Spotlight on Engineering: Akshay Bist

You're a Developer at Postman. What would you say … you do here?

A bit of this and a bit of that. I’ve worked on a bunch of different things here at Postman.  Some of them are:

These days I work on our user authentication and permission services. I also dabble in ops and maintain some of our internal packages used across multiple services.

I've heard that you were Postman's FIRST engineering hire way back in 2015. How did you get started working at Postman?

I had used Postman at previous jobs and thought it was a pretty nifty tool. I was never a power user, but appreciated that it made testing API calls much easier.

When I was looking for a new job I saw that Postman was looking for a backend developer and I applied, mostly out of curiosity as I was wondering what work did a REST client have for a backend developer. After I found out what Postman was trying to accomplish, and after seeing how smart the people there were, I really wanted to work for Postman. Luckily I got an offer 🙂

What tech do you get to work with?

Postman runs on JavaScript. We use it almost everywhere we can.

For our backend services we use a Node.js framework called Sails.js, which is a very opinionated wrapper around Express and comes with batteries included. We use MySQL as our datastore, and Redis sessions/caching, Nginx as a reverse proxy, and Docker for containerization.

We run on AWS and try to use managed services wherever we can. We also dog food a lot, and try to build Postman using Postman. An example of this would be the recently released Create New flows, which were built using Postman monitors and mocks.

Personally, I use a Dell XPS 13 9360 Developer Edition running Ubuntu 16.04. I’m the only developer at Postman who doesn’t use a Mac and the only person here who runs Linux.

What’s something cool you’ve worked on recently?

Right now I’m working on bringing reliable interservice communication to Postman. We have a lot of microservices and communicating between them has become a pain. So we have architected a system that uses SQS, MySQL, and couple of small node scripts to provide reliable interservice messaging.

What is one thing everyone should know about the Postman app?

Two features that make my life a lot easier are the ability to star collections so that they show up at the top of the collections list and the two pane view. The two pane view is really helpful when exploring an API, especially when you want to look at the request body and the response together.

Any other Life Pro Tips you want to share with the Postman community?

Audio books are the best thing since sliced bread.

Let me explain. I have a tendency to be lazy. And because I’m lazy, a lot of my house chores tend not to get done. Also, I get distracted quite easily and it is one of the reasons I have a huge, ever increasing pile of unread books. So my house chores weren’t being done and my books were lying unread, and that made me sad 🙁

One day I realized that my chores got done when I’d be on long phone calls. So I thought I’d give audio books a shot and try and kill two birds with one stone. And it worked!

These days I wake up, fire up an Audible and start listening to an audio book and get on with my chores. Also, I cook breakfast more often and instead of eating it in front of my computer, I eat it at the table. It’s a nice way to start the day, and I feel like I’ve accomplished something soon after waking up.

Lastly, what is something we don’t know about you?

I have a fictional universe in my head which contains all my favorite science fiction and fantasy worlds in one single universe.

Ever since I was little, reading a book or watching a movie was never enough for me. I needed to be in the story as a main character. This would involve a backstory for my character and how he fits into the story. I also needed the world to have some reasonable scientific explanation for any magic/supernatural phenomena.

The Void Trilogy, by Peter F. Hamilton gave me an idea of how all these different worlds could co-exist, with a consistent scientific explanation for any magic, and a single backstory for my character. The Void Trilogy is centered around this weird artifact at the center of the galaxy left by a long gone sentient species. It is a universe of its own, which sentient beings can telepathically mould reality to their liking and can even reset it to a time in the past.

I use this to power my fictional universe and explain away all the magic in it.


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