Most of us depend on a handful of apps throughout our day to make our workflows possible. The problem is, most of these apps don't do a great job of communicating with one another. Each portion of our workflow stays relatively siloed (with the exception of a few helpful integrations), and a lot of our time is wasted switching between these apps.
If you've never heard of Webhooks before, you're not alone, but you are missing out on a powerful tool that can allow your apps to communicate more with one another. When used strategically, Webhooks can help you centralize your workflow and automate hundreds of daily processes and tasks.
What is a Webhook?
Webhooks are user-defined HTTP callbacks. They notify you about particular events by creating an HTTP POST to a Web URL.
In simpler terms, they're a way for your apps to subscribe to changes happening in one another. They allow your apps to monitor specific pieces of data from external sources and receive updates about changes to that data in real-time.
How do they work?
When a change occurs in an external application or service (one capable of sending a JSON payload over HTTP), an HTTP POST request is sent to a callback URL belonging to that app.
As an example: you could create a Webhook for Typetalk that sends notifications to your 'Recruiting' Typetalk topic any time an email is sent to a particular address (i.e. your employment inquiry email address, firstname.lastname@example.org.) Once your Webhook is enabled, it would monitor this external email address for new messages and send your Recruiting chat topic a Typetalk message every time a new email is received. Your team then gets notified in real-time of new applicants without ever having to leave your chat app.
What's the benefit of this automation? In short, you cut down on employees having to engage in further task switching, which as we know kills productivity. Employees can get notifications from multiple apps in one place, cutting down on the need to keep cycling through each of your apps individually for updates.
How can I use Webhooks with Typetalk?
There are nearly endless possibilities for incorporating Webhooks into Typetalk, but here are three popular ways to get you started:
1. Monitor your social media mentions
Every time your brand or product is mentioned, you could be receiving a notification. By setting up Webhooks with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.crucial, you can consolidate your mentions into a single chat topic, giving your marketing team a real-time look at what's going on online without anyone having to sign into an individual account or third party social monitoring app.
2. Get notifications about certain emails
We already used this one as an example above; you can set up a Webhook to monitor incoming job applicants. You could also set up a Webhook to monitor emails sent to Support, which could then be directed to a Support chat topic seen by your entire Support team. You could also monitor emails by subject lines or track only emails with attachments.
Without having to leave the comfort of your team chat app, the appropriate team members can be notified in real-time of critical updates.
3. Link your Typetalk Talks with your Backlog Issues
If you're using our Project Management tool, Backlog, in tandem with our chat app, you can easily track comments and changes regarding Backlog issues.
Instead of having to send a mention within Typetalk every time you want your team member to check a recent comment you left or update you made to a particular issue, you can automate this communication. Your team is alerted of changes in real-time, which they can then prioritize into the rest of their day.
If messages start getting too long, you can even use our summarize all messages option to shorten them.
Why do developers love them?
Back in the day, if you wanted to act on changes to databases, websites, or APIs, you had to poll for data. Polling involves writing an algorithm to check the status of an endpoint for changes. Endless polling soaks up system resources and even occasionally overwhelms the I/O of the endpoint when polling intervals are set too close together.
Meanwhile, studies by companies like Zapier were finding that on average, 98.5% of polls are wasted because they nearly always bring back empty data.
For developers, Webhooks presented a smarter option, with over 80% of developers now preferring to use webhooks instead of polling. And it's not hard to understand why they have been embraced so enthusiastically: they make apps more efficient because they only send notifications when there are changes at the endpoint.
Because Webhooks are able to know exactly when a change occurs, they don't need to rely on continuous or periodic API requests. Developers avoid having to maintain extra state and infrastructure, and they don't waste resources on polls that return little to no data. Webhooks keep things leaner.
Where can I learn more?
If you're a developer who wants to learn more about the actual structure of Webhooks, check out Github's tutorial.
If you're not the code-savvy type, but still want to create your own, try out a tool like Zapier that can link you to hundreds of available app API's.
To learn more about working with Typetalk's API, check out our Developer page.