The big idea of this article is to answer the question “What is a Webhook?”. You will find out what webhooks are, why they’re important, and how they make the internet work more smoothly for us. Here are the key things you’ll learn:
- The problem of ‘polling’, where software keeps checking again and again to see if something has changed – just like kids in a car asking, “Are we there yet?”
- How webhooks offer a smarter and more efficient solution. Instead of always checking, webhooks wait for changes to happen and only then do they spring into action.
- The role of webhooks in e-commerce, where they keep track of every step in product delivery – from the warehouse to your front door.
- The crucial role that webhooks play in making big systems work together, allowing them to share information quickly and without any hiccups.
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 and let’s get to it.
Why do we have a webhook?
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.
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.
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.
To conclude, “What is a Webhook?” is all about a neat piece of techno-wizardry that makes our digital world spin smoother. If the internet was a giant game of ‘Telephone,’ webhooks would be the whispers that pass the important messages along. Instead of constantly asking other systems if anything’s new (which is like a little kid asking, “Are we there yet?” over and over), webhooks simply wait to get the scoop and then send the news to where it’s needed. That way, everything stays fresh and accurate, with less work and bother. Webhooks are like undercover superheroes, making Mac-based architectures and other internet setups efficient and reliable. So next time Alexa interrupts your favorite tune to announce that your pizza delivery is around the corner, that’s a webhook at work!