A few nights ago I was working on a new computer and had a need to install Postman. For anyone who doesn’t know, Postman is a popular API testing application - written in Electron. Incidentally, last year, Postman received an investment of $225 million. So, anyone who claims that Electron is worthless or dead clearly has some explaining to do! Electron is excellent and so is Postman.

Unfortunately, I had some difficulty getting Postman installed. So, after a few failed attempts I gave up and searched on Google for “Postman alternatives”. This led me on a wild goose chase where I found an abundance of alternatives that all turned out to be either; paid, subscription based, only compatible with Windows, not able to query ‘localhost’ or not able to install for some other reason. Bummer!

Then, in a moment of glorious inspiration I had an idea.

"Let’s just build my own Postman alternative using Trongate!"

Let’s be clear, Postman is one of those apps that’s a little bit like Microsoft Excel. Most people who have more than ten minutes experience with a computer will gladly tell you that they ‘know Excel’. However, as any accountant will tell you, Excel may look simple from the outside but it’s actually incredibly powerful and is packed with hidden features and hidden complexity. Same goes for Postman.

I’m not so insensitive that I’m going to declare myself as somebody with plans of building a ‘Postman clone’. That’s a ridiculous proposition. All I needed, in this instance, was something simple. Something that could let me do very simple HTTP requests and - perhaps - submit some variables while I’m at it. That’s all. After about an hour of tinkering around I came up with “PostPerson” - a politically correct alternative to Postman!

Now, just to stress the point - once again - this is just a tiny thing that I built and it only does about one percent of what Postman does. Having said that, the one percent that it does covers approximately 100% of my own personal use cases. So, I was quite pleased with how my little PostPerson app turned out. I could finally move on and get some real work done. Problem solved.

Then, a thought occurred to me.

“This would make a good YouTube tutorial”

This was all happening at around 3am and I was eager to get some sleep. So, without any time for preparation or note-taking I fired up Camtasia and hit 'record'. Within less than hour hour, PostPerson had been built a second time - only this time, it was a YouTube tutorial. Here’s the tutorial:



After finishing my YouTube tutorial I felt quite pleased with myself. Even though I had not built a perfect clone of Postman, what I built in under fifty minutes with Trongate was impressive. I felt confident that I was the only person who has put out content of this type.

Then, disaster struck.

As I was about to switch off my computer, I did a quick search on YouTube to see if anyone else had posted a tutorial on how to build a Postman alternative (or a Postman clone). Turns out there was one other YouTuber who has posted a similar tutorial, only this time using NPM. Unluckily for me, it was one of the most popular developers on YouTube - a super talented JavaScript developer who goes by the name, ‘Web Dev Simplified’.

I clicked onto his video and I noticed - to my horror - that his tutorial was seven minutes shorter than mine. Ouch!

Here's his tutorial:



Then, I skimmed to the end of his video to see what his end product looked like. I felt confident that he couldn’t possibly get through as much as me in such a short space of time. Not only was I using Trongate but I happen to be the founder of Speed Coding Academy. I’m the guy who is supposed to fast! I’m the Web Developer Extraordinaire! I’ve probably been doing this kind of thing for a living since the days when Web Dev was still in a pram. Of course my final product was going to be better!

Wrong again!

Turns out the NPM version of the Postman alternative looked really good. I mean, much better than mine! ‘Web Dev Simplified’ also managed to fit in a whole bunch of features that my app never had. As a matter of fact, to the untrained eye - the thing that he built could have passed for a clone, or at least some kind of officially endorsed alternative version to Postman. For the first time in my life I got whooped by another developer. There was no point in pretending otherwise. Even though it wasn’t a race, I was beaten by the better man and WDS had produced a better product in a shorter space of time. Double ouch!

But wait! What’s that? Up in the sky!

It’s a bird!

It’s a plane!

It’s… Dafa!!!!

Isn’t it funny how on YouTube, the best parts are sometimes not the videos but the comments? This is why I always encourage people to read the comments.

It turns out, our good friend Dafa (who is a founding member) took the time to do a little research. What he discovered changes everything. I won’t give you a speech. I’ll just give you his comment and I think it’s safe to say the numbers speak for themselves:

“Kyle's project [i.e., the Web Dev Simplified guy!] had 208 packages from 108 contributors and audited 212 packages in 11.411s,

13 packages are looking for funding

found 22 vulnerabilities (1 moderate, 21 high)

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

David's project [using Trongate] had 0 packages from 1 contributor.

0 vulnerabilities [and 0 looking for funding!]”

Hmm no argument if you ask me…”


Now, let’s be clear. This whole thing wasn’t a race or any sort of formalized competition. I’ve never met ‘Web Dev Simplified’. He has had no opportunity to talk to me, answer any questions or offer a retort. His integrity and his skillset are not in question. We must assume that if we were working on a perfectly level playing field then he could raise his game and bring even more to the table. Therefore, it cannot be stressed enough that he walks away from all of this without a scratch. He is awesome. He might even have the best web development channel on YouTube!

Nevertheless, I think that the variable of third-party dependency is incredibly important. I also think that my own little audience is intelligent enough and nuanced enough to appreciate the difference. My app had no third-party dependencies whatsoever. As a matter of fact, I never even used the Trongate desktop app code generator! Everything that I did - with the exception of downloading the bare bones framework - was written by hand. Web Dev Simplified, on the other hand, served up an installation fest. His entire end product amounted to an assortment of pre-packaged and pre-prepared third-party libraries. THAT REALLY MATTERS.

Had a Trongate developer decided to build ‘PostPerson’ with the luxury of being able to use third-party code then they would have been able to complete the entire task in under one minute! Don’t believe me? Head over to the Trongate Module Market and download PostPerson for yourself. It’s free!

PostPerson URL: https://trongate.io/module-market-item/0122N2YU

(BY THE WAY: the easiest and quickest way to get PostPerson is by using the Trongate Desktop App)

Many thanks to Dafa for the research and thanks to Web Dev Simplified for the experience. I have not had an opportunity to meet Kyle (I believe that’s his name). However, if Kyle reads this then let me assure you, I think your content is excellent. I wish Web Dev Simplified every success. I predict a very bright future for that channel.

Finally, to you - the reader. I hope you’ll forgive me if this whole article seems a little bit defensive from my end. However, I really want you to be left in no doubt about why this whole episode was a massive win for Trongate. So, for more information about this, and some general ranting about the state of web development, I would encourage you to check out the follow up video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jb4vcl6Q_7w

Trongate is rising and together, we SHALL make PHP great again!

DC