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Application development has evolved considerably since the turn of the century. Previously, monolith architecture was predominantly used to build applications, but this has changed with the proliferation of cloud services. Microservices architecture has now become the go-to method to build applications. This model enables organizations to host applications on multiple devices, environments, and in different geographies, giving the architecture resilience and flexibility.
The communication between the various applications in the microservices architecture is handled by a communication layer. This layer enables communication between microservices within the applications of the same organization or between different organizations. The most common tool in this layer is the Application Programming Interface (API).
Webhooks are also used in the communication layer. Many confuse the two because they enable communication between two applications, but they are quite different in many respects. In this article, we’ll explore what webhooks and APIs are, and consider both their similarities and their differences.
APIs and webhooks are used to send data from one application or repository to another. On the surface they may seem similar, but they are actually different sets of technologies. This becomes obvious when we consider the different uses for them both.
First, we’ll review the fundamentals of the two technologies and then learn to differentiate them.
API stands for Application Programming Interface and is a set of protocols and definitions for communication between two applications; for example, HTTP is one of the protocols used for APIs. Depending on the permissions, API can handle CRUD operations and supports POST, GET, and DELETE requests. All microservices architecture use APIs as the communication layer.
One of the most popular APIs is Google Maps API. Businesses like Uber and Lyft make use of their service by requesting map data, with Google Maps API then returning the relevant information to the requestor. The communication between these businesses and Google Maps API is possible because they have agreed to a set of definitions and protocols in advance.
Webhooks are automated messages sent between applications using the HTTP protocol. Webhooks are used to send some data to a predefined URL when some event or activity is triggered, with the data then being sent using a POST request. Many applications use Webhooks because they efficiently utilize resources. Our detailed tutorial dedicated to webhooks covers everything you need to know.
Slack uses webhooks that can post messages to a certain channel. For example, the Slack channel for a company’s vendors can be automated with webhooks. When a new purchase order is created, the event triggers a notification to the respective channel of the vendor. This removes the inconvenience of having to continuously check the status of purchase orders, as users are notified when one is created.
Now that we have a basic understanding of webhooks and APIs, let’s take a look at the differences between them.
Webhooks and APIs share a lot of features, but the two technologies are used for different purposes. An API is a general way to transfer data, whereas webhooks are a lightweight and resource-efficient way for one-way communication, making them the perfect tool to implement notifications for your application. To set up a complete notification system for your application without any programming hassle, start your free trial with MagicBell today!