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Masked Phone Numbers with Ruby and Rails

This Ruby on Rails sample application is modeled after the amazing rental experience created by AirBnB, but with more Klingons.

Host users can offer rental properties which other guest users can reserve. The guest and the host can then anonymously communicate via a disposable Twilio phone number created just for a reservation. In this tutorial, we'll show you the key bits of code to make this work.

To run this sample app yourself, download the code and follow the instructions on GitHub.

Legal implications of managing communications between users

If you choose to manage communications between your users, including voice calls, text-based messages (e.g., SMS), and chat, you may need to comply with certain laws and regulations, including those regarding obtaining consent. Additional information regarding legal compliance considerations and best practices for using Twilio to manage and record communications between your users, such as when using Twilio Proxy, can be found here.

Notice: Twilio recommends that you consult with your legal counsel to make sure that you are complying with all applicable laws in connection with communications you record or store using Twilio.

Read how Lyft uses masked phone numbers to let customers securely contact drivers

Let's get started!

Create a reservation

The first step in connecting a guest and host is creating a reservation. Here, we handle a form submission for a new reservation which contains the guest's name and phone number.


        Reservation Creation Method


        Part of our reservation system is receiving reservation requests from potential renters. However, these reservations need to be confirmed. Let's see how we would handle this step.

        Confirm the Reservation

        Confirm the Reservation

        Before the reservation is finalized, the host needs to confirm that the property is still available. Learn how to automate this process in our first AirTNG tutorial, Workflow Automation.

        Once the reservation is confirmed, we need to create a Twilio number that the guest and host can use to communicate in the provision_phone_number method.


              Confirm Reservation Method


              Once the reservation is confirmed, we need to purchase a Twilio number that the guest and host can use to communicate.

              Purchase a Twilio Number

              Purchase a Twilio Number

              Here we use a Twilio REST API Client to search for and buy a new phone number to associate with the reservation. When we buy the number, we designate a Twilio application that will handle webhook requests when the new number receives an incoming call or text.

              We then save the new phone number on our Reservation model, so when our app receives calls or texts to this number, we'll know which reservation the call or text belongs to.


                    Provision Phone Number Method


                    Now that each reservation has a Twilio Phone Number, we can see how the application will look up reservations as guest or host calls come in.

                    Find a reservation when a guest or host calls

                    Find a reservation when a guest or host calls

                    In our controller, we create a filter which gets executed every time Twilio asks our application how to handle an incoming call or text. This filter finds and stores the correct reservation (the one associated with the anonymous number) as an instance variable that will be used as we connect the guest and host via voice or SMS.


                          Find a Reservation


                          Next, let's see how to connect the guest and the host via SMS.

                          Connect the Guest and the Host via SMS

                          Connect the Guest and the Host via SMS

                          Our Twilio application should be configured to send HTTP requests to this controller method on any incoming text message. Our app responds with TwiML to tell Twilio what to do in response to the message.

                          If the initial message sent to the anonymous number was made by the host, we forward it on to the guest. But if the message was sent by the guest, we forward it to the host.


                                Connect Via SMS


                                Let's see how to connect the guest and the host via phone call next.

                                Connect the Guest and Host via Phone Call

                                Connect the Guest and Host via Phone Call

                                Our Twilio application will send HTTP requests to this method on any incoming voice call. Our app responds with TwiML instructions that tell Twilio to Play an introductory MP3 audio file and then Dial either the guest or host, depending on who initiated the call.


                                      Connect Via Phone Call


                                      That's it! We've just implemented anonymous communications that allow your customers to connect while protecting their privacy with the help of the Twilio Ruby Helper Library.

                                      Where to Next?

                                      Where to Next?

                                      If you're a Ruby developer working with Twilio, you might want to check out these other tutorials.

                                      Part 1 of this Tutorial: Workflow Automation

                                      Increase your rate of response by automating the workflows that are key to your business.

                                      Appointment Reminders

                                      Send your customers a text message when they have an upcoming appointment - this tutorial shows you how to do it from a background job.

                                      Did this help?

                                      Thanks for checking out this tutorial! If you have any feedback to share with us, we'd love to hear it. Tweet @twilio to let us know what you think.

                                      Jarod Reyes Hector Ortega David Prothero Kat King Andrew Baker Jose Oliveros
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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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