Back to List

The Prevalence of Webhooks

Alex Woodward Alex Woodward  |  
Feb 23, 2017
Modern web and mobile applications often require real time information transfer from a server to a client. With a server able to push content to connected clients instantly, as it becomes available, the server does not have to wait for a client to request new data. This need may arise for multiple reasons, such as a developer wishing to use live chat on her website or notifying a user that a file has changed Dropbox. The solutions to these issues can be found within WebSockets and Webhooks.

Behind the Scenes
WebSockets are defined as an HTML5 specification, this specification defines an API that enables web pages, or other clients, to use the WebSockets protocol for a two-way, full-duplex communication channel operating through a single socket with a remote host. By not requiring clients to constantly open and close connections for data, WebSocket based applications place less burden on servers, allowing existing machines to support more concurrent connections.

The biggest advantage of using WebSockets, is that they detect the presence of a proxy server. This allows them to traverse firewalls and proxies, and automatically set up a tunnel using the HTTP CONNECT statement to pass through the proxy. This design allows a WebSocket to work well with existing Web infrastructure, however a switch from HTTP protocol to the WebSocket protocol is required, this is known as the WebSocket handshake. This always open communication channel is perfect for a live chat application. The architecture for this is depicted via the following figure.

In contrast to the WebSocket HTML5 specification with an always open communication channel, Webhooks are user-defined HTTP callbacks, where it is required that a socket stay open on the server and the socket is only opened on the client for the request. In short a Webhook is usually triggered by some event. When that event occurs the source site makes a simple HTTP request, akin to a standard REST request, to the URI configured for the Webhook. This architecture allows causal events on one site to invoke behavior on another, such as a file being changed on Dropbox alerting a disparate service that it has been changed.

The biggest barrier to using WebSockets is the overhead of spinning up a specialized server or paying for a service as well as implementing the API to integrate the system. Webhooks seem to bridge the gap between standard REST requests by making a single API endpoint that can be hit by an event and Websockets by leaving the server side socket open while only opening the client socket when a given event happens. The simplicity and power of Webhooks makes for an exciting future of communication not only within applications but between applications. The piggybacking of one Webhook calling another Webhook could maintain the fundamental decentralized nature of the web.

Microsoft ASP.NET WebHooks V1 RTM
Microsoft saw the prevalence of WebHooks being used in some of the most popular services and Web APIs, so they developed ASP.NET WebHooks V1 RTM to provide a common model for receiving and processing WebHooks from these services. It provides support for Dropbox, GitHub, Stripe and many more. In addition, it provides the tools for generating WebHooks for others to consume. With ASP.NET WebHooks the advantages of Webhooks can be seen in action, as Henrik F Nielsen says on his blog: "The purpose of Microsoft ASP.NET WebHooks is to make it both simpler and more consistent to wire up your API without spending a lot of time figuring out how to handle any WebHook variant." 

Creating a custom WebHook with these new tools is painless, though this does require an Azure subscription.  Just simply follow the instructions from Microsoft’s blog here

Web Development


Love our Blogs?

Sign up to get notified of new Skyline posts.


Related Content

Spring 2019 Kentico User Group
Apr 17, 2019
Location: Waukesha County Technical College - Pewaukee Campus - 800 Main Street, Pewaukee, Wisconsin 53072 - Building: Q, Room: Q361
Blog Article
How to Create an ADA-Compliant Website: A Checklist
Melanie LenaghanMelanie Lenaghan  |  
Nov 19, 2019
This year, Google searches for "ADA compliance" and "website ADA compliance" have skyrocketed. More and more organizations are realizing the benefits of compliance (and the penalties for not complying), and that's driving a surge of ADA compliance. If you're unfamiliar...
Blog Article
Fabric React Primer on Components, Controls and Theming
Will SpieringWill Spiering  |  
Nov 12, 2019
React is one of the most used and beloved JavaScript libraries for building user interfaces. There's no shortage of UI frameworks out there to help make developing great React apps quicker and simpler. You may have heard of a couple of the really popular ones like React Bootstrap or...
Blog Article
7 Key Takeaways from Kentico Connections 2019
Melanie LenaghanMelanie Lenaghan  |  
Oct 10, 2019
Last week I spent two packed days attending Kentico Connections 2019 to learn what mid-size to enterprise businesses should be aware of heading into 2020.   We got an overview of the Kentico Roadmap regarding EMS and Kentico Kontent (formerly Kentico Cloud). And the highlight was the...
Blog Article
Using Hooks to Reactify a Plain JavaScript Library: A Walkthrough
Andrew PetersenAndrew Petersen  |  
Aug 06, 2019
React Hooks make it really easy to wrap a vanilla JavaScript library with a React component so you can easily reuse it throughout your app and stay in "React Mode".In this walkthrough I'll be focusing on a single library, Shave.js, but the techniques and ideas should be applicable...