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Programmable Chat Quickstart: Javascript

The Twilio Conversations API is now Generally Available! We recommend using Conversations to build your chat application to get access to additional channels and even more functionality.

In this guide, we will get you up and running quickly with a sample chat application you can build on as you learn more about Programmable Chat. Sound like a plan? Then let's get cracking!

Gather account information

The first thing we need to do is grab all the necessary information from our Twilio account. To set up our back-end for Chat, we will need four values from our account:

Config Values Description
Service Instance SID A service instance where all the data for our application is stored and scoped. Generate one in the console here.
Account SID Your primary Twilio account identifier - find this in the console here.
API Key Used to authenticate - generate one here.
API Secret Used to authenticate - just like the above, you'll get one here.

Download, configure, and run the starter app

Choose a download package for your server-side language of choice. If you're primarily a front-end developer and don't have a strong preference, Node.js will probably get you up and running the fastest.

Follow the instructions in the README for each starter application to configure and run it on your machine, using the four values we created above:

Explore the starter app

This is where the fun begins! When you visit the homepage of the starter application, verify that everything looks good with your settings, and then click the green chat button at the bottom.

You have been assigned a random user identity and have joined a channel called general. If you open this page in another browser window or tab, you should be able to have a rousing conversation with yourself!

The HTML and CSS in the starter application aren't terribly interesting, but the JavaScript code driving this application has a few very important jobs:

  1. Fetch an AccessToken from the server via Ajax
  2. Initialize the Chat JavaScript SDK
  3. Join a channel called "general"
  4. Handle UI events to send messages or display new incoming messages

We explore how to manage your users in our user identity guide, how to generate an access token, and cover everything you can do with a channel object in the channels and messages guide.

Get Help

Need some extra help? Send us a note at help@twilio.com, and we'll make sure to get you running just as quick as we can. Have fun building with Chat, and make sure to let us know what you're building!

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