What is a Webhook

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The purpose of this article is to enlighten you on “What is a Webhook”, a fundamental aspect of Mac-based architecture. With it, you will learn:

  • What a webhook actually is and why we need it.
  • The problem that webhooks can solve, replacing the tiring concept of polling in technology.
  • How webhooks function in systems such as e-commerce and help enhance their operations.
  • Why webhooks deserve the importance they hold in building larger platforms.
  • The significant role webhooks play in composing digital experiences from many different systems and supporting composable commerce.

By understanding more about webhooks, you can keep up with technological updates and trends and use it to your advantage.

What is a Webhook?

Hi everyone, today we’re going to talk about a key technology concept. Something that forms the fabric of Mac-based architecture and is a principal component of all modern day technology. It wasn’t even used to form part of the Mac acronym, but it is absolutely fundamentally important to Mac-based architectures. And that concept is called a webhook. And in this video today, I’m going to take you through what a webhook is, why it’s important. So let’s waste no more time. Let’s get to it.

So let’s start with why do we have a webhook? What is the problem that a webhook fixes? To describe that, I’m going to give you a simple analogy. So have you ever been in the car with a bunch of kids that are super excited about going somewhere? And just like that classic Simpson sketch, they’re going, are we there yet? Are we there yet? And it doesn’t matter how often you say, no, we’re not there yet. We’ve got some time to go. We’ve got at least another hour. A few minutes later, it’s, are you there yet? Are you there yet? Are we there yet? And in technology terms, what we call that is the concept of polling. It’s when you keep asking an API or a system for its status or for an update or a check to see if something has changed. So imagine the scenario, you’re on a webpage and you keep refreshing it to find out the status of something like, has Iron Maiden released a new tour? Or if you’re checking for something that exists, like are the tickets available for the Iron Maiden tour or make sure nothing’s changed, like are the seats that I want available or even check if something’s happened, like there’s a sale, have the prices changed on those tickets, but you keep refreshing and refreshing and refreshing because that’s the only way you can get that data. That is polling. And that’s exactly what we do with systems and APIs. This happens when there are systems that rely on each other’s data that can actually be changed independently of each other. It could be as simple as a boiler checking a thermostat to see if the temperature has changed. It could be an application front end polling an API. It could be an e-commerce system polling a PIM system to see if there are any product changes or even a PIM polling a DAM system to check for the existence of product images.

So what is the alternative? That’s where webhooks step in. A webhook is a way in which you can actually tap into a system’s events. What you can do is you can configure these events to make calls to other systems when those specific events happen in that system. I’m going to use the example of an e-commerce product delivery to a customer. So we’re going to look at the carrier system and we can see as the product moves through different stages of delivery, the carrier system can inform the e-commerce system using a webhook. So each event in the carrier system has a configuration in its webhook to talk to the e-commerce system and inform it of a change. So when an event happens like a package has arrived at the distribution center or it’s out for delivery or even the fact that the package is now being collected by the customer, at each stage in this journey, when an event is triggered, the webhook would fire and send a message to the e-commerce platform’s API. Change the order status, send an email to the customer, or even later ask the customer for a review of that product now it’s been delivered.

Another way of thinking about the webhooks concept is in the old world, polling was about pulling data from another system. But webhooks is about pushing data to a system when it’s required, when it’s necessary, when an event has happened and when there’s been a change. If you’re enjoying this video so far, can you do me one favor? Can you spend some time and just press that like button? That will help this video spread to many others who also want to know about webhooks.

Why are webhooks so important?

So when you’re building a larger platform or a larger system from other systems, each system that you use should be concerned about its own domain. And what I mean by that is CMS should only really be concerned about managing content. The PIM should only ever be concerned about managing product. And for instance, an order management system should only really care and only be concerned about managing orders. Most of the time, these data sets from these systems are composed together in the customer experience. However, there may be dependencies within each of these systems where one change in one system requires an update in another system. But we shouldn’t rely on pooling and duplicating data to make these changes. This should just happen when they happen. And that’s why webhooks are really important because they allow you to make these small adjustments across many different systems when the event actually happens. It’s actually the webhook that allows you to compose digital experiences for many systems. It gives you the confidence about the freshness and the integrity of the data. It will also reduce the amount of business logic you need to build into the front end. Webhooks reinforce the modularity of Mac-based architecture and support composable commerce.

So I hope this helps you understand what a webhook is and why they are so important and so useful. So let’s just try one more webhook. Alexa, end this video. Thank you everyone for watching. I hope you enjoyed this video. Don’t forget to subscribe. Thank you, goodbye and see you next time.

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