j.c.'s Blog

Introducing MassText

Feb 21, 2010 | 2 minutes read

This past weekend, I was at PyCon. My entire department went, which led to some communication difficulties. While we all had each other’s mobile numbers, text messages and phone calls were requiring a phone tree system, which was both lossy—not everyone got the messages—and really inefficient.

Not to mention irritating.

Programming to the Rescue

Fortunately, Twilio recently released an SMS service, which makes programming SMS powered web apps really simple. With a little django power, I was able to put together a simple webapp that can accept an SMS and send it on to a number of other people.

MassText

Unoriginally, I’ve entitled the project MassText. It’s a surprisingly simple application—only one model, only one view (plus a little love from contrib.admin and contrib.auth). The model stores a phone number and who owns said number; the view handles the send and receive via Twilio.

The basic process works like this:

  • An SMS is sent to a Twilio number.
  • Twilio sends a POST to the masstext view.
  • The masstext view:
    • pulls the other users in the list
    • creates a Twilio XML response containing the original sms message for each user.
    • Sends the response to Twilio
  • Twilio sends the defined SMS messages to all users.

Like I said, simple.

I Wanna Play Too!

I’ve put the code up on github. I’ll be adding official licensing and working on better features in time. Feel free to take a look and set it up yourself.