Depending on how long you've been developing software, you may remember the days when single applications handled all facets of functionality, such as authenticating users, sending emails to users, and processing payments. Of course, as the internet has matured, it is now much more common for applications to "outsource" a lot of these functions to other software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies. For example, an application might use MailChimp to manage correspondence with users. MailChimp, in turn, provides several APIs with which the application can integrate. Furthermore, many of these SaaS companies also provide webhooks. What is a webhook, you ask? Well, in plain English, it is simply a way for one system to talk to another system when a specific event occurs. This is accomplished by a HTTP request that is automatically triggered when a certain event happens. Returning to our MailChimp example, MailChimp offers webhooks that notify an application that uses their service when an email has been opened. You can read more about it here. Pretty cool, right?
I’m guessing that your application already consumes webhooks from other services, similar to the MailChimp example described above. Additionally, if you have an application that other services rely on, maybe you've considered adding webhooks. Neither setting up infrastructure to consume webhooks nor sending hooks to users is a trivial exercise, so luckily, a number of companies have cropped up offering "webhooks as a service" -- providing a simple to use platform to quickly get up and running with webhooks. In this post, I’ll highlight several of these companies and discussing which might be the best fit for you or your business.
Things to Consider
When determining what service might be best for you, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Inbound or outbound - What is more important? Do you critically rely on webhooks from a variety of providers, or do you provide an API but have users who are clamoring for webhooks? Later in this post, we will highlight the best options for both of these use cases. Eventually, you may need both, but at an early stage, it might be more important to prioritize one or the other first. Some companies, such as HookRelay, offer both inbound and outbound support, whereas others, like Octohook, focus only on inbound.
- Features - What features are most important to your use case, and which company best services these needs?
- Budget - Of course, pricing is important! How much money are you able or willing to spend, and which company offers the most competitive pricing structure that meets your needs? Almost all companies highlighted below offer a free tier that will allow you to try out the service, but from there, the pricing varies.
- Documentation/Support - How much documentation and support is available? How well known is the product? For example, can you find support outside of what the company itself provides via other users, blog posts, social media, conference talks, YouTube, etc.?
- Security - Whether consuming or sending, it will be important to determine how much security you and your company require. For example, do you need SOC or GDPR compliance?
Before we dive into the different options, you might be asking yourself, what is the difference between a webhooks SaaS company and, for example, Zapier or Integromat? The difference is that the latter are automation tools that help connect services together, whereas the companies discussed below are platforms that allow your application to either consume or send webhook events. In fact, some of the webhook companies integrate with Zapier, such as Svix. You can read more about their integration with Zapier here.
- Inbound, Outbound, or Both: Both.
- Pricing: Offers three tiers, including a free forever tier that allows for 100 deliveries per day, 14-day retention, and three endpoints. For $30/month, you get 10,000 deliveries/day, a 30-day data retention period, and 30 hook endpoints. Finally, for $90/month, you get 30,000 deliveries/day, a 90-day data retention period, and 90 hook endpoints, plus custom domains.
- Key Features: Quick setup, allows webhooks to be re-sent, delivery results are recorded, retries can be setup with backoff periods, ability to utilize background jobs.
- Documentation/Support: The docs are straightforward and easy to follow. However, the company is fairly new and still in active development, so finding support outside of the HookRelay team might be difficult.
- Security: Protects against server side request forgery (SSRF).
- Inbound, Outbound, or Both: Inbound.
- Pricing: Offers two tiers, including a free forever tier that allows for three sources, 30 webhooks per source, and one destination per source. Because the company is new, as of this writing, they're offering a $50/month launch discount on their second tier (normally $100/month) that allows for 10 sources, 10,000 webhooks per source, 10 destinations per source, and unlimited team members. Note: If you subscribe to the $50/month plan now, your pricing will never increase; you will be grandfathered in. Octohook also offers a 10% discount for yearly subscriptions.
- Key Features: Forward your webhooks anywhere, setup custom workflows, the UI appears to be very straightforward.
- Documentation/Support: The company is very new and recently launched on Product Hunt. I couldn't find any public docs, so it might be somewhat more difficult to get started. They do have a brief video on YouTube that provides a product demo.
- Security: I couldn't find anything on their public site that discusses the security of data.
- Inbound, Outbound, or Both: Outbound.
- Pricing: Offers four tiers, including one free tier that offers 50,000 messages, up to 10 messages per second, and a limited retry schedule. The "starter" tier is $10/month and includes 100,000 messages + $0.0001/additional message, up to 200 messages per second, an uptime SLA of 99.9%, and a full retry schedule. The business tier includes 1,500,000 messages + $0.0001/additional message, up to 800 messages per second, an uptime SLA of 99.99%, static source Ips, and business support. Svix also offers an "enterprise" custom tier, similar to others that includes unlimited messages, unlimited messages per second, an uptime SLA of 99.999%, and enterprise support -- You'll need to call for pricing.
- Key Features: Customizable app portal for your customers, CLI, retries, and a test "sandbox."
- Documentation/Support: The online docs are very thorough, and there is a Slack community specifically for their customers.
- Security: SOC 2 Type II certified; GDPR and CCPA ready.
- Inbound, Outbound, or Both: Outbound.
- Pricing: Three tiers, including a free tier that provides the first 10,000 webhook attempts for free, unlimited client endpoints, unlimited subscribers, and access to the subscriber portal and API. The next tier is based on attempts -- the price is $1 per 1,000 webhook attempts and includes unlimited client endpoints, unlimited subscribers, advanced reporting, and access to the subscriber portal and API. This is one of the few companies that offer this type of "scalable" pricing. The company also promotes an "enterprise" level tier that does not list a price, but indicates it would be custom and include live support, hands-on training, and project services.
- Key Features: "Smart retries" with exponential back-offs and offers a branded portal with custom subdomain for subscribers; users also have access to mock payloads and logs. HostedHook also offers endpoint version control, which allows subscribers to upgrade without compatibility issues.
- Documentation/Support: The API docs and developer resources are relatively thorough. The company is also fairly new (launched in April 2021), so like some of the other options, it might be difficult to find detailed support outside of the company’s published docs.
- Security: All webhooks are SSL-secured and contain signing secrets to prevent replay, forgery, and man-in-the-middle attacks.
- Inbound, Outbound, or Both: Inbound.
- Pricing: Four tiers, including a free tier that offers 100K requests and 100K attempts per month. It only includes one user but provides three-day retention, permanent URLs, and unlimited connections. For $39/month, the number of requests and attempts jumps to 1M plus $0.25/100K for requests and $1/100K for attempts, as well as unlimited user seats and seven-day retention. For $179/month, you also are allocated 1M requests (+ $0.25/100K) and 1M attempts, but the pricing is decreased slightly to $0.75/100K. Your retention period jumps up to 14 days, and apparently, there are also performance increases. HookDeck also has a "Enterprise" option for bigger companies looking for unlimited retention, custom throughput, priority support, and additional security and compliance, but pricing varies. HookDeck has one of the better pricing pages, indicating which features each tier includes clearly mapped out.
- Key Features: CLI, an event dashboard and other reporting, custom alerts, bulk and automatic retries, pausing capabilities, ability to integrate with your CI/CD workflows, and ability to send webhooks to multiple destinations.
- Documentation/Support: The documentation provided on the website is thorough. There are separate sections for initial setup, how to utilize their CLI, their API, and additional use case/feature product guides.
- Security: All tiers include GDPR, CCPA, and PIDEDA data compliance. Team tiers include multifactor authentication. Enterprise supports single sign-on and granular roles/user permissions.
- Inbound, Outbound, or Both: Inbound.
- Pricing: Offers four tiers, including one free tier that includes secure webhooks, up to two destinations, up to one bi-directional tunnel, and email support. The standard tier is $40/month and includes custom subdomains, white-label domains, up to three members and a "generous webhook quota". The business tier is $80/month and includes 50 destinations, long logs retention policy, and dedicated support. Finally, the "pro" plan offers support for 200 destinations, one million webhooks per month, managed wildcard certificates, and dedicated support.
- Key Features: Webhook Relay is for webhook forwarding and bi-directional tunneling. Webhook forwarding allows your company to receive webhooks from various products, and then "bucket" these webhooks to ultimately disseminate to different destinations based on the criteria you select. Tunnels enable bi-directional connections running on your computer or on a private network; this can be helpful if you need remote access to an IoT device or access to an internal cloud service while avoiding IP and domain allocation.
- Documentation/Support: The docs online are well organized and pretty thorough. There are plenty of examples of how to utilize different use cases.
- Security: Webhook Relay has a specific part of their docs dedicated to security.
The concept of "webhooks-as-a-service" is still a relatively new industry, and a lot of the companies discussed above are all relatively new. The good news is that almost all of the options have a free tier that allows you to try them out before committing, so I recommend giving all of your top choices a go. Similar to other decisions you've likely had to make (e.g., who to utilize for source control and CI/CD, error monitoring), once you've made a choice, there is an opportunity cost to switching. Therefore, it is best to make the most informed decision as possible. Some of the services, like Octohook, are very new, so there is the risk that the company folds, whereas Svix is quite established and has a few noteworthy customers, such as Brex and Lob.
The bottom line is that if you have customers who utilize/integrate with your software, investing in building a strong webhooks platform is important, and utilizing one of the companies above can allow your engineering teams to focus on other areas of your product. Good luck, and happy hooking! :)