Webhooks to BigQuery

This page provides you with instructions on how to extract data from Webhooks and load it into Google BigQuery. (If this manual process sounds onerous, check out Stitch, which can do all the heavy lifting for you in just a few clicks.)

What are webhooks?

A webhook is a way for one application to provide other applications with real-time information. Webhooks send data through user-defined HTTP POST callbacks, which means an application that uses webhooks can POST data when an event occurs to a specified endpoint (web address).

What is Google BigQuery?

Google BigQuery is a data warehouse that delivers super-fast results from SQL queries, which it accomplishes using a powerful engine dubbed Dremel. With BigQuery, there's no spinning up (and down) clusters of machines as you work with your data. With that said, it's clear why some claim that BigQuery prioritizes querying over administration. It's super fast, and that's the reason why most folks use it.

Getting data out of webhooks

Different applications have different ways to set up webhooks. Often, you can use a management console to define the webhook and specify the endpoint to which you want data delivered. You must make sure that the specified endpoint exists on your server.

What does webhook data look like?

Webhooks post data to your specified endpoints in JSON format. It's up to you to parse the JSON objects and decide how to load them into your data warehouse.

Loading data into Google BigQuery

Google Cloud Platform offers a helpful guide you can follow to begin loading data into BigQuery. Use the bq command-line tool, and in particular the bq load command, to upload files to your datasets. The syntax is documented in the Quickstart guide for bq. You can supply the table or partition schema, or, for supported data formats, you can use schema auto-detection. Iterate through this process as many times as it takes to load all of your tables into BigQuery.

Keeping data from webhooks up to date

Once you've set up the webhooks you want and have begun collecting data, you can relax – as long as everything continues to work correctly. You have to keep an eye on any changes your applications make to the data they deliver. You should also watch out for cases where your script doesn't recognize a new data type. And since you'll be responsible for maintaining your script, every time your users want slightly different information, you'll have to modify the script.

Other data warehouse options

BigQuery is great, but sometimes you need to optimize for different things when you're choosing a data warehouse. Some folks choose to go with Amazon Redshift, PostgreSQL, or Snowflake, which are RDBMSes that use similar SQL syntax, or Panoply, which works with Redshift instances. If you're interested in seeing the relevant steps for loading data into one of these platforms, check out To Redshift, To Postgres, To Snowflake, and To Panoply.

Easier and faster alternatives

If all this sounds a bit overwhelming, don’t be alarmed. If you have all the skills necessary to go through this process, chances are building and maintaining a script like this isn’t a very high-leverage use of your time.

Thankfully, products like Stitch were built to solve this problem automatically. With just a few clicks, Stitch starts extracting your Webhooks data via the API, structuring it in a way that is optimized for analysis, and inserting that data into your Google BigQuery data warehouse.