fmSMS Now Supports New Quiubas SMS API

fmSMS now supports the new Quiubas SMS API. Quiubas originally started as an SMS Gateway delivering to Mexico and now delivers to other countries in Latin America, including:

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Guadalupe
  • Guatemala
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Martinique
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Puerto Rico
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela

You can download a trial version of fmSMS to test with the Quiubas SMS Gateway from here – please get in touch if you have any questions about using fmSMS and the updated Quiubas SMS Gateway

Databuzz 2018 End of Year Xmas Sale – 20% Off All Licenses

 

The Databuzz End of Year Xmas Sale is now on – all Product Licenses are now 20% off, including:

Use the coupon XMAS2018 at checkout on any purchase and the 20% discount will be applied to your order. The sale runs until the end of the day on January 04, 2019 (Australian Eastern Daylight Time). Click here to start shopping.

Free trial versions are available for all of our products – please contact us to request a trial version. We’ve updated all of our products in the past few weeks with new features, including:

All our prices are in Australian dollars – if you’re purchasing from outside of Australia you’ll also get to take advantage of the low Australian dollar (1 Australian Dollar equals approximately 0.72 US Dollars).

We also have a similar sale on fmSMS Licenses (20% off) – click here to visit the fmSMS website for further details.

FileMaker and the Twilio API

Here at Databuzz we’re longtime fans of Twilio, the company with the strange name that offers a Cloud communications platform, providing the building blocks to add messaging, voice, and video in your web and mobile applications.

For many years we’ve been working with the Twilio API, primarily to send and receive SMS messages using our fmSMS FileMaker solution. Twilio provides great coverage and very competitive pricing and we’ve been recommending Twilio to our customers for many years – when they ask which SMS Gateway we use at Databuzz we don’t hesitate to recommend Twilio.

Earlier this year we had the chance to attend the first Twilio Engage Sydney and learn more about the company’s strategy and participate in some great product demos. Twilio are opening 2 new offices in Melbourne and Sydney and it was great to be able to meet some of their Australian based staff in person.

We’ve written about how we use the Twilio API in the past, including a demonstration for Voice Calling with FileMaker and Twilio as well as sending Emojis from fmSMS. We’ve also made some custom solutions for customers to allow them to send and receive MMS (picture messages) messages from the FileMaker platform.

Over the past few months we’ve had the opportunity to work on some additional Twilio APIs that enhance the functionality found in our fmSMS solution, including:

  • adding phone number lookup functionality via the Twilio Lookup API
  • adding the ability to poll Twilio for any incoming messages that may not have been delivered due to a local server/Internet outage when using the regular Webhooks

For some customers the ability to check a number before sending an SMS or MMS message is important as it allows you to verify that the number you are about to send a message to is indeed a mobile number. For example you might have a list of Customers and associated phone numbers, but you aren’t sure if the number is a landline number or a mobile number. Using the Twilio Lookup API you can make a request to verify a number and receive information about the carrier and optionally (where supported) the caller name, allowing you to confirm the veracity of the number.

fmSMS includes the necessary PHP files to receive incoming messages to your Twilio number and have these pushed automatically to your FileMaker Server, but there may be times when your server or Internet connection is offline but you would still like to download any missed messages into your FileMaker solution. We’ve helped customers add the ability to “poll” the Twilio Messages API for any incoming messages to their Twilio number that they might have missed during a planned or unscheduled outage.

We’ve put together a simple demonstration video showing these in action – you can watch the video inline below or directly on YouTube:

Databuzz 2017 End of Year Xmas Sale – 20% Off All Licenses

The Databuzz End of Year Xmas Sale is now on – all Product Licenses are now 20% off, including:

The sale runs until the end of the day on the 31st December, 2017 (Australian Eastern Daylight Time). Free trial versions are available for all of our products – please contact us to request a trial version.

All our prices are in Australian dollars – if you’re purchasing from outside of Australia you’ll also get to take advantage of the low Australian dollar (1 Australian Dollar equals approximately 0.75 US Dollars).

Discounts are applied automatically – no coupons required! Click here to start shopping.

We also have a similar sale on fmSMS Licenses (20% off) – click here to visit the fmSMS website for further details.

fmSMS Updated for Telstra Messaging API v2

Back in 2015 Telstra, Australia’s biggest mobile phone operator, launched a beta of their SMS Messaging API and fmSMS was one of the first commercial solutions to support the Telstra API. Telstra have recently released v2 of their Messaging API which includes a number of new features including:

  • dedicated number: you can provision an Australian mobile number for your account via the API
  • send SMS and MMS messages
  • receive messages to your dedicated number
  • delivery status: query the delivery status of your messages
  • callbacks: automatic notifications of message delivery status to a callback URL
  • alphanumeric sender ID support
  • concatenation: send messages up to 1900 characters long and Telstra will automatically segment and reassemble them
  • scheduled delivery: delay the delivery of submitted messages

Now that the Messaging API is out of beta there are a number of plans to choose from. You can start with a free trial which includes 1000 free messages and a dedicated mobile number. They also have a PAYG plan with no fixed term contract and messages are 6c per message, as well as an Enterprise plan.

You can download a trial version of fmSMS from the fmSMS website to test the Telstra SMS API using their Free Trial. When you purchase fmSMS you get the PHP files to use for automatic delivery status updates and automatic replies into fmSMS. Please contact us if you have any questions about fmSMS and the Telstra Messaging API.

fmSMS and FileMaker Cloud

FileMaker Cloud, FileMaker Inc’s cloud-based platform for managing and running custom apps, was officially launched one year ago this month. FileMaker Cloud gives you the simplicity and performance of the FileMaker Platform without spending time and resources deploying and maintaining a server

FileMaker Cloud runs on the Amazon Web Services Cloud (AWS) and was originally only available for customers in the United States and Canada (AWS Regions of Oregon and N. Virginia). This was extended to Europe, the Middle East and Africa in March 2017 (AWS regions of Ireland and Frankfurt) and Japan, Canada and Australia in July 2017 (AWS regions of Sydney, Canada and Tokyo).

There are a number of important differences between FileMaker Cloud and the traditional version of FileMaker Server for Mac/Windows – it’s worth remembering that FileMaker Cloud is not FileMaker Server as not all FileMaker Server features are available in FileMaker Cloud. FileMaker have a comparison between FileMaker Server and FileMaker Cloud that outlines the differences in various categories – some of the features of FileMaker Server not currently available in FileMaker Cloud that have implications for fmSMS include:

  • Custom Web Publishing with PHP and XML
  • Scheduled Scripts in the FileMaker Server Admin Console

There are no issues using a FileMaker Cloud hosted version of fmSMS and the FileMaker Pro client application to send messages as all communication with the SMS Gateway when sending messages is handled by FileMaker Pro. We’re currently working on support for using Perform Script on Server – this requires a new Linux version of the plug-in to run under FileMaker Cloud which runs on CentOS Linux.

We’re currently testing this and hope to have an update shortly. Please note that server side schedule scripts are not currently supported on FileMaker Cloud – you will have to use Perform Script on Server for any server side script operations. Perform Script on Server is used by FileMaker Go and FileMaker WebDirect clients when accessing a hosted version of FileMaker Server to send messages. Now that FileMaker Pro v16 includes native support for JSON and cURL we will be able to use native functions to communicate with the SMS Gateways without requiring a FileMaker plug-in, so FileMaker Go and FileMaker WebDirect clients will be able to send messages directly without having to perform server side scripts that required a plug-in to be installed on FileMaker Server.

For receiving incoming messages/replies most of the SMS Gateways push incoming messages to a PHP file running on your FileMaker Server/Web Server. This uses the Custom Web Publishing with PHP feature of FileMaker Server – FileMaker Cloud does not support Custom Web Publishing so you will not be able to use the FileMaker Cloud to receive incoming messages using the supplied PHP pages. Some SMS Gateways do allow you to ‘poll’ periodically for new messages and download these from the SMS Gateway – see our Getting Started guide for further details.

We’re also investigating using the new FileMaker Data API to receive incoming messages – this is currently offered as a trial version with FileMaker Server v16 and is not currently available with FileMaker Cloud, so we will most likely wait until FileMaker Inc. release the shipping version and have finalised the licensing model and included this with FileMaker Cloud.

Reduce No-Shows with SMS Appointment Reminders

If you’re running an appointment based business you’re probably painfully aware of the cost of no-shows and missed appointments. Whether you’re taking bookings for an office based business (doctor, dentist, hairdresser etc) or for onsite appointments (building inspections, electricians, plumbers etc) it’s important to have a system in place to remind your customers about the upcoming appointment in advance.

Integrating reminders into the daily workflow of your appointment based business has a number of important benefits:

  • decreases appointment no-shows. We’re all human and sometimes we just forget to enter the appointment into our diary, but being reminded helps prevent no-shows or gives customers a chance to cancel or reschedule. It also allows you to fill your calendar if someone cancels with other waitlisted customers
  • maximises the convenience to the customer by allowing them to receive reminders on their mobile phone which they generally have with them at most times. They can also choose to respond if necessary from their phone at a time of their choosing
  • reduce the number of outbound and inbound calls and staff playing telephone tag

SMS messaging has emerged to be a preferred channel for customer communication including appointment reminders. I personally receive SMS reminders for the majority of my appointments (everything from car repairs/servicing to dental appointments). There are a number of advantages of SMS appointment reminders including:

  • SMS/TXT messaging is available on every mobile phone – there’s no need to download an app. It will work just as well on a Nokia from the 1990s as it will on the latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy and doesn’t require an Internet/data connection
  • sending txt messages is immediate and asynchoronous – it doesn’t require you and your customer to be talking to each other at the same time. You can send an appointment reminder to a customer and they can read the message and reply if needed at a time that is convenient to them
  • 90% of SMS messages are read within 3 minutes of being received and have a a 5X higher open rate than email
  • Cost effective – compared to a physical mail out or phone calls SMS appointment reminders are very cost effective

We’ve helped many small businesses implement an SMS based appointment reminder system into their daily workflows, including:

  • a removal business sends appointment reminders to both customers and truck drivers 2 days in advance confirming the upcoming appointment
  • a hairdresser automatically sends out appointment reminders 3 days before each appointment using a FileMaker Server scheduled script
  • a physiotherapist sends out birthday congratulations to all their customers automatically on their birthday with special offers using a FileMaker Server scheduled script

Appointment reminders can be sent by a staff member each day (for example to remind everyone about appointments tomorrow) or scheduled to be sent automatically by FileMaker Server. You can also take advantage of 2 way messaging to allow your customers to send a reply via SMS which is routed directly back into your FileMaker solution. One customer was able to replace a process that took 2 staff members over 90 minutes to contact all customers to confirm their appointments for the next day with an automated SMS reminder system that sends out hundreds of appointment reminders in under 5 minutes.

If you would like to discuss integrating SMS appointment reminders into your FileMaker solution please contact us for a free initial consultation to discuss your requirements. Our fmSMS solution is also available if you would like to have your existing in-house/external FileMaker developer perform an integration using our ready made solution.

 

FileMaker Pro v16 Compatibility Update

FileMaker Pro v16 was released today and we’re pleased to report that all Databuzz products are compatible with the FileMaker v16 platform. We haven’t encountered any issues with the following products in our testing with FileMaker Pro v16:

fmSMS – we have sent messages from multiple SMS Gateways, checked Account balances and checked the status of sent Messages successfully.

fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) – we have been able to authenticate, download from Xero to FileMaker and upload from FileMaker to Xero successfully

fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) – have been able to authenticate, download from WooCommerce to FileMaker and upload from FileMaker to WooCommerce successfully

fmAccounting Link (MYOB AccountRight Edition) – we have been able to authenticate, download from AccountRight to FileMaker and upload from FileMaker to AccountRight successfully

fmAccounting Link (MYOB Essentials Edition) – we have been able to authenticate, download from MYOB Essentials to FileMaker and upload from FileMaker to MYOB Essentials successfully

If you encounter any issues with any of our products and FileMaker Pro v16 please let us know. We’ll be writing more articles about some of the new features in the FileMaker v16 platform over the coming weeks – you can subscribe to our newsletter to be notified when they are released or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

fmSMS Now Supports Bandwidth SMS Gateway

fmSMS has been updated to support the Bandwidth SMS Gateway – you can send and receive SMS messages using the Bandwidth SMS Gateway and fmSMS. Bandwidth offer a free trial version so you can use the trial version of fmSMS to test the Bandwidth SMS Gateway.

Bandwidth are based in the USA and can also deliver to international numbers. They offer very competitive pricing  – at the time of writing (April 10, 2017) their prices are in US dollars:

  • $0.35 for the virtual number you use to send messages from
  • $0.005 for every outgoing message
  • all incoming messages are free

You can download a trial version of fmSMS from here – please get in touch if you have any questions about using fmSMS and the Bandwidth SMS Gateway.

fmSMS Chat View

One of our favourite features in fmSMS is the Chat View which we introduced back in July 2015. This shows you the sent and received messages for an individual Contact in a much more graphical interface compared to a traditional FileMaker view using portals. The Chat View is similar to how iChat/Messages works on the Mac and iOS platforms – the messages are displayed in a threaded view so you can see them as a conversation and quickly type a message using the defaults without having to leave the Chat View screen.

Here’s a screenshot showing the classic view of the SMS History for a Contact with 2 portals for the sent and received messages:

When you have multiple sent and received messages it can be quite hard to track the replies to a sent message and follow the conversation. Here’s the Chat View of the same Contact record:

We are colour coding the sent messages in blue and the replies in green to easily distinguish between the outgoing and incoming messages, and all messages are sorted by timestamps so they appear in reverse chronological order. When you have multiple sent/received messages you can easily scroll though the complete history and see all the messages that this Contact has received and all their replies in the one screen.

Here’s a quick video showing the fmSMS Chat View in action to send an appointment reminder and receive the reply back into fmSMS: