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Programmable Messaging PHP Quickstart without Composer

In just a few lines of code, your PHP application can send, receive, and reply to text messages with Twilio Programmable SMS.

This PHP SMS Quickstart shows you how to use our Communications REST API, the Twilio PHP helper library, and the Twilio CLI. We'll install all dependencies manually without using a package manager.

We highly recommend trying Composer for package and dependency management in your PHP web applications. If interested, try our standard PHP SMS Quickstart.

In this quickstart, you'll learn how to:

  1. Sign up for Twilio and purchase an SMS-enabled phone number
  2. Check and install any prerequisites manually
  3. Send your first SMS
  4. Set up your development environment to send and receive messages
  5. Receive inbound text messages
  6. Reply to incoming messages with a return SMS
Let's do it – show me how!

Sign up for (or sign in to) Twilio and find a phone number

Already have a Twilio account and SMS-capable number? Go ahead and skip this section.

You can sign up for a free Twilio trial account here.

  • When you sign up, you'll be asked to verify your personal phone number. This helps Twilio verify your identity and also allows you to send test messages to your phone from your Twilio account while in trial mode.
  • Once you verify your number, you'll be asked a series of questions to customize your experience.
  • Once you finish the onboarding flow, you'll arrive at your project dashboard in the Twilio Console. This is where you'll be able to access your Account SID, authentication token, find a Twilio phone number, and more.
I've got an account! What's next?

Install the Twilio CLI

We'll need to use the Twilio CLI (command line interface) for a few tasks, so let's install that next.

One of the easiest ways to install the CLI on macOS is to use Homebrew. If you don't already have it installed, visit the Homebrew site for installation instructions and then return here.

Once Homebrew is installed, simply run the following command to install the CLI:

brew tap twilio/brew && brew install twilio

Updating

If you already installed the CLI with brew and want to upgrade to the latest version, run:

brew upgrade twilio

Warning for Node.js developers

If you have installed Node.js version 10.12 or higher on your Mac, you can avoid potential Node.js version conflicts by installing the CLI using npm:

npm install twilio-cli -g

Before You Begin

Before we can install, we need to make sure you have Node.js installed (version 12.21 or above). To see if you have node installed, try running this command:

node -v

If your system reports v12.21 or above, you can skip the next step.

Installing Node.js on Windows

Using the Windows Installer (.msi) is the recommended way to install Node.js on Windows. You can download the installer from the Node.js download page.

Run PowerShell as an administrator, and type the following command:

Set-ExecutionPolicy Bypass -Scope Process

You should see the following output:

Execution Policy Change
The execution policy helps protect you from scripts that you do not trust. Changing the execution policy might expose
you to the security risks described in the about_Execution_Policies help topic at
https:/go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=135170. Do you want to change the execution policy?
[Y] Yes  [A] Yes to All  [N] No  [L] No to All  [S] Suspend  [?] Help (default is "N"):

Enter Y to confirm the change.

Note you will have to set this execution policy every time you run PowerShell. See notes on Set-ExecutionPolicy to learn more.

Tested Windows Versions

These instructions have been tested on the following Windows versions:

  • Windows 10 Pro
  • Windows Server 2016

Installing Twilio CLI

The CLI is installed with npm (Node Package Manager), which comes with Node.js. To install the CLI run the following command:

npm install twilio-cli -g

Note the -g option is what installs the command globally so you can run it from anywhere in your system.

Updating

If you already installed the CLI with npm and want to upgrade to the latest version, run:

npm install twilio-cli@latest -g

Before we can install, we need to make sure you have Node.js installed (version 10.12 or above). Even if you already installed Node yourself, the CLI works best when you install it using nvm. Here's how to get nvm installed on most Linux systems:

curl -o- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/nvm-sh/nvm/master/install.sh | bash

Please visit the nvm installation instructions for additional options and troubleshooting steps. Once you have nvm installed, run the following to install and use the most recent LTS release of Node.js:

nvm install --lts
nvm use <insert version reported from above>

Installing other Twilio CLI prerequisites for Linux

Depending on your distribution, you will need to run one of the following commands:

  • Debian/Ubuntu: sudo apt-get install libsecret-1-dev
  • Red Hat-based: sudo yum install libsecret-devel
  • Arch Linux: sudo pacman -S libsecret

Installing Twilio CLI

The CLI is installed with npm (Node Package Manager), which comes with Node.js. To install the CLI run the following command:

npm install twilio-cli -g

Note the -g option is what installs the command globally so you can run it from anywhere in your system.

Updating

If you already installed the CLI with npm and want to upgrade to the latest version, run:

npm install twilio-cli@latest -g

Run twilio login to get the Twilio CLI connected to your account. Visit https://www.twilio.com/console, and you’ll find your unique Account SID and Auth Token to provide to the CLI.

You can reveal your auth token by clicking on the eyeball icon:

Reveal Your Auth Token

Now to get a phone number...

Get a phone number

If you don't currently own a Twilio phone number with SMS functionality, you'll need to purchase one. With the CLI, run:

twilio phone-numbers:buy:local --country-code US --sms-enabled

Replace US with your ISO-3166-1 country code if you would like a phone number in another country. If you aren't finding any SMS enabled numbers, try looking for a mobile number instead of a local number: twilio phone-numbers:buy:mobile --country-code DE --sms-enabled

Select a phone number to add it to your account.

Next, we need to install PHP and the Twilio PHP Helper Library.

Sounds excellent! Take me through the install.

Install PHP and the Twilio PHP Helper Library

If you already have PHP and the Twilio PHP Helper Library installed in your working directory, feel free to skip this step and move on to sending your first text message.

To send your first SMS, let's make sure you're set up with PHP and able to install Twilio's PHP Helper library. This quickstart will show you how to install packages manually.

When doing web development in PHP, we strongly suggest using Composer for package management. You can try the standard PHP SMS Quickstart if interested.

Install PHP

If you’re using a Mac or *nix machine, you may have PHP already installed. In your favorite terminal, run:

php --version

If not installed, follow the PHP installation instructions.

If you're using a Windows machine, follow the official PHP tutorial to install PHP.

Many versions of PHP 5.x and PHP 7.x will work for this quickstart, but please pay careful attention to supported PHP releases. Always update your un-supported versions when doing web development as older versions will not receive security updates.

Install the Twilio PHP Helper Library

You'll need to install the Twilio PHP Helper Library in the directory where you will complete the quickstart.

  1. Create a new project directory, or navigate to your project's working directory.
  2. In that directory, download the most recent version of the Twilio PHP Helper Library from Github.
  3. Unzip the PHP helper library in the directory.
I've finished with the prerequisites! Let's send some SMS...

Send an outbound SMS with PHP

Now that we have PHP and twilio-php-main installed manually, we can make a single API request and send an outbound text message from a Twilio phone number.

Create and open a new file called send_sms.php and type or paste in this code sample:

        
        
        
        Send an outbound SMS using PHP and the Twilio PHP Helper Library installed without Composer.

        Send an SMS with PHP

        Send an outbound SMS using PHP and the Twilio PHP Helper Library installed without Composer.

        Replace the placeholder Twilio credentials

        In the code, switch the placeholders in account_sid and auth_token with your Twilio credentials. Visit https://www.twilio.com/console to find your unique Account SID and Auth Token to substitute.

        Reveal your auth token by clicking 'view':

        View your authentication token in the Twilio console

        Replace the value for account_sid and auth_token with your unique values.

        Note: While it's easy to hardcode your credentials in a file for a quickstart, use environment variables to keep them secret in production. Check out how to set environment variables for more information, and see the code comments for an example of how to read them in PHP. This repo is also an excellent resource for dealing with environment variables.

        Replace the 'twilio_number'

        Earlier, you purchased an SMS-enabled phone number. Paste that number into the twilio_number variable using E.164 formatting:

        [+][country code][phone number including area code]

        For example, +18005551212.

        Replace the 'To' number in the create() call

        The first value in the API call to create() is the outgoing phone number, currently set to +15558675310. This can be any phone number that can receive texts... but use a number you control to witness the magic! As above, use E.164 formatting for this number.

        Save the file then run the script:

        php send_sms.php

        Assuming all the values are correct, you should already see the SMS from your Twilio number on your phone!

        If you are on a Twilio Trial account, your SMS messages are limited to phone numbers that you have verified with Twilio. You can verify phone numbers via the Twilio Console's Verified Caller IDs.

        Are your customers in the U.S. or Canada? You can also send MMS messages by adding just a single line of code. Check out this guide to sending MMS to see how.

        That SMS was incredible! What’s next?

        Receive and reply to inbound SMS messages with PHP

        When someone sends an SMS to your Twilio phone number, Twilio makes an HTTP request to your server asking for instructions on what to do next. For this quickstart, we’ll reply to the sender with a note about how we're sending our SMS reply.

        We'll again use the Twilio PHP Library, then use PHP's built-in development webserver in combination with a tool called ngrok to instruct Twilio how to handle the message. Create a new file reply_sms.php in the same directory as send_sms.php, open it, then copy and paste or type the following code.

        (Note: if you do not use the same directory, please follow the PHP Helper Library install step above)

              
              
              
              Reply to an inbound SMS using the Twilio PHP Helper Library installed manually and TwiML.

              Reply to a SMS Using PHP

              Reply to an inbound SMS using the Twilio PHP Helper Library installed manually and TwiML.

              Save the file, then start the PHP development server with:

              php -S localhost:8000

              In your favorite browser, open the URL http://localhost:8000/reply_sms.php.

              If all went smoothly, you should see XML in your browser with our message. And, yes, that's all the code needed - there are just a few more steps before everything is ready to go. Next, let's expose this endpoint to Twilio.

              I'm getting excited now - let's connect PHP to Twilio!

              Configure your Webhook URL

              Now, you need to configure your Twilio phone number to call your webhook URL whenever a new message comes in. Just run this CLI command, replacing the phone number with your Twilio phone number:

              twilio phone-numbers:update "+15017122661" --sms-url="http://localhost:8000/reply_sms.php"

              The CLI will start an ngrok tunnel (so Twilio can reach your development machine) and wait patiently for incoming text messages!

              Test your application with a text

              Now that everything is glued together, it's time to test.

              Send a text message from your mobile phone to your Twilio phone number. You'll see a couple of things happen very quickly -

              1. Your PHP dev server will note a new connection
              2. Twilio will forward your response back as an SMS!
              It worked, nice! What's next?

              Where to next?

              Now that you know the basics of sending and receiving SMS and MMS text messages with PHP, you might want to check out these resources.

              We hope you enjoyed the quickstart, and definitely can't wait to see what you build!

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              Need some help?

              We all do sometimes; code is hard. Get help now from our support team, or lean on the wisdom of the crowd by visiting Twilio's Community Forums or browsing the Twilio tag on Stack Overflow.

                    
                    
                    

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