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What are Webhooks?

Webhooks are user-defined HTTP callbacks that are triggered by specific events in a server. When an event occurs, the source site makes an HTTP request to the URL configured by the user for that webhook. Webhooks are used to automate reactions to events and integrate different systems with real-time data transfer.

For more detailed information on webhooks, you can read this comprehensive article by Zapier.

How Do Webhooks Differ From Polling?

Webhooks differ significantly from traditional polling mechanisms:

  • Efficiency: Webhooks provide real-time data delivery, whereas polling involves repeated data requests, consuming more bandwidth and resources.
  • Speed: Webhooks offer instant notifications without the delay inherent in the polling cycles.
  • Scalability: Webhooks handle increased loads better because they only transmit data when events occur, unlike polling, where the load depends on the frequency of data requests.

Benefits of Webhooks

Webhooks offer several advantages:

  • Real-time Integration: They allow systems to exchange information instantly, which is crucial for time-sensitive operations.
  • Automation: Webhooks can trigger automated workflows directly, reducing the need for manual intervention.
  • Efficiency: By reducing the need for frequent data checks, webhooks save resources and improve performance.

Common Use Cases

Webhooks are versatile and can be implemented in various scenarios, such as:

  • E-commerce: Notify systems about transaction completions, stock updates, or order status changes.
  • CI/CD Pipelines: Trigger deployments when a new code commit is made.
  • Content Management: Update external platforms when new content is published.
  • IoT Systems: Send real-time alerts from IoT devices.

Webhooks play a critical role in modern API-driven architectures, allowing systems to stay in sync and react to events as they happen.