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TwiML™ Voice: <Gather>

You can use TwiML's <Gather> verb to collect digits or transcribe speech during a call.

The following example shows the most basic use of <Gather> TwiML:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<Response>
    <Gather/>
</Response>

You can always send Twilio plain TwiML, or leverage the helper libraries to add TwiML to your web applications:

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      Toggle to your preferred programming language, or view the raw TwiML to see how the libraries and TwiML syntax differ

      Simple <Gather>

      Toggle to your preferred programming language, or view the raw TwiML to see how the libraries and TwiML syntax differ

      When Twilio executes this TwiML, it will pause for up to five seconds to wait for the caller to enter digits on their keypad. A few things might happen next:

      • The caller enters digits followed by a # symbol or 5 seconds of silence. Twilio will submit those digits in a POST request back to the URL hosting your TwiML.
      • The caller doesn't enter any digits and 5 seconds pass. Twilio will move on to the next TwiML verb in the document – since there are no more verbs here, Twilio will end the call.

      By nesting <Say> or <Play> in your <Gather>, you can read some text or play music for your caller while waiting for their input. See "Nest other verbs" below for examples and more information.

      Special Keys

      The * and # keys can provide forward and backward functionality with no additional code, allowing users to navigate an IVR beyond just 0-9.

      Pressing * takes you back to the beginning of the <Gather>.
      Pressing # moves you to the next step in the <Gather>.

      For instance, when the following nested <Gather> / <Say> TwiML is used, the user can press # to move from 1 to 2 to 3, and * to return to the top of <Gather>

      <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
      <Response>
        <Gather>
          <Say>1 1 1 1 1 1</Say>
          <Say>2 2 2 2 2 2 </Say>
          <Say>3 3 3 3 3 3 </Say>
        </Gather>
      </Response>
      

      Furthermore, if the <Say> uses loop, the # key will advance to the next iteration of the loop

      <Gather> Attributes

      <Gather> supports the following attributes that change its behavior:

      Attribute name Allowed values Default value
      action URL (relative or absolute) current document URL
      finishOnKey 0-9, #, *, and '' (the empty string) #
      hints "words, phrases that have many words" none
      input dtmf, speech, dtmf speech dtmf
      language BCP-47 language tags en-US
      method GET, POST POST
      numDigits positive integer unlimited
      partialResultCallback URL (relative or absolute) none
      partialResultCallbackMethod GET, POST POST
      profanityFilter true, false true
      speechTimeout positive integer or auto timeout attribute value
      timeout positive integer 5

      Use one or more of these attributes in a <Gather> verb like so:

      <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
      <Response>
          <Gather input="speech dtmf" timeout="3" numDigits="1">
              <Say>Please press 1 or say sales for sales.</Say>
          </Gather>
      </Response>
      

      action

      The action attribute takes an absolute or relative URL as a value. When the caller finishes entering digits (or the timeout is reached), Twilio will make an HTTP request to this URL. That request will include the user's data and Twilio's standard request parameters.

      If you do not provide an action parameter, Twilio will POST to the URL that houses the active TwiML document.

      Twilio may send some extra parameters with its request after the <Gather> ends:

      If you gather digits from the caller, Twilio will include the Digits parameter containing the numbers your caller entered.

      If you specify speech as an input with input="speech", Twilio will include SpeechResult and Confidence:

      • SpeechResult contains the transcribed result of your caller's speech.
      • Confidence contains a confidence score between 0.0 and 1.0. A higher confidence score means a better likelihood that the transcription is accurate.

      After <Gather> ends and Twilio sends its request to your action URL, the current call will continue using the TwiML you send back from that URL. Because of this, any TwiML verbs that occur after your <Gather> are unreachable.

      However, if the caller did not enter any digits or speech, call flow would continue in the original TwiML document.

      Without an action URL, Twilio will re-request the URL that hosts the TwiML you just executed. This can lead to unwanted looping behavior if you're not careful. See our example below for more information.

      Imagine you have the following TwiML hosted at http://example.com/complex_gather.xml:

      <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
      <Response>
          <Gather>
              <Say>
                  Please enter your account number,
                  followed by the pound sign
              </Say>
          </Gather>
          <Say>We didn't receive any input. Goodbye!</Say>
      </Response>
      

      Scenario 1: If the caller:

      • does not press the keypad or say anything for five seconds, or
      • enters '#' (the default finishOnKey value) before entering any other digits

      then they will hear, "We didn't receive any input. Goodbye!"

      Scenario 2: If the caller:

      • enters a digit while the call is speaking "Please enter your account number..."

      then the <Say> verb will stop speaking and wait for the user's action.

      Scenario 3: If the caller:

      • enters 12345 and then presses #, or
      • allows 5 seconds to pass

      then Twilio will submit the digits and request parameters to the URL hosting this TwiML (http://example.com/complex_gather.xml). Twilio will fetch this same TwiML again and execute it, getting the caller stuck in this <Gather> loop.

      To avoid this behavior, it's best practice to point your action URL to a new URL that hosts some other TwiML for handling the duration of the call.

      The following code sample is almost identical to the TwiML above, but we've added the action and method attributes:

      Loading Code Sample...
          
          
              
              
              
              
            
          Specify an action URL to properly handle the rest of the call

          Complex <Gather> with action/method and nested <Say>

          Specify an action URL to properly handle the rest of the call

          Now when the caller enters their input, Twilio will submit the digits and request parameters to the process_gather.php URL.

          If we wanted to read back this input to the caller, our code hosted at /process_gather.php might look like:

          <?php
          // page located at http://yourserver/process_gather.php
          echo "<?xml version=\"1.0\" encoding=\"UTF-8\"?>\n";
          echo "<Response><Say>You entered " . $_REQUEST['Digits'] . "</Say></Response>";
          ?>
          

          Back to attributes list

          finishOnKey

          finishOnKey lets you set a value that your caller can press to submit their digits or speech.

          For example, if you set finishOnKey to # and your caller enters 1234#, Twilio will immediately stop waiting for more input after they press #.

          Twilio will then submit Digits=1234 to your action URL (note that the # is not included).

          Allowed values for this attribute are:

          • # (this is the default value)
          • *
          • Single digits 09
          • An empty string ('')

          If you use an empty string, <Gather> will capture all user input and no key will end the <Gather>. In this case, Twilio submits the user's digits to the action URL only after the timeout is reached.

          Back to attributes list

          hints

          You can improve Twilio's recognition of the words or phrases you expect from your callers by adding hints to your <Gather>.

          The hints attribute contains a list of words or phrases that Twilio should expect during recognition.

          You may provide up to 500 words or phrases in this list, separating each entry with a comma. Your hints may be up to 100 characters each, and you should separate each word in a phrase with a space, e.g.:

          hints="this is a phrase I expect to hear, keyword, product name, name"
          

          Back to attributes list

          input

          Specify which inputs (DTMF or speech) Twilio should accept with the input attribute.

          The default input for <Gather> is dtmf. You can set input to dtmf, speech, or dtmf speech.

          If you set input to speech, Twilio will gather speech from the caller for a maximum duration of 60 seconds.

          If you're using Twilio's speech recognition with <Gather>, you can use this tool to estimate your costs.

          If you set dtmf speech for your input, dtmf will take precedence over speech. If the caller enters the numDigits or presses the finishOnKey , the <Gather> will end without collecting more speech.

          The following example shows a <Gather> that specifies speech input from the user. When this TwiML executes, the caller will hear the <Say> prompt. Twilio will then collect speech input for up to 60 seconds.

          Once the caller stops speaking for five seconds, Twilio posts their transcribed speech to your action URL.

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              Back to attributes list

              language

              The language attribute specifies the language Twilio should recognize from your caller.

              This value defaults to en-US, but you can set your language to any of our supported languages: see the full list.

              Back to attributes list

              method

              The method you set on <Gather> tells Twilio whether to request your action URL via HTTP GET or POST.

              POST is <Gather>'s default method.

              Back to attributes list

              numDigits

              You can set the number of digits you expect from your caller by including numDigits in <Gather>.

              The numDigits attribute only applies to DTMF input.

              For example, you might wish to set numDigits="5" when asking your caller to enter their 5-digit zip code. Once the caller enters the final digit of 94117, Twilio will immediately submit the data to your action URL.

              Back to attributes list

              partialResultCallback

              If you provide a partialResultCallback URL, Twilio will make requests to this URL in real-time as it recognizes speech. These requests will contain a parameter labeled UnstableSpeechResult which contains partial transcriptions. These transcriptions may change as the speech recognition progresses.

              The webhooks Twilio makes to your partialResultCallback are asynchronous. They do not accept any TwiML in response. If you want to take more actions based on this partial result, you need to use the REST API to modify the call.

              Back to attributes list

              profanityFilter

              The profanityFilter specifies if Twilio should filter profanities out of your speech transcription. This attribute defaults to true, which replaces all but the initial character in each filtered profane word with asterisks, e.g., 'f***.'

              If you set this attribute to false, Twilio will no longer filter any profanities in your transcriptions.

              Back to attributes list

              speechTimeout

              When collecting speech from your caller, speechTimeout sets the limit (in seconds) that Twilio will wait before it stops its speech recognition. After this timeout is reached, Twilio will post the speechResult to your action URL.

              If you use both timeout and speechTimeout in your <Gather>, timeout will take precedence for DTMF input and speechTimeout will take precedence for speech.

              If you speechTimeout to auto, Twilio will stop speech recognition when there is a pause in speech and return the results immediately.

              Back to attributes list

              timeout

              timeout allows you to set the limit (in seconds) that Twilio will wait for the caller to press another digit or say another word before it sends data to your action URL.

              For example, if timeout is 3, Twilio wait three seconds for the caller to press another key or say another word before submitting their data.

              Twilio will wait until all nested verbs execute before it begins the timeout period.

              Back to attributes list

              Nest other verbs

              You can nest the following verbs within <Gather>:

              <Say>

              The following example shows a <Gather> with a nested <Say>. This will read some text to the caller, and allows the caller to enter input at any time while that text is read to them:

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                  When a <Gather> contains nested <Say> or <Play> verbs, the timeout begins either after the audio completes or when the caller presses their first key.

                  Manage timeouts

                  When a <Gather> reaches its timeout without any user input, call control will fall through to the next verb in your original TwiML document.

                  If you wish to have Twilio submit a request to your action URL even if <Gather> times out, include a <Redirect> after the <Gather> like this:

                  Loading Code Sample...
                      
                      
                          
                          
                          
                          
                        
                      Send information to your action URL even if <Gather> times out

                      <Redirect> after <Gather>

                      Send information to your action URL even if <Gather> times out

                      With this code, Twilio will move to the next verb in the document (<Redirect>) when <Gather> times out. In our example, we instruct Twilio to make a new GET request to /process_gather.php?Digits=TIMEOUT

                      Troubleshooting

                      A few common problems users face when working with <Gather>:

                      Problem: <Gather> doesn't receive caller input when the caller is using a VoIP phone.

                      Solution: Some VoIP phones have trouble sending DTMF digits. This is usually because these phones use compressed bandwidth-conserving audio protocols that interfere with the transmission of the digit's signal. Consult your phone's documentation on DTMF problems.

                      Problem: Twilio does not send the Digits parameter to your <Gather> URL.

                      Solution: Check to ensure your application is not responding to the action URL with an HTTP 3xx redirect. Twilio will follow this redirect, but won't resend the Digits parameter.

                      If you encounter other issues with <Gather>, please reach out to our support team for assistance.

                      Language appendix

                      A .csv of languages is available here.

                      Language Language Tag
                      Afrikaans (South Africa) af-ZA
                      Amharic (Ethiopia) am-ET
                      Arabic (Algeria) ar-DZ
                      Arabic (Bahrain) ar-BH
                      Arabic (Egypt) ar-EG
                      Arabic (Iraq) ar-IQ
                      Arabic (Israel) ar-IL
                      Arabic (Jordan) ar-JO
                      Arabic (Kuwait) ar-KW
                      Arabic (Lebanon) ar-LB
                      Arabic (Morocco) ar-MA
                      Arabic (Oman) ar-OM
                      Arabic (Qatar) ar-QA
                      Arabic (Saudi Arabia) ar-SA
                      Arabic (State of Palestine) ar-PS
                      Arabic (Tunisia) ar-TN
                      Arabic (United Arab Emirates) ar-AE
                      Armenian (Armenia) hy-AM
                      Azerbaijani (Azerbaijani) az-AZ
                      Basque (Spain) eu-ES
                      Bengali (Bangladesh) bn-BD
                      Bengali (India) bn-IN
                      Bulgarian (Bulgaria) bg-BG
                      Catalan (Spain) ca-ES
                      Chinese, Cantonese (Traditional, Hong Kong) yue-Hant-HK
                      Chinese, Mandarin (Simplified, China) cmn-Hans-CN
                      Chinese, Mandarin (Simplified, Hong Kong) cmn-Hans-HK
                      Chinese, Mandarin (Traditional, Taiwan) cmn-Hant-TW
                      Croatian (Croatia) hr-HR
                      Czech (Czech Republic) cs-CZ
                      Danish (Denmark) da-DK
                      Dutch (Netherlands) nl-NL
                      English (Australia) en-AU
                      English (Canada) en-CA
                      English (Ghana) en-GH
                      English (India) en-IN
                      English (Ireland) en-IE
                      English (Kenya) en-KE
                      English (New Zealand) en-NZ
                      English (Nigeria) en-NG
                      English (Philippines) en-PH
                      English (South Africa) en-ZA
                      English (Tanzania) en-TZ
                      English (United Kingdom) en-GB
                      English (United States) en-US
                      Filipino (Philippines) f il-PH
                      Finnish (Finland) fi-FI
                      French (Canada) fr-CA
                      French (France) fr-FR
                      Galician (Spain) gl-ES
                      Georgian (Georgia) ka-GE
                      German (Germany) de-DE
                      Greek (Greece) el-GR
                      Gujarati (India) gu-IN
                      Hebrew (Israel) he-IL
                      Hindi (India) hi-IN
                      Hungarian (Hungary) hu-HU
                      Icelandic (Iceland) is-IS
                      Indonesian (Indonesia) id-ID
                      Italian (Italy) it-IT
                      Japanese (Japan) ja-JP
                      Javanese (Indonesia) jv-ID
                      Kannada (India) kn-IN
                      Khmer (Cambodian) km-KH
                      Korean (South Korea) ko-KR
                      Lao (Laos) lo-LA
                      Latvian (Latvia) lv-LV
                      Lithuanian (Lithuania) lt-LT
                      Malay (Malaysia) ms-MY
                      Malayalam (India) ml-IN
                      Marathi (India) mr-IN
                      Nepali (Nepal) ne-NP
                      Norwegian Bokmål (Norway) nb-NO
                      Persian (Iran) fa-IR
                      Polish (Poland) pl-PL
                      Portuguese (Brazil) pt-BR
                      Portuguese (Portugal) pt-PT
                      Romanian (Romania) ro-RO
                      Russian (Russia) ru-RU
                      Serbian (Serbia) sr-RS
                      Sinhala (Sri Lanka) si-LK
                      Slovak (Slovakia) sk-SK
                      Slovenian (Slovenia) sl-SI
                      Spanish (Argentina) es-AR
                      Spanish (Bolivia) es-BO
                      Spanish (Chile) es-CL
                      Spanish (Colombia) es-CO
                      Spanish (Costa Rica) es-CR
                      Spanish (Dominican Republic) es-DO
                      Spanish (Ecuador) es-EC
                      Spanish (El Salvador) es-SV
                      Spanish (Guatemala) es-GT
                      Spanish (Honduras) es-HN
                      Spanish (Mexico) es-MX
                      Spanish (Nicaragua) es-NI
                      Spanish (Panama) es-PA
                      Spanish (Paraguay) es-PY
                      Spanish (Peru) es-PE
                      Spanish (Puerto Rico) es-PR
                      Spanish (Spain) es-ES
                      Spanish (United States) es-US
                      Spanish (Uruguay) es-UY
                      Spanish (Venezuela) es-VE
                      Sundanese (Indonesia) su-ID
                      Swahili (Kenya) sw-KE
                      Swahili (Tanzania) sw-TZ
                      Swedish (Sweden) sv-SE
                      Tamil (India) ta-IN
                      Tamil (Malaysia) ta-MY
                      Tamil (Singapore) ta-SG
                      Tamil (Sri Lanka) ta-LK
                      Telugu (India) te-IN
                      Thai (Thailand) th-TH
                      Turkish (Turkey) tr-TR
                      Ukrainian (Ukraine) uk-UA
                      Urdu (India) ur-IN
                      Urdu (Pakistan) ur-PK
                      Vietnamese (Vietnam) vi-VN
                      Zulu (South Africa) zu-ZA

                      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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