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ETA Notifications with Ruby and Rails

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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 working? Notifying customers when things change.

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

In this tutorial, we'll build a notification system for a fake on-demand laundry service Laundr.io using Ruby on Rails.

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

Let's Add ETA Notifications!

Trigger the Notifications

There are two cases we'd like to handle:

  1. Delivery person picks up laundry to be delivered ( /initial_notifications )
  2. Delivery person is arriving at the customer's house ( /delivery_notifications )

In a production app we would probably trigger the second notification when the delivery person was physically near the customer, using GPS.

(In this case we'll just use a button.)

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      app/controllers/orders_controller.rb

      Trigger a customer notification

      app/controllers/orders_controller.rb

      Let's look at using the Ruby Twilio REST API Client to actually send out the notifications.

      Check Out the Client

      Set up the Twilio REST Client

      Here we create a helper class with an authenticated 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:

      console credentials

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          lib/message_sender.rb

          Set up the Twilio REST Client

          lib/message_sender.rb

          Next up: how we handle notification triggers.

          Handle the Notification Triggers

          Handle a Notification Trigger

          This code handles the HTTP POST requests triggered by the delivery person.

          It uses our MessageSender class to send an SMS message to the customer's phone number, which we have registered in our database. Simple!

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              app/controllers/orders_controller.rb

              Handle a notification trigger

              app/controllers/orders_controller.rb

              Next, let's look closer at how we push out the SMSes.

              Next

              Send an SMS (or MMS)

              Here we demonstrate how we actually send the SMS.

              Picture worth 1,000 words? We can add a picture of the laundry by adding:

              media_url: "http://lorempixel.com/image_output/fashion-q-c-640-480-1.jpg"
              

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

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                  lib/message_sender.rb

                  Message status updates are interesting - let's look there next.

                  Show Me Status Update Handling

                  Handle a Callback from Twilio

                  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 notification_status on the Order and let the business logic take over. This is a great place to add logic that would resend the message if it failed or send out an automated survey soon after a customer receives his or her clothes.

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                      app/controllers/orders_controller.rb

                      Update Order notification_status after a Twilio Callback

                      app/controllers/orders_controller.rb

                      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 that you might want to add to your application.

                      What Else Can I Build?

                      Where to next?

                      We've got lots of Ruby and Rails content here on the Docs site. Sadly, we wanted to cut it down - here are just two other excellent tutorials you might enjoy:

                      Workflow Automation with Ruby and Rails

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

                      Masked Phone Numbers with Ruby and Rails

                      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.

                      Mario Celi Jose Oliveros Jennifer Aprahamian Agustin Camino Paul Kamp Andrew Baker  Kat King

                      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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