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The Owl’s Nest: Inside Twilio

  • By Michael Wong
    Chaos Engineering at Twilio with Ratequeue HA Chaos engineering sign

    Twilio engineers are constantly working on improving our core services to meet or exceed 5 nines of availability. A system’s capacity for self-healing when a fault occurs is a key measure of achieving high availability. Recently, Twilio used Chaos Engineering to close the gap and eliminate the need for human intervention for common faults involving our core queueing-and-rate-limiting system, Ratequeue.


    Twilio empowers customers to make 100’s of concurrent API requests. However, your messages may be unexpectedly rate-limited, such as carrier regulations (US long codes), contractual limitations (US short codes), or technological (e.g. capacity). As a safeguard, Twilio automatically queues outbound messages for delivery. Each Twilio phone number gets a separate queue and messages are dequeued at rate depending on the contract.


    Ratequeue is an internally-developed distributed queueing system designed for simultaneously rate-limiting dequeue rates for many ephemeral queues. Each sender ID (e.g. phone number, short code, Alphanumeric …

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  • By David Prothero
    Building TwilioQuest with Twilio Sync, Django, and Vue.js c5hfRvo7c0uOc8yzOOv2V7AJ7PYHWMriz-rfGO0AqeYREEdzwH5ZRTXuMpB6NhDLIPAp81Buw2uly8Z8cuYW1JXz52mazdUvztg24LoyjAt-RaUK_1_o6LxRSSGH2_9OjkOnNIQd

    TwilioQuest is our developer training curriculum disguised as a retro-style video game. While you learn valuable skills for your day job, you get to earn XP and wacky loot to equip on your 8-bit avatar.

    Today we’ll pull back the curtain and show the code that the Developer Education team wrote to create TwilioQuest.

    Meet Wagtail, a Python & Django Based CMS

    TwilioQuest is full of content. A lot of content.

    There are missions for nearly all of Twilio’s products, with each mission containing many different objectives. To manage all this content, we needed a content management system (CMS). Luckily, the Twilio documentation site is built on a Python & Django-based CMS called Wagtail, so we already had a tool we were familiar with and ready to build on.

    We did have a few experienced Python & Django developers on the team, but others were completely new to the …

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  • By Marcos Placona
    My SIGNAL London 2017 Schedule SIGNAL London 2017

    In just under a week we will be hosting SIGNAL London for the second time with even more talks, hands-on learning, live demos and the first ever European $BASH.

    Every single one of the talks at SIGNAL London has been carefully selected, here’s the full schedule. But if I were to choose, these are the talks that I’m personally most excited about:

    [11:15] Sharpening my tools

    We all know how important 2FA is to keep all your logins and data secure. With most 2FA being done via SMS messages, hackers a few months ago managed to use an exploit on the SS7 Network to hack a bank. In his session, B. Byrne will talk about this vulnerability and ways to improve an SMS integration to make it work best for 2FA.

    [11:55] Serverless is all the rage

    Back at SIGNAL SF 2017, we announced Functions that let you …

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  • By Emily Emery
    Best Practices for Responding to Government Requests for Information true-admin

    Twice a year, Twilio publishes a transparency report to inform our community of how many government requests for information we received, how we responded to the requests, and how we notified the affected users. You can find Twilio’s reports, including the one for the First Half of 2017, on our website and on Github.

    When viewed across industries, transparency reports provide insight on important public policy considerations around civil rights, data privacy and public safety.  A prime example of this is how companies, including Twilio, discuss the privacy and free speech concerns caused by National Security Letters.

    In accordance with the USA Freedom Act of 2015, the US Department of Justice has recently notified some companies that the nondisclosure order on some National Security Letters they received had expired. As a result, some companies were able to confirm that they had in fact received National Security Letters over a …

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  • By Andres Krogh
    Compiling Creativity DAoa1yAW0AAF7Jh

    Yesterday, during SIGNAL’s Day 1 keynote, you heard about our philosophy on code here at Twilio. We believe code is — at its core — a creative endeavor. It’s the act of a human using tools to amplify their intent and potential.

    Three years ago we rebooted Twiliocon to SIGNAL. We wanted to bring this new idea to life with all of you, the intrepid developers we serve. You build businesses. And change industries. You inspire movements. You save lives. You amplify the impact you can have on the world.

    This morning we opened the show with the John Brothers Piano Company – a group of Computer Science majors turned jazz quartet. Tonight at $BASH, we’ve got some interactive art installations that we think you’re going to love.

    We have the good fortune of a front-row seat to what you create.

    What Happens When You Let Thousands of Developers Hack …

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  • By Kyle Kelly-Yahner
    Teaching A Developer To Fish…Kind Of SIGNALFeatured

    You’re new to the whole coding thing. You land on an API’s website and click through to get started. You’ve got some code examples, but no idea where to put the code or how to make it do the thing you want it to.

    You’ve essentially got a fishing pole, you want to grab some fish, but have no idea where the nearest fishing hole is. This is a problem that plagues the tech field. It’s a problem Kyle Woumn & Malika Nikhmonova are trying to solve.

    In their SIGNAL session, these two software engineers will walk through the steps they’ve taken to get users to the proverbial fishing hole — shipping the app.

    Malika and Kyle have focused on tailoring users experience around a use case, for example, appointment reminders. Having a fixed point on the development horizon helps users stay focused and reach their goal.

    But, it takes …

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  • By Kyle Kelly-Yahner
    An API By Any Other Name logo

    The Twilio you know could have been easily been a pig-themed API.

    Jeff Lawson bought Twilio.com for $7 in 2007. But Twilio was of many options on a name-storming sheet that Jeff sent to co-founder John Wolthuis.


    Let’s peek into the lives Twilio could’ve had. We’ll see where these domains are now.

    • TPhoney.com – This is now the home of Taylor Pass Honey, a New Zealand based honey manufacturer.
    • PHISM.com  – Nearly 10 years later, this is still taken, but on the market for the right price.
    • Teldigo.com – Send us the best pitch for what this website should be and we’ll give you 30% off a SIGNAL ticket.
    • Teldash.com – Someone in Lelystad, Netherlands owns this domain. If you’re cruising through Lelystad, they apparently have a replica of the infamous 17th century ship, Batavia.
    • Temphis.com – If you need some employee scheduling solutions, apparently Temphis can offer you …
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  • By Marcos Placona
    Ahoy! Get your boss on board SIGNAL London ZJyT9G8vTJZiZsFO5XlDJQZVZqwzzL70ItC9Z8e3MXxr4Tfho8a52idlIbSq761Ce-14eFwX0NbwnW8WhVbNQSGdvL-HljKvCx0HpwIofL-2sdR9_tw9ifZSvJFowSch2h173bY0

    In just under 5 weeks on September 20th we’ll bring SIGNAL to London for its first European chapter.

    Last week, Phil talked about why he’s excited about SIGNAL London and mentioned some of the amazing talks we will have that day.

    Now, I know I’ve said this before but some bosses just need a little convincing before they can make a decision whether they should send you to a conference or not.

    So here are three reasons why your boss should send you along with all the other developers at your company.

    At SIGNAL London you will:

    1. Learn best practices directly from other developers like you
    2. Discover new technologies and tools
    3. Add voice, video, messaging, and chat to your tool belt

    But that’s not all. We also have business content so even if you’re not a full-time developer you will still benefit and:

    1. Hear from companies like ServiceNow, ING, Google …
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  • By Dominik Kundel
    Introducing Twilio Developer Evangelist Dominik Kundel jacobsHack! 2015 Team

    “Hey! This is the greatest event of my life!”.

    We were at the first public edition of jacobsHack!, a hackathon I co-founded, and the feedback came from one of the attendees who had just started as a freshman at Jacobs University in Germany. Hearing this from a freshman after months of hard work and being completely sleep deprived was the most rewarding feedback I could ever expect. But let me give you a quick recap of how I ended up in that moment.

    From design to hacking

    Being fascinated by computers and technology my whole life, I knew I wanted to study something with technology.  This led me to study Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Jacobs where I got introduced to their CS club. One of their first meetings I attended was an introduction to JavaScript workshop.

    Coming from a design background, learning to code was addictive …

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  • By Greg Baugues
    Where Do Text Messages Come From? StorkSMS.png.001

    “…and when you click “SEND”, the API Stork scoops up your text message in its beak and flies a great distance to drop the message off to your recipient.”

    That doesn’t seem accurate. To get to the bottom of where texts come from we talked to Ben Stein, who is the man leading the messaging team here at Twilio. He sorted out the stork debate.

    Listen to our interview with Ben Stein below
    or find the Twilio Radio podcast on iTunes.


    Why are you such a fan of SMS?

    There’s so many things that point to SMS as not being a great way to communicate, but it turned out to be the most popular form of communication on the planet. It’s the only app that’s installed on every single phone ever. Email is not installed on every phone, but SMS is.

    And there’s something about short messaging and the ability …

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