Tyk Side Project Fund winner Postwoman.io shares Tyk’s passion for all things API-related. The innovative API request builder is taking the pain out of API requests, in much the same way that Tyk takes the stress out of managing them.
When Tyk’s founder and CEO, Martin, couldn’t find what he was looking for on the API gateway market, he decided to build what he needed himself. Fast-forward a few years and Tyk has evolved from an open source gateway side project to a multi-use business tool used by businesses around the world.
Now, with both APIs and side projects dear to the Tyk team’s hearts, we are delighted to be able to help Postwoman.io flourish through the Tyk Side Project Fund. We recently sat down for a virtual cup of tea with winner Liyas Thomas, to find out all about Postwoman.io and how it is revolutionising the world of API request building.
Tyk: Please can you tell us what your project, Postwoman.io, is all about?
Liyas: Postwoman.io is an API request builder. It’s a web application that allows you to instantly create API requests directly from your web browser. You can access it from your laptop, tablet, phone or other device that has an internet connection. And if you’re offline you can still access the platform.
That’s the core of the project. We focus mainly on REST APIs, though we also have options to test WebSockets and Socket.io endpoints, as well as MQTT Broker and GraphQL endpoints.
Tyk: What led you to start this side project in the first place? What’s your background?
Liyas: I’m from India and I’m 23 years old. For the past five or six years I’ve been doing open source projects. I started programming when I was about 15 years old. After graduating in engineering and computer science, I began working with a local start-up and it was there that I first discovered API testing tools.
That’s how Postwoman.io was born. One of the mainstream applications for API testing was Postman. I was using a low-end PC that was about nine years old. I couldn’t run Postman on it, so that’s why I built Postwoman as a web app. So I can relate to Tyk’s evolution!
Tyk: What are the challenges that you face when working on your side project?
Liyas: There are various challenges, one of which is working with developers in different time zones. We work with developers in China, India, Europe and the US. Team collaboration can be difficult when you’re often working with people from different time zones. We have overcome the challenges of working with such a distributed team by using project management collaboration tools and carefully scheduling calls.
The financial side of things has also been a challenge. I started Postwoman with a budget of $0. That meant using free plans at first and then switching to paid plans as the project gained traction. This was particularly important when it came to cloud storage and hosting, so we could scale up or down based on usage.
Tyk: What are the values that drive you personally?
Liyas: The main reason why I started contributing to open source projects was self-development. Companies are looking for your involvement in different projects focussed on practical experience, not just your university grades. So one of the reasons that I turned to open source development was so that I could get a good day job.
Along the way, though, I discovered that being a contributor to prestigious open source projects doesn’t just accelerate your value in the current climate, but also helps you build an audience in your niche. At one point, I had around 10,000 followers in one account. It is humbling to know I have an audience – it keeps me accountable. To me, it’s about valuing both career development and self-development.
Tyk: How will the Tyk Side Project Fund help Postwoman.io to grow?
Liyas: Most side projects start without a budget. It’s also fair to say that most developers don’t make any money out of their side projects. I’ve blogged about this before. They are either making a tool that they need, like I did with Postwoman, or they do it to improve their career in some way, perhaps to increase the odds of getting a promotion at work.
For me personally, I’ve made just a couple of dollars in the past couple of years through side projects, so the Tyk funding is certainly a much needed welcome surprise in the side projects landscape! It’s going to help grow Postwoman to grow by funding the website datastore, hosting and other essential services.
Tyk: What tips would you give to someone looking to start a side project?
Liyas: Two months ago, I was in discussion with a number of project managers and developers. I found that most of the developers didn’t have side projects, despite, in some cases, working for over six years in their particular field. It was quite a realisation!
I believe that creating a side project is one of the best things that you can do. Companies are focusing more on your contributions outside of work, especially in tech, whether they’re in open source, through a side project or another contribution. With new tech ideas, the only way to find out how an industry works is to create a project, build an audience around it and then seek out contributions.