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Zendesk, the hosted help desk software, has had a feature called Targets. This allows you to send notifications to external destinations. I got really excited when I heard about this. Upon further investigation, I found that they are web hooks, but not necessarily the greatest example of web hooks.

Right now, they support two hard-coded targets: Twitter and Campfire. They also let you target an arbitrary URL, which of course they call “very powerful.” That’s a web hook, right? Yes, but unfortunately, the notification payload they send is a human readable text string. That’s not so bad, but really, code is going to process it, so why not make it more machine friendly?

My only other critique is that they shouldn’t hardcode the services they support for targets. They should do as GitHub has done and run a local web server serving open-source handler scripts. This way, they can allow others to easily write and contribute to Zendesk’s integration with other services and still support it and make it feel like hard-coded service integration.

One Comment

  1. Hey, thanks for the mention. I’d like to chime in with some details.

    The Zendesk targets are just pointers to a destination (or a “kind” of destination). You define *what* you want to send (format/content) to that destination. At the end of the day it’s just an HTTP parameter value.

    It’s also up to you to define *when* you want to send that message, ie. under what circumstances. This is entirely driven by triggers that act on state change in the system.

    So while we do have preconfigured targets for popular services, we also have a lot of flexibility that allows you to roll your own hooks (including “whats and whens”) using the HTTP target.

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