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Message Texting through the GP-MI Website

By: Daniel Martin-Mills | Published: 9/24/2020

 
Message Texting Through the GP-MI WebsiteMessage Texting Through the GP-MI Website

 

 

The GP-MI website is now configured to send and receive text messages via SMS, (Short Message Service).

 

This work was not prioritized because nobody has asked for it. But it has been a nagging issue for me. I often miss important emails. I have asked people to text or call me after sending important emails so I will know to look. This is an unfair imposition on them. Our website regularly launches automatic emails and I often miss these. They get buried within a sea of unwanted email and are often lost. There is no technical reason why the website can't also launch text messages to my phone.

 

A glaring example the problem is the set of sidebar buttons meant to give me user feedback. The 'Bug Report' and 'Feature Request' buttons shown below solicit information that is then stored in the database, while an automatic email is launched to me. I routinely miss those emails. With SMS, I will never miss these events.

 

 

 

Officers, Committee members and subscribers to the GP-MI forums might prefer text alerts to email. I will begin wiring the app to use SMS as we continue our development.

 

Many companies provide communications APIs (Application Programming Interface) for Internet applications. I selected Twilio because it seemed to be most widely used. (I don't know anyone with SMS programming experience.)

 

We pay only for usage. There are no fees. I estimate our future cost to be between $20 - $40 per year, which is less than one of our official email accounts. We needed a phone number. I selected the first Michigan number suggested: (231) 241 5682. This costs $1/mo., and is included in the cost estimate above.

 

There are many ways we might utilize this new service, including voice and video, but we currently only handle text messages. And since we are just getting started, there are only a few things we can do.

 

You can login and update your profile to subscribe to this service. Click the nav bar button below and then click to 'Edit' your 'Profile Information'.

 

 

The GP-MI Member data entry page is shown below.

 

 

 

 

You will see a new textbox called 'Phone for Texting'. If you check the box to its right, your regular phone number will be copied into this box. Click 'Save' to subscribe to the SMS. That will load the screen shown below.

 

 

 

You will have a new button to click. Please do. If you entered a number that is invalid or is blocked for some reason, you will receive an error message. (If you entered someone else's number for a prank, realize that evidence of what you did is in our database - which is regularly backed up. If someone prosecutes, we will be happy to help!)

 

'Blocking' normally means that the phone owner has texted, 'STOP'. If you do that, you will not receive anything from our service again.

 

If, at some time, you find that the service is not working for you, even after entering your phone number correctly, try texting, 'START'. (While testing the code, I forgot what I had done and lost an hour over this!)

 

You can test sending messages to the website, too. To do this, set up a contact on your phone for 'GP-MI Website' and enter the phone number: (231) 241 5682. Then send a text message. Right now, it responds the same way no matter what you say, (don't say 'Start' or 'Stop'). It will tell you whether or not you are a GP-MI member with a 'Phone for Texting' set up on your profile page.

 

Note that, although there are many ways to use SMS, our email accounts cannot be configured to forward to the service, whether we continue with 'WorkSpace Email' or go back to 'Outlook'. It just can't be done with these products. Sending email directly to me will get the same treatment it always has. Only emails launched through the GP-MI website can use SMS.

 

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