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Webhooks Now Available for SharePoint Online Developers

Microsoft this week announced that a webhooks developer capability for SharePoint Online is now ready for commercial use by developers.

The capability, previewed back in September, has reached "general availability" status for SharePoint Online, according to Mike Ammerlaan of the Office ecosystem marketing team, in a Microsoft Tech Community post. Microsoft also made this announcement via its Office Dev Center, a repository of documents and code resources, although Microsoft now seems to be using it for product announcements, too.

Microsoft's roadmap outlined back in May had predicted that SharePoint webhooks would reach general availability by the end of 2016, so Microsoft seems to be sticking fairly close to schedule.

Webhooks are custom callbacks that use the HTTP protocol. Developers can use webhooks to get notified of events happening with SharePoint Lists, such as when items get added, updated, deleted or moved. Developers can write code to execute based on those callback events.

"As changes happen in SharePoint, calls are made to the developers' service, and they can then react to those changes with code," the Office Dev Center post explained. "Webhooks also work well with services built using recently-released Azure technologies, such as Azure Functions. All told, with the webhooks/Azure Functions combination, it's never been simpler to set up a lightweight service that reacts to changes in SharePoint."

Microsoft also supports this sort of callback approach for SharePoint via Windows Communication Foundation services using SharePoint Add-ins. Microsoft refers to this approach used with SharePoint add-ins as "remote event receivers." However, the use of webhooks is considered to be an easier callback approach for developers because of its Web API use, according to Microsoft's "Overview of SharePoint Webhooks" document.

Microsoft had indicated back in September that it won't be getting rid of remote event receivers for SharePoint Add-ins because they're still a viable solution for developers handling "synchronous events."

"We will continue to support remote event receivers in addition to webhooks, so that developers can choose the technologies most relevant to them," Microsoft indicated in a September Office Dev Center post. "While webhooks are fairly simple to use and feature robust retry logic, there are some use cases for event receivers: specifically, remote event receivers support synchronous events that occur as users update items."

Microsoft is expected to roll out improvements to SharePoint Add-ins, too, sometime in the first half of this year. At least that's how it appeared on a "SharePoint Product Roadmap" slide shared by Mark Kashman, a senior product manager on Microsoft's SharePoint team, in an October presentation.

Microsoft did not announce webhooks support for use with its SharePoint Server 2016 product, which gets housed in an organization's datacenters. However, such support is under consideration.

"We are looking into providing Webhooks with on-premises [SharePoint Server 2016] as well, but no exact schedule at this point," stated Vesa Juvonen, a senior program manager on Microsoft's SharePoint team. He made that comment in Microsoft's September Office Dev Center post.

Microsoft's new mechanism for bringing some of its Office 365 and SharePoint Online improvements down to SharePoint Server 2016 users is to deliver the improvements via so-called "Feature Packs," although Microsoft has explained that not all of its cloud-based service features will be available via the packs. Microsoft delivered its first such Feature Pack for SharePoint Server 2016 back in November.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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