Skip to main content

Using Chat to Send SMS and Make Calls

Overview

In this guide, we will explore a simple IVR chat application that offers the user an option to send an SMS message or make a voice call directly from the browser by making use of our Browser SDK and our RELAY Realtime Server SDK.

917

Simple Chat IVR

Required Resources

The API also requires that you authenticate yourself using your Project ID, API Token, and Space URL. If you do not know where to find these values, check out our guide to Navigating your SignalWire Space!

How to Run the Application

The web chat application is built using Express. Express is a minimal and flexible Node.js web application framework that provides a robust set of features for web applications and mobile applications. To run this application, you must run the Express server locally with the following steps:

  • Clone project from the repo.
  • Run npm install.
  • In the project folder there is a .env.example file which you can use to create your .env file and replace the content with necessary credentials like we mentioned in the prerequisite section.
  • Start the server from your terminal with node index.js (or nodemon index.js if you have nodemon installed).

Code Walkthrough

This Guide is divided into two sections: the Frontend and the Backend. The Frontend includes all of the UI-related sections and the Javascript block of code needed for the chat application to work. The Backend section includes the code to generate the chat token and endpoints that the frontend will call to initiate phone calls and send messages.

The Frontend

Using the SignalWire Javascript SDK, you can easily integrate chat features into any web application. it only takes a few minutes to set up a basic example.

Please Note

This project is built on the code from the Simple Chat Demo. You should be familiar with the Chat features discussed in that guide before going through this guide.

Import the SDK

To build your own chat application, you first need to include the SDK in your HTML.

<!-- Import SignalWire library -->
<script src="https://unpkg.com/@signalwire/js@3.8.0"></script>

Then you can interact with the SDK using the global variable SignalWire. We'll mainly be interested in the SignalWire.Chat.Client class for this guide, but if you'd like to explore this API, feel free to browse the SDK documentation.

Getting a Chat Token

Tokens are provided to the client by your own custom server. Your server determines whether the user is actually authorized to access the chat and, if they are, asks SignalWire to emit a token. In the Backend section, we will see how to write such a server. For now, we will get a token from our local backend server with a POST request to the /get_chat_token endpoint which we will create later.

const reply = await axios.post("/get_chat_token", {
member_id: member,
channel: channel
})

const token = reply.data.token

The above endpoint takes member_id which is the name of the user joining the chat. The member_id is used to identify the user while using the chat application and is displayed on all Chat messages from the user. The channel parameter is to identify the Chat channel the user is joining so they can send new messages and see previous messages in the channel.

Initialize the Chat IVR

Once in the chat channel, the user can type start to initialize the IVR and display a menu to send an SMS message or make a voice call.

if (message.toLowerCase() === "start") {
await chatClient.publish({
channel: channel,
content: message
})
const introMessage = `
Enter 1 to send an SMS message
Enter 2 to make a Voice call
`
await chatClient.publish({
channel: channel,
content: introMessage
})
}

If the user types 1, the following snippet prompts for the user input needed to send the message.


if (message === "1") {
await chatClient.publish({
channel: channel,
content: message
})
selectionType = message

const messageSelection = `
\tYou selected Message\n
Enter the from, to and content parameter using the below format\n
(ex. +1aaabbbcccc,+1xxxyyyzzzz,"Hello world")
`
await chatClient.publish({
channel: channel,
content: messageSelection
})
}

If the user types 2, the following snippet prompts for the user input needed to initiate a phone call.


if (message === "2") {
selectionType = message

await chatClient.publish({
channel: channel,
content: message
})

const voiceSelection = `
\tYou selected a voice call\n
Enter the from, to, content parameter using the below format\n
(ex. +1aaabbbcccc,+1xxxyyyzzzz, "Welcome!")
`
await chatClient.publish({
channel: channel,
content: voiceSelection
})
}
Parameter Input

The data input value for each selection must be comma separated. For example, Messaging uses from,to,message while Voice uses from,to. In this demo, using the improper format will throw an error.

To process the data being sent, this snippet of code checks the selection type and then breaks the values into parameters to be passed to our server-side code.

if (selectionType === "1"){
let data = message.trim().split(",")
let from = data[0].trim()
let to = data[1].trim()
let content = data[2].trim()

await chatClient.publish({
channel: channel,
content: message
})

sendSWMessage(from, to, content, channel, chatClient)
}

A Voice selection works the same way in the snippet below. Note that we are also passing the chat channel and client to these functions so that we can send a confirmation message to the user via the chat IVR.

if (selectionType === "2"){

let data = message.trim().split(",")
let from = data[0].trim()
let to = data[1].trim()
let content = data[2].trim()

await chatClient.publish({
channel: channel,
content: message
})

makeCall(from, to, content, channel, chatClient)
}

In the full code, you will find the functions sendSWMessage and makeCall which take the necessary parameters to send a message and make a voice call and call the backend.

The Backend

The backend section consists of the endpoint needed to generate a chat token and the two endpoints to make calls and send SMS messages using the SignalWire RELAY Realtime SDK.

Import the SDK

First, we must import the necessary libraries and frameworks:

require("dotenv").config()

const auth = {
username: process.env.PROJECT_ID,
password: process.env.API_TOKEN
}

const apiUrl = `https://${process.env.SPACE_URL}`

const axios = require("axios")
const express = require("express")
const bodyParser = require("body-parser")
const cors = require("cors")
const {Voice, Messaging} = require("@signalwire/realtime-api")

Chat Token Endpoint

Below is a snippet used by our backend code to generate the Chat Token. For more information on this endpoint, see our technical reference.


app.post("/get_chat_token", async function (req, res) {
const {member_id, channel} = req.body
const channelsPerms = {}

channelsPerms[c] = {read: true, write: true}

const reply = await axios.post(apiUrl + "/api/chat/tokens", {
ttl: 50,
channels: channelsPerms,
member_id,
state: {}
}, {auth})

res.json({
token: reply.data.token
})
})

Voice Call Endpoint

This second endpoint initiates a phone call using the dialPhone method from the Realtime API Voice Client. The user's input is read over the voice call using text-to-speech technology and then the call is ended using the hangup method. for more information on the Call object, see the Voice technical reference.

// Endpoint to make the phone call
app.post("/make_call", async function (req, res) {
try {
const {from, to, content} = req.body
const call = await client.dialPhone({
from: from,
to: to,
content: content
})

let playback = await call.playTTS({text: content})

await playback.waitForEnded();

await call.hangup()

return res.json({"data": "Call initiated successfully"})

} catch (exception) {
console.log(exception)
console.log("Call not answered")
}

})

Messaging Endpoint

The last endpoint sends a message using the send method from the Realtime API Messaging Client. For more information on the Messaging client, you can visit the Messaging technical reference.

// Endpoint to send the message
app.post("/send_message", async function (req, res) {
try {
const {from, to, content} = req.body
const message = await messageClient.send({
from: from,
to: to,
body: content,
context: "user"
})
return res.json({data: message})

} catch (e) {
return res.json({data: e.message})
}
})

Wrap up

With this simple chat UI and three endpoints, we have built a simple IVR chat application that takes selections from users to either place a call or send an SMS message. The application of this demo is very flexible according to your needs. It could be incorporated into a portal to direct simple inquiries to the message system and more complex inquiries to the voice system. You might hard-code a recipient phone number so customers can send an SMS or voice call to use your service. The implementation is up to you, but the tools you need are laid out for you here.

Sign Up Here

If you would like to test this example out, you can create a SignalWire account and space.

Please feel free to reach out to us on our Community Slack or create a Support ticket from your SignalWire Space if you need guidance!