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Timothy Fitz recently wrote on What webhooks are and why you should care. It’s a very clear and straightforward description of just that. It helps to have people other than me talking about web hooks. Granted, Timothy is a good friend of mine, but it did spark a good discussion in his comments and on reddit.

webhooks08_udell135Also, Jon Udell brought up web hooks in a recent post regarding Assembla’s usage of the model. It shouldn’t be a surprise that he considers the adoption of web hooks a game changer. I still quote him in my presentations for envisioning in 1997 “a new programming paradigm that takes the whole Internet as its platform.” It’s an idea I’m quite fond of that I believe requires more than web APIs.

While I’m at it, Joe Gregoria posted his initial reaction of web hooks last week. His major critique was the lack of rigorous text around the model. Certainly I write a decent amount about them, but I avoid specifics. My focus right now is sharing the big picture, getting people to implement them on their own, and documenting the different discoveries along the way. I personally don’t feel a need to try and standardize very much yet, but perhaps better specifics on “how to provide web hooks” would be a good thing to get documented.

I’m glad a wider discussion is starting to emerge. I’ve stumbled across several other blog posts on web hooks recently. Some of the issues people bring up are authentication, scalability, and reliability. I plan to cover these issues in upcoming posts since they’re pretty straightforward, but you’re all welcome to participate in this discussion. Feel free to join our discussion list, write a blog post, leave a comment, tell your friends, or best of all: try implementing the model yourselves.

Speaking of the discussion recently, it was pointed out that Uche Ogbuji started publicly thinking about this about the same time I did in 2006. He called them web triggers as inspired from the database world. I chose web hooks coming from the programming world. There are a lot of words that describe different aspects of the same pattern: events, signals, callbacks, hooks, triggers, handlers, listeners… I stuck with hooks not just to keep the name simple to pronounce and differentiable from common code-level event terminology, but I also liked the idea of “programmability” it implies.

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