Application programming interfaces (APIs) translate app functionality across multiple forms, making it easy for one piece of software to “speak” with another and streamline the user experience. As noted by Tech Native, real-time APIs now power everything from home automation to fraud detection, digital communication, and the Internet of Things (IoT). They’re also ideal for document automation, allowing processes to proceed uninterrupted across multiple, disparate apps.
In some cases, however, complete API architecture isn’t necessary. Webhooks offer the ability to connect action and information by delivering automatic notifications to one app when another application completes a specific task. But what exactly is a webhook? How do companies build their own? And what options are available if you’d prefer to capture key data without writing code?
What’s a webhook?
Webhooks allow one app to provide other applications with information in real-time. Accusoft Software Engineer Natalie Torretti defines them as “an API call that is made out to a URL provided by the user containing some type of data they are listening for.” For non-developers, webhooks wait for specific conditions to be met and then send a notification directly to the hooked app.
To understand how they work in practice, consider the two basic ways applications can communicate with each other – polling and webhooks. Polling in applications works just like you’d expect. One application directly asks another for information and repeats that process over and over again until the information is received. Webhooks, meanwhile, “hook” into application code and detect when certain actions occur, then send out a message to whatever application that is “waiting” for a response.
Consider your alarm clock. If you check it every time you wake up to see how much time you’ve got left to sleep, you’re polling — directly capturing relevant information — but you can also wait until the alarm goes off automatically at the time you’ve set. This is a webhook at work. You get an automatic notification based on specific conditions.
Webhooks are ideal for state-driven business process automation, since they make it possible to capture relevant information from multiple apps using minimal effort, in turn reducing the amount of time your staff spends searching for specific data, allowing you to both connect disparate document processes and streamline task tracking.
Casting Your Own Line
OnTask from Accusoft is designed to make your life easier by automating key document processes such as forms creation, data entry, dynamic web form building, and digital signature transactions. You can also map, replicate, and update key business processes with OnTask’s intuitive, no-code workflow tool.
It’s also possible to expand the OnTask impact with webhooks. When activated during a workflow, your connected webhook will send an HTTP post payload to its configured URL containing all relevant workflow variables. If you’re interested in building your own webhooks with OnTask, follow these steps:
- Head to the Third Party Integrations page, select the Add New Integration dropdown menu, and then select Webhook.
- Choose a custom webhook name that’s easy to identify in your workflow.
- Input the Webhook URL of the server that will receive your webhook POST requests. This URL must start with either https:// or http://
- If desired, implement a webhook secret. This ensures that all POST requests sent to your payload URL are from OnTask by including the ontask-signature header in the webhook POST request.
You can also configure custom settings, such as the cancellation of workflows after webhook failure. By default, OnTask allows your workflow to proceed after three data send failures, but you can choose to fail the entire workflow if webhooks aren’t working properly to help address potential issues with configuration or connection settings.
Reeling in Relational Benefits
It’s also possible to deploy powerful OnTask webhooks in just a matter of minutes and without additional complexity or code by leveraging the reciprocal relationship between OnTask and industry leading software-to-software integration service Zapier.
Creating a webhook for OnTask in Zapier is simple. First, authenticate your OnTask and Webhooks by Zapier request. Then, select a trigger app for your automation and choose a resulting action from the connected app.
Finally, select the data you want to send from one app to another and your webhook is ready to go, giving you more time to focus on other tasks. Zapier and OnTask make it easy to define your trigger state — from initial workflow actions to specific event conditions — and pair them with common response actions including GET, PUT and POST requests.
OnTask streamlines document and form automation. Webhooks — either defined by OnTask directly or deployed through Zapier — help boost your speed by giving you the event-driven information you need, when you need it, without having to search for it. Catch critical details automatically with webhooks to quickly complete key tasks — and give your team more time to focus on what matters.