Why you should be using webhooks


4 minutes read time

June 06, 2019

Webhooks can be an overwhelming concept, however, they can be an extremely powerful method of data transfer, allowing your online applications to communicate with each other in real time. This means webhooks will automatically send data as soon as a specific event happens, without the need to request or wait for it.

Webhooks have proven to be a very useful tool with dozens of applications, across several different industries. With web automation apps like Zapier, which support hundreds of apps, you can effectively implement webhooks into your applications to make the management of data easier and more efficient.

Webhooks vs. API’s

First of all, webhooks are simply more efficient. Webhooks are sometimes referred to as reverse API’s because data can be transferred in real-time without any lag, rather than polling API’s for the latest updates. An API is a good way to communicate between applications when you need to ask a question, but if you want to be notified when something has changed it becomes inefficient. A webhook-enabled API would be more methodical as it will automatically transfer data when there is new data to send, saving your system valuable resources.

For example, a feature on your sign-in and out application could include contacts, each of which has a name, email address, and phone number. As soon as someone new signs into your building, a new contact is added to your application. However, another application may want to use that data to either send a text message, look up their email address, or back up the contact data. Whatever it is, without a way to alert these applications when a new contact is added, you force them to constantly poll for new data which is inefficient and unsustainable.

How can webhooks benefit you?

When analyzing data, it is important to work with up-to-date information and data. The frequency of your API would limit this, as information isn’t updated in real time. Webhooks, however, give you the option to update the information instantly, while still being able to request your API’s for more information if needed.

It is worth noting that webhooks are used for sending information, whereas our API can be used to update or change information. For example, when someone signs in, a webhook will send information to another system to let it know that this specific event has happened. This system will then use our API to get more information about that event and update information as required.

Are webhooks hard to set up?

You’re probably thinking that webhooks must be difficult to set up, but in actual fact, webhooks are incredibly easy to create, much easier than building an API.  

When would you use webhooks?

To give you a better idea of when webhooks would be useful, here are some ideas:


With WhosOnLocation, any data associated with a sign-in event can be sent using a webhook. Some examples of what your third-party applications can do with the data include:

  • sending arrival and departure notifications via Slack,
  • opening doors and gates via an access control system
  • recording sign in and out information for time and attendance applications
  • sending additional information to guests such as the Wi-Fi password or health and safety information.

It is also possible to use webhooks to connect WhosOnLocation to the internet of things (IoT). An example of this could be when the first person signs into the office the lights, heating or even the coffee machine will automatically turn on. The possibilities are endless!

Google Sheets

Webhooks can connect WhosOnLocation to Google Sheets through Zapier. Next time a visitor signs in, you will be able to keep track of and use the information they give you to update your spreadsheets. This could be anything from email addresses to the hours your employees worked.


If you are looking to grow your marketing mailing list when people sign in, MailChimp could be the integration you need. In order to do this, you will need to create a custom question at the Kiosk asking the visitor if they want to be added to the mailing list. The webhook will then automatically update MailChimp with the new email address, ready for a new email to be sent out without having to enter addresses in manually.

Webhooks are the only practical way to get up-to-the-second access to new data. Webhooks allow pre-requested information to be passed to other applications when the specific event occurs, in comparison to manually polling API’s for new information. This will add value to your systems because it will give you the ability to connect third-party applications through Zapier, saving time and increasing efficiency in your workplace.