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Twilio SMS Ruby Quickstart

With just a few lines of code, your Ruby application can send and receive text messages with Twilio Programmable SMS.

This Ruby SMS Quickstart will teach you how to do this using our Communications REST API, the Twilio Ruby helper library, and Ruby’s Sinatra framework to ease development. If you prefer using Rails, check out this blog post.

In this Quickstart, you will learn how to:

1. Sign up for Twilio and get your first SMS-enabled Twilio phone number
2. Set up your development environment to send and receive messages
3. Send your first SMS
4. Receive inbound text messages
5. Reply to incoming messages with an SMS

Prefer to get started by watching a video? Check out our Ruby SMS Quickstart video on Youtube.

Show me how it's done!

Already have a Twilio account? 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 Mac OS X 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 we can install, we need to make sure you have Node.js installed (version 10.12 or above). To see if you have node installed, try running this command:

node -v

If your system reports v10.12.0 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.

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/v0.34.0/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.

No problem! Take me through the setup.

If you’ve gone through one of our other Ruby Quickstarts already and have Ruby and the Twilio Ruby helper library installed, you can skip this step and get straight to sending your first text message.

To send your first SMS, you’ll need to have Ruby and the Twilio Ruby helper library installed.

Install Ruby

If you’re using a Mac or Linux machine, you probably already have Ruby installed. You can check this by opening up a terminal and running the following command:

$ ruby --version

You should see something like:

ruby 2.4

Windows users can use RubyInstaller to install Ruby.

Twilio’s Ruby SDK is tested against and supports Ruby versions from 2.0.0 through 2.4.0. (Got an older version of Ruby? You can use RVM or Homebrew to upgrade to the minimum supported version.)

Install the Twilio Ruby Helper Library

The easiest way to install twilio-ruby is from RubyGems.

gem install twilio-ruby

Manual Installation

Or, you can clone the source code for twilio-ruby, and install the library from there.

"Permission Denied"

If the command line gives you a long error message that says Permission Denied in the middle of it, try running the above commands with sudo: sudo gem install twilio-ruby.

All set! Let's send a text message.

Send an outbound SMS with Ruby

Now that we have Ruby and twilio-ruby installed, we can send an outbound text message from the Twilio phone number we just purchased with a single API request. Create and open a new file called send_sms.rb and type or paste in this code sample.

        
        
        
        
        This code creates a new instance of the Message resource and sends an HTTP POST to the Messages resource URI.

        Send SMS using Twilio

        This code creates a new instance of the Message resource and sends an HTTP POST to the Messages resource URI.

        You’ll need to edit this file a little more before your message will send:

        Replace the placeholder credential values
        Swap the placeholder values for account_sid and auth_token with your personal Twilio credentials.

        Go to https://www.twilio.com/console and log in. On this page, you’ll find your unique Account SID and Auth Token, which you’ll need any time you send messages through the Twilio Client like this. You can reveal your auth token by clicking on 'view':

        console-project-auth-token.png

        Open send_sms.rb and replace the values for account_sid and auth_token with your unique values.

        Please note: it's okay to hardcode your credentials when getting started, but you should use environment variables to keep them secret before deploying to production. Check out how to set environment variables for more information.

        Replace the "from" phone number
        Remember that SMS-enabled phone number you bought just a few minutes ago? Go ahead and replace the existing from number with that one, making sure to use E.164 formatting:

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

        Replace the "to" phone number
        Replace the to phone number with your mobile phone number. This can be any phone number that can receive text messages, but it’s a good idea to test with your own phone to see the magic happen! As above, you should use E.164 formatting for this value.
        Save your changes and run this script from your terminal:

        ruby send_sms.rb

        That's it! In a few moments, you should receive an SMS from your Twilio number on your phone.

        Are your customers in the U.S. or Canada? You can also send them MMS messages by adding just one line of code. Check out this guide to sending MMS to see how it's done.

        If you are on a Twilio trial account, your outgoing SMS messages are limited to phone numbers that you have verified with Twilio. Phone numbers can be verified via your Twilio Console's Verified Caller IDs.

        I got the message! What's next?

        Install Sinatra and set up your development environment

        In order to receive and reply to incoming SMS messages, we'll need to create a very lightweight web application that can accept incoming requests. We'll use Sinatra for this Quickstart, but if you prefer to use Rails, you can find instructions in this blog post.

        First, you need a Gemfile with the following content on it.

        # Gemfile
        source 'https://rubygems.org'

        gem 'sinatra'
        gem 'twilio-ruby'

        Ruby projects use Bundler to manage dependencies, so the command to pull Sinatra and the Twilio SDK into our development environment is bundle install.

        bundle install
        ...
        Use `bundle show [gemname]` to see where a bundled gem is installed.

        Create a simple Sinatra application

        We can test that our development environment is configured correctly by creating a simple Sinatra application. Copy the following code and drop it in a new file called quickstart.rb:

        require 'sinatra'
        
        get '/' do
          "Hello World!"
        end
        

        We can then try running our new Sinatra application with the command ruby quickstart.rb. You can then open http://localhost:4567 in your browser and you should see a "Hello World!" message.

        I'm set up! Teach me how to receive messages!

        Receive and reply to inbound SMS messages with Sinatra

        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. Once you receive the request, you can tell Twilio to reply with an SMS, kick off a phone call, store details about the SMS in your database, or trigger something else entirely - it’s all up to you!

        For this quickstart, we’ll have our Sinatra app reply to incoming SMS messages with a thank you to the sender. Open up quickstart.rb again and update the code to look like this code sample:

              
              
              
              
              When your phone number receives an incoming message, Twilio will send an HTTP request to your server. This code shows how your server should respond to reply with a text message.

              Reply SMS using Twilio

              When your phone number receives an incoming message, Twilio will send an HTTP request to your server. This code shows how your server should respond to reply with a text message.

              Save the file and restart your app with

              ruby quickstart.rb
              Double-check that ngrok is still running on your localhost port. Now Twilio will be able to find your application - but first, we need to tell Twilio where to look.

              I'm getting excited now - let's connect our Ruby 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:4567/sms-quickstart"
              

              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 Sinatra dev server will note a new connection
              2. Twilio will forward your response back as an SMS!
              It worked! All done - what's next?

              Where to next?

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

              We 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 browsing the Twilio tag on Stack Overflow.

                    
                    
                    

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