Webhook vs API: Definitions, Differences & How To Use Each With Low-Code (2023)

Get ready to unlock the power of connecting different services together on the Web! We're going to dive into the exciting world of webhooks vs APIs, two different tools to make your automation dreams come true. We'll explore what they are, how they differ and give you real-life examples of how to create a webhook and API using Rowy, our low-code back-end platform.

What's A Webhook

A webhook allows applications to provide real-time information to each other using a simple HTTP callback for one application to send a message to another application.

For example, imagine you have an e-commerce website, and you want to send a notification to your CRM system whenever a new customer makes a purchase. You could use the new customer event to trigger a webhook to send a message to the CRM system containing the customer's information and the details of the purchase.

A webhook is a web server endpoint that listens for incoming HTTP requests and processes them:

router.post("/webhook", function myWebhook(req, res) {
  // process the request

You call webhooks with a simple HTTP request whenever a specific event occurs:

fetch("https://example.com/webhook", {
  method: "POST",
  body: JSON.stringify(data)

What's An API

A Web Application Programming Interface (API) is a collection of HTTP endpoints and methods used to communicate with a given software service. It's a way for one application to access the features of a web service.

In a blog CMS, you can use an API call to retrieve the list of blog articles and another API call to save content updates for example:

// Retrieve the list of blog articles
const articles = await fetch("https://example.com/api/articles")

Webhook vs API Use Cases

APIs are best used when you want to use the features of a third-party service: to retrieve data, perform actions, and integrate with other systems. As such, developers need to explicitly call them―unlike webhooks, which are triggered automatically.

Webhooks are event-driven APIs, best used when you want to send real-time information from one application to another when a particular event occurs. They are ideal for sending notifications, triggering cascading events, and updating information.

The two are closely linked: all webhooks are APIs, but not all APIs are webhooks. An API can trigger a webook, and a webhook can rely on APIs to perform actions. In general, we distinguish the two because their workflows are different, so they require different documentation and user interfaces.

How To Create A Webhook

It only takes a minute to create a webhook using Rowy. Once you have a table, you can simply click on the Webhooks icon and add a basic webhook:

Webhook modal 0.jpg

Rowy automatically generates a webhook URL for you. You can then use this URL to send a message to the webhook whenever a specific event occurs in your Rowy database:

Webhook endpoint URL 1.jpg

You can then configure your webhook logic by adding your own code in the Parser section:

Webhook parser function 2.jpg

Whenever you send a message to the webhook, Rowy will execute the code in the Parser section and return the result to the sender.

Webhook list 3.jpg

How To Create An API

Creating an API with Rowy is just as simple, but a little longer.

First, you'll need to create a new Rowy table containing the data you want to expose through the API. It includes selecting a data source, defining the table structure, and importing the sample data:

API table

You can then use the Firebase API to retrieve the data from the table. Rowy is a Firebase CMS, so all tables generate instant APIs you can use in other applications. For example, you can use the Firebase API to retrieve the list of documents from the table:

food list retrieved via API

Check out our dedicated article on creating your own API to learn more.

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In conclusion, webhooks and APIs are powerful technologies that can be used to connect different software systems together. By understanding the difference between webhooks and APIs, you can choose the right technology for your specific use case. With Rowy, creating a webhook or API is easy and fast.

If you have any questions, feel free to join our Discord community and ask us anything!

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