Receive SMS using Node

    Overview

    Sending an outbound message is only one way to deliver your message to a recipient; in order to increase the interaction, two-way communication is required. In this guide, we’ll show you how to receive SMS on a Plivo phone number.

    Start your implementation with Plivo to receive SMS using PHLO or the traditional API way. PHLO allows you to create and deploy your flows using its intuitive canvas in few clicks. Refer to the instructions from the respective tabs below to start your integration with PHLO or API as you wish.

    To receive incoming SMS, you can create and deploy a PHLO with a few clicks on the PHLO canvas. PHLO also lets you visually construct your entire use-case. With PHLO, you only pay for SMS you send/receive, and building with PHLO is free. You can refer to the below instructions in the Using PHLO tab to begin your implementation.

    Outline

    Receive SMS

    Implementation

    In this section, we will guide you to create a PHLO to Receive SMS.

    Prerequisites

    1. Create a Plivo Account(if you don’t have one already): You can sign up with your work email address and complete the phone verification step using your mobile number.
    2. Plivo Phone Number(Optional): To receive messages, you must have a Plivo phone number that supports SMS. Numbers can be purchased from the Numbers section of your Plivo Console and use the same as the source number/from number for the outbound SMS. This number will also help you receive incoming SMS as you must have a SMS-enabled Plivo phone number to do the same. Please note that you can also purchase numbers using the Numbers API.

    Create the PHLO

    You can create a PHLO by referring to the below instructions to send an outbound SMS:

    Create a PHLO to receive SMS

    • On the side navigation bar, click PHLO. The PHLO page will appear and display your existing PHLOs, if any exist. If this is your first PHLO, then the PHLO page will be empty.
    • Click Create New PHLO to build a new PHLO.
    • In the Choose your use-case window, click Build my own. The PHLO canvas will appear with the Start node.
      Note: The Start node is the starting point of any PHLO. You can choose between the four available trigger states of the start node; Incoming SMS, Incoming Call, and API Request. For this PHLO, we will use the Incoming Message trigger state.
    • From the list of components on the left-hand side, drag and drop the HTTP Request component onto the canvas. This will add a HTTP Request node onto the canvas.
    • Connect the Start node with the HTTP Request node, using the Incoming Message trigger state.
    • Configure the HTTP Request node to send the details to your Web Server.
    • Once you have configured the node, click Validate to save the configurations.
    • After you complete the configurations, provide a recognizable name for your PHLO and click Save. Your PHLO is now ready.

    Assign the PHLO to a Plivo Number for Incoming SMS

    Once you have created and configured your PHLO, assign your PHLO to a Plivo number.

    To assign a PHLO to a number

    1. Log in to your Plivo Console
    2. On the Product Navigation bar, click Phone Numbers.
    3. On the Numbers page, under Your Numbers, click the phone number you wish to use for the PHLO.
    4. In the Number Configuration window, select PHLO from the Application Type list.
    5. From the PHLO Name list, select the PHLO you wish to use with the phone number, and then click Update Number.

    Assign PHLO to a Plivo Number

    If you have not purchased a phone number yet, you can buy a phone number(s) by referring to the instructions available here.

    Test and Validate

    You can now receive a message to your Plivo phone number to receive an incoming sms and see how the inbound sms is handled using PHLO.

    For more information about creating a PHLO app, see the PHLO User Guide.
    For information on components and their variables, see the PHLO Components Library.

    To receive your first incoming SMS, you can refer to the instructions in the following section to begin your implementation.

    Outline

    Receive SMS

    Implementation

    In this section, we will guide you in setting up an app to receive a SMS on your Plivo number.

    Prequisites

    1. Plivo account: Sign up for a Plivo account if you don’t have one already.
    2. Plivo phone number: To receive SMS, you must have a Plivo phone number that supports SMS. You can purchase numbers from the Numbers page of the Plivo console or by using the Numbers API.

      Buy a New Plivo Number

    Set Up a Express server for Incoming SMS

    In this section, we’ll walk you through how to set up a Express server in under five minutes and start handling incoming SMS.

    Install Node.js

    Operating SystemInstructions
    macOS & LinuxTo see if you already have Node.js installed, run the command node --version in the terminal. If you don't have it installed, you can install it from here .
    WindowsTo install Node.js on Windows you can download it from here and install.

    Install Plivo Node.js Package

    • Create a project directory, run the following command:

      $ mkdir mynodeapp
      
    • Change the directory to our project directory in the command line:

      $ cd mynodeapp
      
    • Install the SDK using npm

      $ npm install plivo
      

    Create a Express Server for Incoming SMS

    Use the following code snippet to start a local server.

    1
    2
    3
    4
    5
    6
    7
    8
    9
    10
    11
    12
    13
    14
    15
    16
    17
    18
    19
    20
    21
    
    const express = require('express');
    const bodyParser = require('body-parser');
    const app = express();
    
    app.use(bodyParser.urlencoded({
        extended: true
    }));
    app.use(function (req, response, next) {
        response.contentType('application/xml');
        next();
    });
    app.set('port', (process.env.PORT || 3000));
    app.all('/receive_sms/', function (request, response) {
        let from_number = request.body.From || request.query.From;
        let to_number = request.body.To || request.query.To;
        let text = request.body.Text || request.query.Text;
        console.log('Message received - From: ' + from_number + ', To: ' + to_number + ', Text: ' + text);
    });
    app.listen(app.get('port'), function () {
        console.log('Node app is running on port', app.get('port'));
    });
    

    Save this code in any file (name the file something like receive_sms.js). To run this file on the server, go to the folder where this file resides and use the following command:

    $ node receive_sms.js
    

    And you should see your basic server app in action on http://localhost:3000/receive_sms/

    Exposing your local server to the internet

    To receive Incoming SMS and to handle callbacks, your local server should be able to connect with Plivo API service, Ngrok is a tunneling software used to expose a web server running on your local machine to the internet. Using Ngrok you can set webhooks which can talk to Plivo server.

    ngrok block diagram

    You can download and install ngrok from here. Follow the detailed configuration instructions to get started.

    Run ngrok on the port which currently hosts your application. For example, if your port number is 80, run the following command:

    ./ngrok http <port_on_which_your_local_server_is_running>
    

    This will give you a UI with links that look like ngrok.io/* which you can use to access your local server using the public network.

    Sample ngrok CLI

    Create an Application

    1. Create an Application by visiting the Application Page and click on New Application. You can also use Plivo’s Application API.
    2. Give your application a name. Let’s call it Receive SMS. Enter your server URL (e.g. http://example.com/receive_sms/) in the Message URL field and set the method as POST. See our Application API docs to learn how to modify your application through our APIs.
    3. Click on Create to save your application.

    Create Application

    Assign a Plivo number to your app

    1. Navigate to the Numbers page and select the phone number you want to use for this app.
    2. Select Receive SMS (name of the app) from the Plivo App dropdown list.
    3. Click on Update to save.

    Assign Phone Number to Receive SMS App

    Test and validate

    Send an SMS to your Plivo number using a regular mobile phone. Plivo will send a request to your Message URL with the parameters listed in the Messages Documentation.

    Common Use Cases for Receive SMS

    The majority of the use cases include an Receive SMS. For example, SMS Opt-in, SMS Opt-outs, Receive SMS Surveys, and so on.