14
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11
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2023
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2014
Ruby on Rails
Backend

Text messaging with textris gem

Karol Słuszniak
Ruby Developer

Recently, I've had to hook text messaging into one of our apps. After a quick review of existing solutions, I've found nothing that would meet some of my needs, so I've decided to create a new gem for it.

Prerequisites

When I look for new gems, I try to find those which meet some basic requirements like having clear usage info in Readme, having at least a few tests and, perhaps the most important one, with code that gives good initial impression.

In addition, for this project I needed SMS text messaging solution that would have some particular features:

  • treat internatioal phone numbers in predictable manner, regardless of SMS service
  • play well with Rails conventions (i.e. work analogously to ActionMailer)
  • support sidekiq background jobs for fast server response
  • allow fast & easy change of service that is used for sending SMSes
  • somehow allow storing and inspecting messages sent both in development and in production
  • obviously, allow setting all settings mentioned above per-environment

As you can guess, textris meets all these requirements and more. You can find the gem on GitHub and RubyGems.

Example

I'm not going to repeat the feature list or usage info here, so instead I'll just show a step-by-step guide to using textris with existing Rails app.

The Case

Let's say you have an app with user authentication and accompanying password reset functionality. Users are registered with either e-mail or phone as login field and you want to send password reset SMS for users that don't have e-mail filled yet. You want to use sidekiq for password reset experience to be fast & nice. In production, you want to use Twilio as SMS gateway and store Mailinator copies of SMSes. This feature is really important for the client and she wants to investigate SMSes you app sends without your actions (like you looking into server logs).

Step 1: Switching between mailer and texter

I'm not going to describe how to do a 2-field authentication or how to hack devise (or whatever preposterous gem you use for auth) for described scenario. I'll leave this funny part up to you. Let's assume the password reset mailer gets invoked in PasswordResetsController:

class PasswordResetsController
  def create
    user = User.find_by!(:email => params[:email])

    PasswordResetMailer.reset_password(user).deliver
  end
end

Let's extend it like this:

user = User.find_by!('email = :value OR phone = :value', :value => params[:email_or_phone])

if user.email.present?
  PasswordResetMailer.reset_password(user).deliver
else
  PasswordResetTexter.reset_password(user).deliver
end

Step 2: Texter itself

Nice, but what is PasswordResetTexter in code above? Let's add it as app/texters/password_reset_texter.rb:

class PasswordResetTexter < Textris::Base
  default :from => "Our Team"

  def reset_password(user)
    @user = user

    text :to => @user.phone
  end
end

And a template at app/views/password_reset_texter/reset_password.text.erb:

Password reset for <%= @user.name %> was requested. 

In order to reset password go to <%= edit_password_reset_url(:token => @user.password_reset_token) %>

The template is kept short on purpose. You can use newlines to enhance template readibility - they'll be cut out anyway in order to form proper SMS string.

At this point, you can invoke password reset on user without e-mail in development and see SMS event in logs. You can also extend your test suite with scenario for such case using the deliveries textris attribute.

Step 3: In the background

We would be done, but the whimsical client wanted it fast and mailinated. So let's take care of the sidekiq delay first:

# before
PasswordResetTexter.reset_password(user).deliver
# after
PasswordResetTexter.delay.reset_password(user)

Note that passing user as sidekiq job argument is possible thanks to custom ActiveRecord serialization built into textris. UPDATE: Rails 4.2 update introduced ActiveJob and Global ID that provide standarized way of job delaying and ActiveRecord object passing to workers. Next release of textris is expected to have these features integrated.

Step 4: With an e-mail backup

E-mail delivery is preconfigured to send to Mailinator address based on target phone number. This won't work for us if we want to pass single e-mail to client and be done with it, so let's change the e-mail target template in production.rb:

config.textris_mail_to_template = 'dear-client-use-this-address@mailinator.com'

Now however we don't show the target phone number anywhere. Let's show it in e-mail subject:

config.textris_mail_subject_template = 'Password reset sent to %{to_phone:p}'

Remember to configure and enable Twilio as only mail delivery is on by default in production:

config.textris_delivery_method = [:twilio, :mail, :log]

Final note

That's it! Hope you liked the gem and I'd really like to see textris extended with additional delivery services - that's why there is a relevant chapter in Readme. See you on github.

Karol Słuszniak
Ruby Developer

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