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ETA Notifications with Node.js and Express

Companies like Uber, TaskRabbit, and Instacart have built an entire industry around the fact that we, the customers, like to order things instantly wherever we are.

The key to those services? Instant customer notifications when something changes.

Uber relies on Twilio SMS to keep customers up to date on their ridesharing requests. Learn more here.

On this tutorial we'll build a notification system for a fake on-demand laundry service in Node.js and Express.

Let's get started! Click the below button to begin.

Let's Add ETA Notifications!

Trigger the Notifications

This delivery driver's screen will show two buttons that allow him or her to trigger notifications: one for picking up an order and one for delivering it. Those buttons will be wired to the appropriate route:

  1. Delivery person picks up laundry to be delivered ( /pickup )
  2. Delivery person arrives at the customer's house ( /deliver )

On a production app we would probably trigger the second notification when the delivery person was physically near the customer using GPS. (In this case a button will suffice.)


        Trigger ETA Notifications in Node.js and Express


        On the server we'll use the Twilio REST API Client to actually send out the notifications. Let's go there next.


        Setting Up the Twilio REST Client

        Here we create a Twilio REST API client that we can use anytime we need to send a text message.

        We initialize it with our Twilio Account Credentials stored as environment variables. You can find the Auth Token and Account SID in the console:

        Account Credentials


              Set Up the Twilio REST Client


              On deck: how we handle notification triggers.

              Let's Handle Notification Triggers

              Handle a Notification Trigger

              This code demonstrates how to handle a HTTP POST request triggered by the delivery person.

              It uses the sendSmsNotification method of our Order model to send an SMS message to the customer's phone number (which we have registered in our database). Simple!


                    Send an SMS to the customer


                    Next, let's take a closer look at how we send the SMS.

                    Simply Send Some SMSes

                    Sending the Message

                    Here we demonstrate actually sending the SMS.

                    Picture worth 1,000 words? Improve the message by adding some optional media with mediaUrl:

                    'mediaUrl' : ''

                    In addition to the required parameters (and optional media), we can pass a statusCallback url to let us know if the message was delivered.


                          Using Twilio Node client to send the SMS


                          Status updates on message delivery is interesting - let's look there next.


                          Handle an Incoming Twilio Callback

                          Twilio will make a POST request to this controller each time our message status changes to one of the following: queued, failed, sent, delivered, or undelivered.

                          We then update this notificationStatus on the Order and business logic dictates what we'd do next. This is an excellent place to add logic that would resend the message if it failed, or send out an automated survey after the customer receives their clothes and a delivery SMS.


                                Handle an incoming Twilio message status update


                                That's all, folks! We've just implemented an on-demand notification service that alerts our customers when their order is picked up or arriving.

                                Now let's look at other features Twilio makes it easy to implement.

                                What Else Can I Build?

                                Where to next?

                                Node and Twilio are like two peas in a pod. Here are some other tutorials where we demonstrate interesting features:

                                Workflow Automation

                                Increase your rate of response by automating the workflows that are key to your business. In this tutorial you will learn how to build a ready-for-scale automated SMS workflow for a vacation rental company.

                                Masked Numbers

                                Protect your users' privacy by anonymously connecting them with Twilio Voice and SMS. Learn how to create disposable phone numbers on-demand so two users can communicate without exchanging personal information.

                                Did this help?

                                Thanks for checking this tutorial out! Let us know what you've built - or what you're building - on Twitter.

                                Kat King Phil Nash Andrew Baker Jose Oliveros Paul Kamp Stephanie Marchante
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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 Stack Overflow Collective or browsing the Twilio tag on Stack Overflow.


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