Chat with iOS and Swift
Programmable Chat has been deprecated and is no longer supported. Instead, we'll be focusing on the next generation of chat: Twilio Conversations. Find out more about the EOL process here.
If you're starting a new project, please visit the Conversations Docs to begin. If you've already built on Programmable Chat, please visit our Migration Guide to learn about how to switch.
Ready to implement a chat application using Twilio Chat Client? Here is how it works at a high level:
- Programmable Chat is the core product we'll be using to handle all the chat functionality.
- We use a server side app to generate user access tokens which contains all your Twilio account information. The Programmable Chat Client uses this token to connect with the API.
Properati built a web and mobile messaging app to help real estate buyers and sellers connect in real time. Learn more here.
For your convenience, we consolidated the source code for this tutorial in a single GitHub repository. Feel free to clone it and tweak as required.
Initialize the Programmable Chat Client
The only thing you need to create a client is an access token. This token holds information about your Twilio account and Programmable Chat API keys. We have created a web version of Twilio chat in different languages. You can use any of these to generate the token:
You will need to setup your access token URL in the Keys.plist file in the resources folder. The default is http://localhost:8000/token - you may need to change this. For instance, if you set up the Node.js version of the chat server (listed above) - this URL would be http://localhost:3000/token
Now it's time to synchronize your Twilio Client.
Synchronize the Programmable Chat Client
synchronizationStatusChanged delegate method will allow us to know when the client has loaded all the required information. You can change the default initialization values for the client using a TwilioChatClientProperties instance as the
options parameter in the previews step.
We need the client to be synchronized before trying to get the channel list (next step). Otherwise, calling client.channelsList() will return
We've initialized the Programmable Chat Client, now lets get a list of channels.
Get the Channel List
ChannelManager class takes care of everything related to channels. In the previous step, we waited for the client to synchronize channel information, and assigned an instance of TCHChannels to our
ChannelManager. Now we must get an actual array of channels using the
Let's see how we can listen to events from the chat client so we can update our app's state.
Listen to Client Events
The Programmable Chat Client will trigger events such as
channelDeleted on our application. Given the creation or deletion of a channel, we'll reload the channel list in the reveal controller. If a channel is deleted and we were currently joined to that channel, the application will automatically join the general channel.
ChannelManager is a
TwilioChatClientDelegate. In this class we implement the delegate methods, but we also allow
MenuViewController class to be a delegate of ChannelManager, so it can listen to client events too.
Next, we need a default channel.
Join the General Channel
This application will try to join a channel called "General Channel" when it starts. If the channel doesn't exist, it'll create one with that name. The scope of this example application will show you how to work only with public channels, but the Programmable Chat client allows you to create private channels and handle invitations.
Once you have joined a channel, you can register a class as the
TCHChannelDelegate so you can start listening to events such as
memberJoined. We'll show you how to do this in the next step.
Now let's listen for some channel events.
Listen to Channel Events
MainChatViewController as the
TCHChannelDelegate, and here we implemented the following methods that listen to channel events:
messageAdded: When someone sends a message to the channel you are connected to.
channelDeleted: When someone deletes a channel.
memberJoined: When someone joins the channel.
memberLeft: When someone leaves the channel.
synchronizationStatusChanged: When channel synchronization status changes.
As you may have noticed, each one of these methods include useful objects as parameters. One example is the actual message that was added to the channel.
We've actually got a real chat app going here, but let's make it more interesting with multiple channels.
Join Other Channels
The application uses SWRevealViewController to show a sidebar that contains a list of the channels created for that Twilio account.
When you tap on the name of a channel from the sidebar, that channel is set on the
joinChannel method takes care of joining to the selected channel and loading the messages.
If we can join other channels, we'll need some way for a super user to create new channels (and delete old ones).
Create a Channel
We use an input dialog so the user can type the name of the new channel. The only restriction here is that the user can't create a channel called "General Channel". Other than that, creating a channel is as simple as calling
createChannel and passing a dictionary with the new channel information.
Cool, we now know how to create a channel, let's say that we created a lot of channels by mistake. In that case, it would be useful to be able to delete those unnecessary channels. That's our next step!
Delete a Channel
Deleting a channel is easier than creating one. We'll use the
UITableView ability to delete a cell. Once you have figured out what channel is meant to be deleted (from the selected cell index path), deleting it is as simple as calling the channel's method
That's it! We've built an iOS application with Swift. Now you are more than prepared to set up your own chat application.
Where to Next?
If you are an iOS developer working with Twilio, you might want to check out this other project:
Twilio Notifications for iOS Quickstart using Swift
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