Workflow Automation with Node.js and Express
One of the more abstract concepts you'll handle when building your business is what the workflow will look like.
At its core, setting up a standardized workflow is about enabling your service providers (agents, hosts, customer service reps, administrators, and the rest of the gang) to better serve your customers.
To illustrate a very real-world example, today we'll build a Node.js and Express webapp for finding and booking vacation properties — tentatively called Airtng.
Here's how it'll work:
- A host creates a vacation property listing
- A guest requests a reservation for a property
- The host receives an SMS notifying them of the reservation request. The host can either Accept or Reject the reservation
- The guest is notified whether a request was rejected or accepted
Learn how Airbnb used Twilio SMS to streamline the rental experience for 60M+ travelers around the world.
Workflow Building Blocks
We'll be using the Twilio REST API to send our users messages at important junctures. Here's a bit more on our API:
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Authenticate Our Users
For this workflow to work, we need to handle user authentication. We're going to rely on Passport for Node.js.
User will need to have a
countryCode and a
phoneNumber which will be required to send SMS notifications later.
Next let's model the vacation properties.
Vacation Property Model
In order to build our rentals company we'll need a way to create the property listings.
Property belongs to the
User who created it (we'll call this user the host moving forward) and contains only two properties: a
description and an
Next up, the reservation model.
Reservation model is at the center of the workflow for this application.
It is responsible for keeping track of:
guestwho performed the reservation
vacation_propertythe guest is requesting (and associated host)
statusof the reservation:
Next, let's look at triggering the creation of a new reservation.
Create a Reservation
The reservation creation form holds only a single field field: the message that will be sent to the host when reserving one of her properties. The rest of the information necessary to create a reservation is taken from the vacation property.
A reservation is created with a default status
pending, so when the host replies with an
reject response our application knows which reservation to update.
In the next step, we'll take a look at how the SMS notification is sent to the host when the reservation is created.
Notify The Host
When a reservation is created, we want to notify the owner of said property that someone has made a reservation.
This is where we use Twilio Node Helper Library to send an SMS message to the host, using our Twilio phone number. As you can see, sending SMS messages using Twilio is just a few lines of code.
Now we just have to wait for the host to send an SMS response accepting or rejecting the reservation so we can notify the guest and host that the reservation information is updated.
The next step shows how to handle and configure the host's SMS response.
Handle Incoming Messages
reservations/handle endpoint handles our incoming Twilio request and does three things:
- Checks for a pending reservation from the incoming user.
- Updates the status of the reservation.
- Responds to the host and sends notification to the guest.
Set Up Twilio Webhooks
In the Twilio console, you should change the 'A Message Comes In' webhook to call your application's endpoint in the route
One way to expose your machine to the world during development is to use ngrok. Your URL for the SMS web hook on your phone number should look something like this:
An incoming request from Twilio comes with some helpful including the
From phone number and the message
We'll use the
From parameter to lookup the host and check if she has any pending reservations. If she does, we'll use the message body to check if she accepted or rejected the reservation.
In the last step, we'll use Twilio's TwiML and instruct Twilio to send SMS messages to the guest.
After updating the reservation status, we must notify the host that he/she has successfully confirmed or rejected the reservation. If no reservation is found, we send an error message instead.
If a reservation is confirmed or rejected we send an additional SMS to the guest to pass along the news.
We use the verb Message from TwiML to instruct Twilio's server that it should send SMS messages.
And that's a wrap! Next let's take a look at other features you might enjoy in your application.
Where to Next?
Node.js goes great with a helping of Twilio... let us prove it:
Easily route callers to the right people and information with an IVR (interactive voice response) system.
Instantly collect structured data from your users with a survey conducted over a voice call or SMS text messages.
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