coming soon: the ability to explore automatically updated API endpoints based on error, latency, and volume. In the next months, we’re planning to work with our early users to figure out how to surface this information in the most helpful ways.
Grow with us: be the first to try the Live Collections Agent
With Postman Live Insights, we’re looking to build automated insights that previously only existed in the heads of veteran team members. We know this is an ambitious goal. That’s why we need early users who get the vision and want to dream with us.
Today, we’re rolling out an alpha of the Live Collections Agent. It will be first available to developers running Kubernetes, immediately followed by users of ECS and EC2 in the next few weeks.
If you’d like to try out Live Insights, we’d love to hear from you! Sign up here to get an early look and give us feedback.