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Web hooks are user-defined callbacks over HTTP. They’re intended to, in a sense, “jailbreak” our web applications to become more extensible, customizable, and ultimately more useful. Conceptually, web applications only have a request-based “input” mechanism: web APIs. They lack an event-based output mechanism, and this is the role of web hooks. People talk about Unix pipes for the web, but they forget: pipes are based on standard input and standard output. Feeds are not a sufficient form of output for this, which is partly why Yahoo Pipes was not the game changer some people expected. Instead, we need adoption of a simple, real-time, event-driven mechanism, and web hooks seem to be the answer. Web hooks are bringing a new level of event-based programming to the web.

About the Author

I’m Jeff Lindsay and I’m currently a Web Systems Architect at NASA Ames. However I’m more generally seen as a prototype developer/designer for hire, usually by San Francisco based web startups. I’ve been an independent web gunslinger for 9 years. I’m also a rabid thinker, writer, conceptualizer, and prototyper. Web hooks are a neat idea that fell from this. I’ve been the driving evangelist for web hooks since I coined the moniker in 2006.

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