Employee Directory with Python and Flask

Learn how to implement an employee directory that you can query using SMS. Request information from anyone at your company just by sending a text message to a Twilio Number

Here is how it works at a high level:

  • The user sends a SMS with an Employee's name to the Twilio number.
  • The user receives information for the requested Employee.

Handle Twilio's SMS Request

When your Twilio Number receives an SMS, Twilio will make a POST request to /directory/search asking for TwiML instructions.

Once the application identifies one of the 3 possible scenarios (single partial match, multiple partial match or no match), it will send a TwiML response to Twilio. This response will instruct Twilio to send an SMS Message back to the user.

Loading Code Samples...
Language
from flask import request, session
from . import app
from .models import Employee
from twilio.twiml.messaging_response import (
    MessagingResponse,
    Message,
    Body,
    Media
)

NOT_FOUND_MESSAGE = "We did not find the employee you're looking for"


@app.route('/directory/search', methods=['POST'])
def search():
    query = request.form['Body']

    if _is_choice_answer(query):
        return _send_selected_employee(query)

    employees = list(Employee.query.filter(Employee.full_name.contains(query)))
    if len(employees) == 1:
        return _send_single_result(employees)
    elif len(employees) > 1:
        return _send_multiple_results(employees)
    else:
        return _send_not_found()


def _send_not_found():
    response = MessagingResponse()
    response.message(NOT_FOUND_MESSAGE)
    return str(response)


def _send_single_result(employees):
    response = MessagingResponse()
    employee = employees[0]
    employee_data = '\n'.join([employee.full_name,
                               employee.phone_number,
                               employee.email])
    message = Message()
    message.append(Body(employee_data))
    message.append(Media(employee.image_url))
    return str(response.append(message))


def _is_choice_answer(query):
    choices = session.get('choices', [])
    if query.isdigit():
        query = int(query)
        return (query-1) in range(len(choices))
    return False


def _send_selected_employee(query):
    name = session['choices'][int(query)-1]
    employees = Employee.query.filter_by(full_name=name)
    return _send_single_result(employees)


def _send_multiple_results(employees):
    names = [employee.full_name for employee in employees]
    session['choices'] = names
    response = MessagingResponse()
    message = ["We found multiple people, reply with:"]
    for i, name in enumerate(names, 1):
        message.append("%s for %s" % (i, name))
    message.append("Or start over")
    response.message('\n'.join(message))
    return str(response)
employee_directory_flask/views.py
Employee lookup routes

employee_directory_flask/views.py

Let's take a closer look at each one of the scenarios.

Single Employee Match

This is the simplest scenario. We'll verify that only 1 match is obtained. If a single match is found, a message containing this employee's information is built and sent to Twilio as TwiML instructions.

Loading Code Samples...
Language
from flask import request, session
from . import app
from .models import Employee
from twilio.twiml.messaging_response import (
    MessagingResponse,
    Message,
    Body,
    Media
)

NOT_FOUND_MESSAGE = "We did not find the employee you're looking for"


@app.route('/directory/search', methods=['POST'])
def search():
    query = request.form['Body']

    if _is_choice_answer(query):
        return _send_selected_employee(query)

    employees = list(Employee.query.filter(Employee.full_name.contains(query)))
    if len(employees) == 1:
        return _send_single_result(employees)
    elif len(employees) > 1:
        return _send_multiple_results(employees)
    else:
        return _send_not_found()


def _send_not_found():
    response = MessagingResponse()
    response.message(NOT_FOUND_MESSAGE)
    return str(response)


def _send_single_result(employees):
    response = MessagingResponse()
    employee = employees[0]
    employee_data = '\n'.join([employee.full_name,
                               employee.phone_number,
                               employee.email])
    message = Message()
    message.append(Body(employee_data))
    message.append(Media(employee.image_url))
    return str(response.append(message))


def _is_choice_answer(query):
    choices = session.get('choices', [])
    if query.isdigit():
        query = int(query)
        return (query-1) in range(len(choices))
    return False


def _send_selected_employee(query):
    name = session['choices'][int(query)-1]
    employees = Employee.query.filter_by(full_name=name)
    return _send_single_result(employees)


def _send_multiple_results(employees):
    names = [employee.full_name for employee in employees]
    session['choices'] = names
    response = MessagingResponse()
    message = ["We found multiple people, reply with:"]
    for i, name in enumerate(names, 1):
        message.append("%s for %s" % (i, name))
    message.append("Or start over")
    response.message('\n'.join(message))
    return str(response)
employee_directory_flask/views.py
Single employee result

employee_directory_flask/views.py

If multiple matches are found we'll try to do a multiple partial match. That is our next possible scenario.

Multiple Employee Matches

At this point we have already tried to use the user's query as a single partial match. Now we'll try to get a partial match that returns more than one result. We'll use Twilio Cookies to store suggestions. The only difference here is that we use a list to store suggestions. This way the user can reply with a number that references one of the suggestions in order to get the employee's information. The way this information is stored will be explained on the next step.

The last scenario is simple. If none of the previous scenarios occur, it means that there is no employee in the database that matches the user's query. In that case, a reply will be sent to the user explaining that their query doesn't match any of the employees found on the database.

Loading Code Samples...
Language
from flask import request, session
from . import app
from .models import Employee
from twilio.twiml.messaging_response import (
    MessagingResponse,
    Message,
    Body,
    Media
)

NOT_FOUND_MESSAGE = "We did not find the employee you're looking for"


@app.route('/directory/search', methods=['POST'])
def search():
    query = request.form['Body']

    if _is_choice_answer(query):
        return _send_selected_employee(query)

    employees = list(Employee.query.filter(Employee.full_name.contains(query)))
    if len(employees) == 1:
        return _send_single_result(employees)
    elif len(employees) > 1:
        return _send_multiple_results(employees)
    else:
        return _send_not_found()


def _send_not_found():
    response = MessagingResponse()
    response.message(NOT_FOUND_MESSAGE)
    return str(response)


def _send_single_result(employees):
    response = MessagingResponse()
    employee = employees[0]
    employee_data = '\n'.join([employee.full_name,
                               employee.phone_number,
                               employee.email])
    message = Message()
    message.append(Body(employee_data))
    message.append(Media(employee.image_url))
    return str(response.append(message))


def _is_choice_answer(query):
    choices = session.get('choices', [])
    if query.isdigit():
        query = int(query)
        return (query-1) in range(len(choices))
    return False


def _send_selected_employee(query):
    name = session['choices'][int(query)-1]
    employees = Employee.query.filter_by(full_name=name)
    return _send_single_result(employees)


def _send_multiple_results(employees):
    names = [employee.full_name for employee in employees]
    session['choices'] = names
    response = MessagingResponse()
    message = ["We found multiple people, reply with:"]
    for i, name in enumerate(names, 1):
        message.append("%s for %s" % (i, name))
    message.append("Or start over")
    response.message('\n'.join(message))
    return str(response)
employee_directory_flask/views.py
Return list of employees

employee_directory_flask/views.py

Next, we'll see how we use cookies in Flask to cache search suggestions.

Store Suggestions With Cookies

When a user gets a partial match by searching the employee directory, we reply with one or more suggestions. We need to store these suggestions, so the next time the user sends an SMS we know this is not a query for a new employee, but a selection of one of the suggestions.

We'll use Twilio Cookies and a Flask Session to store suggestions. They will allow you to keep track of an SMS conversation between multiple numbers and your Twilio powered application.

Loading Code Samples...
Language
from flask import request, session
from . import app
from .models import Employee
from twilio.twiml.messaging_response import (
    MessagingResponse,
    Message,
    Body,
    Media
)

NOT_FOUND_MESSAGE = "We did not find the employee you're looking for"


@app.route('/directory/search', methods=['POST'])
def search():
    query = request.form['Body']

    if _is_choice_answer(query):
        return _send_selected_employee(query)

    employees = list(Employee.query.filter(Employee.full_name.contains(query)))
    if len(employees) == 1:
        return _send_single_result(employees)
    elif len(employees) > 1:
        return _send_multiple_results(employees)
    else:
        return _send_not_found()


def _send_not_found():
    response = MessagingResponse()
    response.message(NOT_FOUND_MESSAGE)
    return str(response)


def _send_single_result(employees):
    response = MessagingResponse()
    employee = employees[0]
    employee_data = '\n'.join([employee.full_name,
                               employee.phone_number,
                               employee.email])
    message = Message()
    message.append(Body(employee_data))
    message.append(Media(employee.image_url))
    return str(response.append(message))


def _is_choice_answer(query):
    choices = session.get('choices', [])
    if query.isdigit():
        query = int(query)
        return (query-1) in range(len(choices))
    return False


def _send_selected_employee(query):
    name = session['choices'][int(query)-1]
    employees = Employee.query.filter_by(full_name=name)
    return _send_single_result(employees)


def _send_multiple_results(employees):
    names = [employee.full_name for employee in employees]
    session['choices'] = names
    response = MessagingResponse()
    message = ["We found multiple people, reply with:"]
    for i, name in enumerate(names, 1):
        message.append("%s for %s" % (i, name))
    message.append("Or start over")
    response.message('\n'.join(message))
    return str(response)
employee_directory_flask/views.py
Store employee names in Flask session

employee_directory_flask/views.py

That's it! We have just implemented employee directory using Flask. Now you can get your employee's information by texting a Twilio number.

Where to next?

If you're a Python developer working with Twilio, you might also enjoy these tutorials:

Automated-Survey

Instantly collect structured data from your users with a survey conducted over a call or SMS text messages. Let's get started!

ETA-Notifications

Learn how to implement ETA Notifications using Flask and Twilio.

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!

Jose Oliveros
Samuel Mendes
David Prothero
Agustin Camino

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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Loading Code Samples...
from flask import request, session
from . import app
from .models import Employee
from twilio.twiml.messaging_response import (
    MessagingResponse,
    Message,
    Body,
    Media
)

NOT_FOUND_MESSAGE = "We did not find the employee you're looking for"


@app.route('/directory/search', methods=['POST'])
def search():
    query = request.form['Body']

    if _is_choice_answer(query):
        return _send_selected_employee(query)

    employees = list(Employee.query.filter(Employee.full_name.contains(query)))
    if len(employees) == 1:
        return _send_single_result(employees)
    elif len(employees) > 1:
        return _send_multiple_results(employees)
    else:
        return _send_not_found()


def _send_not_found():
    response = MessagingResponse()
    response.message(NOT_FOUND_MESSAGE)
    return str(response)


def _send_single_result(employees):
    response = MessagingResponse()
    employee = employees[0]
    employee_data = '\n'.join([employee.full_name,
                               employee.phone_number,
                               employee.email])
    message = Message()
    message.append(Body(employee_data))
    message.append(Media(employee.image_url))
    return str(response.append(message))


def _is_choice_answer(query):
    choices = session.get('choices', [])
    if query.isdigit():
        query = int(query)
        return (query-1) in range(len(choices))
    return False


def _send_selected_employee(query):
    name = session['choices'][int(query)-1]
    employees = Employee.query.filter_by(full_name=name)
    return _send_single_result(employees)


def _send_multiple_results(employees):
    names = [employee.full_name for employee in employees]
    session['choices'] = names
    response = MessagingResponse()
    message = ["We found multiple people, reply with:"]
    for i, name in enumerate(names, 1):
        message.append("%s for %s" % (i, name))
    message.append("Or start over")
    response.message('\n'.join(message))
    return str(response)
from flask import request, session
from . import app
from .models import Employee
from twilio.twiml.messaging_response import (
    MessagingResponse,
    Message,
    Body,
    Media
)

NOT_FOUND_MESSAGE = "We did not find the employee you're looking for"


@app.route('/directory/search', methods=['POST'])
def search():
    query = request.form['Body']

    if _is_choice_answer(query):
        return _send_selected_employee(query)

    employees = list(Employee.query.filter(Employee.full_name.contains(query)))
    if len(employees) == 1:
        return _send_single_result(employees)
    elif len(employees) > 1:
        return _send_multiple_results(employees)
    else:
        return _send_not_found()


def _send_not_found():
    response = MessagingResponse()
    response.message(NOT_FOUND_MESSAGE)
    return str(response)


def _send_single_result(employees):
    response = MessagingResponse()
    employee = employees[0]
    employee_data = '\n'.join([employee.full_name,
                               employee.phone_number,
                               employee.email])
    message = Message()
    message.append(Body(employee_data))
    message.append(Media(employee.image_url))
    return str(response.append(message))


def _is_choice_answer(query):
    choices = session.get('choices', [])
    if query.isdigit():
        query = int(query)
        return (query-1) in range(len(choices))
    return False


def _send_selected_employee(query):
    name = session['choices'][int(query)-1]
    employees = Employee.query.filter_by(full_name=name)
    return _send_single_result(employees)


def _send_multiple_results(employees):
    names = [employee.full_name for employee in employees]
    session['choices'] = names
    response = MessagingResponse()
    message = ["We found multiple people, reply with:"]
    for i, name in enumerate(names, 1):
        message.append("%s for %s" % (i, name))
    message.append("Or start over")
    response.message('\n'.join(message))
    return str(response)
from flask import request, session
from . import app
from .models import Employee
from twilio.twiml.messaging_response import (
    MessagingResponse,
    Message,
    Body,
    Media
)

NOT_FOUND_MESSAGE = "We did not find the employee you're looking for"


@app.route('/directory/search', methods=['POST'])
def search():
    query = request.form['Body']

    if _is_choice_answer(query):
        return _send_selected_employee(query)

    employees = list(Employee.query.filter(Employee.full_name.contains(query)))
    if len(employees) == 1:
        return _send_single_result(employees)
    elif len(employees) > 1:
        return _send_multiple_results(employees)
    else:
        return _send_not_found()


def _send_not_found():
    response = MessagingResponse()
    response.message(NOT_FOUND_MESSAGE)
    return str(response)


def _send_single_result(employees):
    response = MessagingResponse()
    employee = employees[0]
    employee_data = '\n'.join([employee.full_name,
                               employee.phone_number,
                               employee.email])
    message = Message()
    message.append(Body(employee_data))
    message.append(Media(employee.image_url))
    return str(response.append(message))


def _is_choice_answer(query):
    choices = session.get('choices', [])
    if query.isdigit():
        query = int(query)
        return (query-1) in range(len(choices))
    return False


def _send_selected_employee(query):
    name = session['choices'][int(query)-1]
    employees = Employee.query.filter_by(full_name=name)
    return _send_single_result(employees)


def _send_multiple_results(employees):
    names = [employee.full_name for employee in employees]
    session['choices'] = names
    response = MessagingResponse()
    message = ["We found multiple people, reply with:"]
    for i, name in enumerate(names, 1):
        message.append("%s for %s" % (i, name))
    message.append("Or start over")
    response.message('\n'.join(message))
    return str(response)
from flask import request, session
from . import app
from .models import Employee
from twilio.twiml.messaging_response import (
    MessagingResponse,
    Message,
    Body,
    Media
)

NOT_FOUND_MESSAGE = "We did not find the employee you're looking for"


@app.route('/directory/search', methods=['POST'])
def search():
    query = request.form['Body']

    if _is_choice_answer(query):
        return _send_selected_employee(query)

    employees = list(Employee.query.filter(Employee.full_name.contains(query)))
    if len(employees) == 1:
        return _send_single_result(employees)
    elif len(employees) > 1:
        return _send_multiple_results(employees)
    else:
        return _send_not_found()


def _send_not_found():
    response = MessagingResponse()
    response.message(NOT_FOUND_MESSAGE)
    return str(response)


def _send_single_result(employees):
    response = MessagingResponse()
    employee = employees[0]
    employee_data = '\n'.join([employee.full_name,
                               employee.phone_number,
                               employee.email])
    message = Message()
    message.append(Body(employee_data))
    message.append(Media(employee.image_url))
    return str(response.append(message))


def _is_choice_answer(query):
    choices = session.get('choices', [])
    if query.isdigit():
        query = int(query)
        return (query-1) in range(len(choices))
    return False


def _send_selected_employee(query):
    name = session['choices'][int(query)-1]
    employees = Employee.query.filter_by(full_name=name)
    return _send_single_result(employees)


def _send_multiple_results(employees):
    names = [employee.full_name for employee in employees]
    session['choices'] = names
    response = MessagingResponse()
    message = ["We found multiple people, reply with:"]
    for i, name in enumerate(names, 1):
        message.append("%s for %s" % (i, name))
    message.append("Or start over")
    response.message('\n'.join(message))
    return str(response)