Webhooks are changing the way websites interact and talk to each other.
While the future of webhooks remains unclear, they provide a powerful way to get insight on the types of events that are happening on your pages and help you to respond quickly and appropriately.
Let’s dive deep into the working ins and outs of WordPress webhooks, what they do, why they are good, and how to implement them.
What Are WordPress Webhooks?
What exactly are WordPress webhooks and what do they do? You may have heard of these, but your understanding about them is limited. Perhaps you’ve never heard of them at all! We’re going to break it down into simple terms on what they are and why they benefit you.
Webhooks are also known as HTTP push APIs or web callbacks. WordPress webhooks, in their simplest sense, are a great way for applications to speak to each other. A webhook allows one app to push notifications to another app.
Webhooks are very useful in acquiring information about user actions that occur on your WordPress blog. They work to deliver data on actions the instant that action happens.
WordPress Webhooks vs Traditional APIs
Webhooks are APIs, but not in the traditional sense. WordPress Webhooks don’t need to ask for data on a constant basis to get results in real-time. They transmit data in between the applications for ease of use and are much more efficient for consumers and providers.
Webhooks have many great benefits, but they are difficult to set up. They are also known as Reverse APIs. You have to design an API for a webhook with the given API specs.
The WordPress webhooks will make a post (or an HTTP request) to your application. After the HTTP request is made, the developer is in charge of interpreting what it means.
What Do They Do?
Think for a minute about your cell phone. When you’re receiving a call from someone, your cell phone rings to signal that someone is calling you. That signal is sent from the person calling you to your cell phone.
WordPress webhooks work on a similar concept. A webhook provider application transmits a signal with specific data about a specific event. The application that’s receiving the signal is referred to as a “listener.” The listener receives the webhook and carries out a predefined action based on the data it receives.
When triggers are set up on the source site, they can be tracked by webhooks. WordPress webhooks are like little spies. They notice when an event is triggered and instantly send it to a URL. This URL is specified by the site owner and is received as an HTTP request.
Webhooks are complex and will even allow you to set up triggers between sites. If one event happens on one site, it could trigger an event on another site.
Why Are They Important?
Why are webhooks important to developers using WordPress? Webhooks provide consistent real-time data about events happening within your site. You get to understand how users are interacting with your website and set up targeted actions to direct them where you want them to go.
They offer a ton of value by notifying you immediately of those transactions. For instance, if a user is interested in an event, you can give them a webhook. That webhook will allow them to integrate the event stream into their daily life.
Customizable Features on Webhooks
The future holds even greater things for webhooks. As technology changes and developers put more time into the development of webhooks, the value of them will improve dramatically. Webhooks will be able to call on other webhooks. They will even be able to process time-sensitive versus time-insensitive requests.
Webhooks can be customized for different users. It’s important that, as technology and the way we implement processes change, WordPress webhooks change as well.
HTTP requests aren’t going anywhere. It’s the natural way the web speaks to each other from website to website. Having this at the foundation of webhooks makes them able to withstand the test of time.
What Types of Request Can a Webhook Provide?
As you’ve learned, a webhook is completely customizable. This means that they can trigger an event and track that event. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common webhooks.
- Data about emails you send
- Receive email as soon as it arrives
- Send text messages
- Send voice calls
- Notifications of file changes
- Subscription Requests
- Unsubscribe Requests
- User Profile Updates
- Changes in Email Addresses
- Blog Comment Notifications
- Deleted Comment Notifications
These are just a few of the things webhooks can do when you implement them on a site. WordPress webhooks will trigger actions that are connected to your blog such as unsubscribes/subscribes and comments on a post.
Setting Up Webhooks
Setting up WordPress webhooks is not a complicated task. Setting up webhooks outside of WordPress may be more difficult, but WordPress makes it pretty easy for the user.
All you have to do is go to your settings panel in your WordPress admin site. There’s an entire section just for setting up webhooks on your dashboard. You click to add a webhook and it takes you to a list of actions you can choose to implement on your site.
Streamlining webhooks can be done with WordPress plugins such as WebSub or Hookpress.
We are going to take a look at these two, as they are the most common and most used webhook plugins within WordPress.
This plugin has everything to do with your blog. It alerts subscribers and users in real-time when making updates. This plugin is used by a variety of well-known companies such as Google for Google alerts and Google reader.
As the owner of the blog, you will be automatically alerted to any new subscription requests. These requests are verified and validated to ensure there is no spam coming through. This plugin works through sections called “Hubs.”
The hubs can transmit and distribute any new or updated blog content to the users that have signed up for the subscription.
It can also complete other tasks such as supporting multiple hubs and feed formats and allows for multi-user installation.
Another popular WordPress webhooks plugin is HookPress. Though this plugin has not been updated in the past three years, users still are actively using it on sites without issues.
HookPress allows for all sorts of webhook requests to be set up and is a free open source service. It provides many of the same features as WebSub.
If you don’t know how to set up WordPress plugins or webhooks, you could always hire IT services in Los Angeles to help get you set up and started.
Things to Note
There are a few things that you should think about when you create your webhooks. Make sure you’re doing your research on the webhooks you’re using and any outside or third-party applications.
Application Errors and Time-Outs
Make sure you are keeping up to date with any errors your application is facing. If your application experiences an error, it could stop responding to HTTP requests and lose important data. Webhooks do have the ability to resend requests if the application looks to have failed, but this doesn’t always happen.
If you do receive a request that was a resend, checking to make sure it did not duplicate the data within your application is important. Make sure you know how your WordPress webhooks work in regard to application errors. Then you’ll be able to know what to do when your application experiences one.
The Volume of HTTP Requests
The second thing to remember is that webhooks are making a lot of HTTP requests. It will be difficult to sift through them all on your own if you only have one person available to look at them.
Take a look at the different apps available to you that can help handle the scale of your webhooks. They will make sure you’re on task with the requests coming in.
Do You Need Them?
As you now know, webhooks can provide a lot of great benefits for your business. The main one being that you receive important data and notifications from your sites in real-time.
This alone will help you stay connected with your customers and subscribers, making sure they are getting the attention they require.
Webhooks lead to more productivity and higher efficiency between providers and consumers, allowing for less work and monitoring.
Are you interested in optimizing your WordPress website in other ways? Take a look at this blog on optimization of images to improve your site speed.