Spotlight on Engineering: Numaan Ashraf

You're a Product Engineer on the Apps team at Postman. What would you say … you do here?

I spend most of my time with folks working on the Postman application. I play different roles based on where the team feels I'm most valuable at any particular point in time.

So in a typical month, it's a good mix of implementing new features or fixing bugs, code reviews, a bit of technical support for our users, mentoring and working closely with our engineers who are new to Postman or the technologies that we work with.

I also work on release management of the app, as a technical liaison with other projects, talk to folks who are interested in working with us, and work very closely with Shamasis [VP of Engineering], Sobti [CTO and founder], and Asthana [CEO and founder] in improving our development and hiring practices and setting product roadmaps.

Is it true that Newman is named after you, Numaan?

Heh, I get that a lot. But no – it’s a Seinfeld reference actually. We are fans of the show and Newman is named after Wayne Knight’s character, who is a “postman”.

You've worked at Postman for 2 years. How did you get started here?

I had a short stint with PayPal after graduation, where I worked with core payment teams in building services that managed credit card and bank details. I worked on building RESTful APIs for these services and this was how I got interested in the whole API ecosystem and started using Postman extensively for designing, implementing, and testing of these APIs.

After PayPal, I joined two of my friends from college to build products for the open-source hardware and maker movement (sorta like a GitHub, but for open-source hardware). This, unfortunately, didn't work out, but completely changed how I thought about companies, teams, products, and technology. I wanted to build lasting companies by focusing on building great teams and products backed by good technology.

This was when Postman happened.

I got introduced to Asthana by my co-founder and during our chat, Asthana and Sobti mentioned that they were looking for their first frontend hire and by the end of the meeting, it had become clear that Postman was the best place for me. We had a validated product, which solved a real need, backed by a strong team, in a market that was just starting to take off, with a clear vision of how we wanted to grow and what kind of company we wanted to build. Shamasis, our VP of Engineering, and I had a two-hour chat the next day and I started working with Postman the day after that.

What tech do you get to work with?

We use JavaScript extensively here. All of our new backend services are built on Node.js, where we leverage Sails.js a lot. On the frontend side, we are betting heavily on React/Redux going forward. The Postman app's user interface is also built with frontend technologies and we rock a lot of React, Backbone, WebSockets, IndexedDB and the Postman SDK and Runtime. We also use Electron for tighter integration with the OS and deliver a more native experience.

What’s something cool you've been working on recently?

We are focusing on the app's performance and diving deep into all our subsystems and technologies we work with to give a snappier experience to our users.

This includes optimizing our React layer that renders the UI (the app currently has upwards of 450 React Components), speeding up initial load times by code splitting and changing the app's boot sequence to lazy load code and non-critical services, moving to a true multi-process architecture to utilize the system resources more efficiently, and leveraging our open-sourced Postman Runtime and SDK to share as much code as possible between the app and other products like Newman and API monitoring.

And with the sunsetting of Chrome apps planned for this year, we are also looking into adopting the latest technologies web platform has to offer, like WebAssembly, Shared Memory, and Node.js’ N-API in our native apps.

What is one feature everyone should know about Postman?

I recommend heavily Postman Monitors. I am surprised at the number of powerful integrations we were able to build with them. We now use them heavily in the app's development process; from polling and making sure we have enough agents available on our automated build and deploy infrastructure, to generating a daily summary of our GitHub support page to make sure we don't miss the feature requests and feedback from our users.

Besides Postman, any dev tool recommendations?

I'm in love with Chrome DevTools. I don't think I would have continued to develop for the browser platforms without it. It's a one-stop shop for debugging and diving deep into almost anything front-end related. I have a special love for tools and products that are extremely simple and welcoming to new users and but can open up to be an absolute powerhouse when the need arises.

Anything else we don’t know about you?

I'm completely hooked on RSS feeds and Pocket. I pocket almost anything related to design, technology, product development, and startups and with the current unread count standing at 4600+, I've been experimenting with reading and learning hacks to catch up.

My interest in board games and card games has made a big comeback lately and with our weekly game sessions, I've been playing a lot of Catan, Codenames, Sushi Go, Exploding Kittens, and Colt Express with colleagues and friends.


Want to join the team at Postman? We're hiring!