Sending Messages from FileMaker to WhatsApp Users with Twilio

 

Last month I attended the Twilio Engage + Superclass events in Melbourne, Australia. This was my second Twilio Engage event after attending last year’s Sydney event, but my first Superclass session. Superclass is hands-on training for developers to learn how to use all things Twilio, with Twilio engineers on hand to help as you work through code challenges in TwilioQuest, their self-paced training video game. The use of TwilioQuest makes the day lots of fun with your awards flashing up on the big screen every time you compete a new challenge.

Even though I’ve been developing with the Twilio APIs for many years ( see my article from last year about how we’ve integrated FileMaker with Twilio for two-way messaging, voice calling, number lookups and polling for incoming messages) it’s always great to spend a day away from work with other developers and the Twilio staff to learn new skills and immerse yourself in the content without distractions.

My aim for this year’s Superclass was to spend time learning some of the other Twilio APIs that I wasn’t very familiar with, with a particular focus on the Twilio API for WhatsApp. I was aware that Twilio had recently launched the API for WhatsApp which allows you to send SMS messages directly to WhatsApp users – there are over 1.5 billion people using WhatsApp – and I was keen to see if I could get this working from fmSMS, our FileMaker solution for sending and receiving SMS messages from the FileMaker platform.

The Twilio API for WhatsApp is currently in beta and you can use their Sandbox to setup access from a Twilio number and start sending messages using their sample templates. The API works in a similar fashion to their standard Message API and I was able to get up and running quickly and send my first message from fmSMS to my WhatsApp account. Here’s a screenshot showing the message I sent from fmSMS:

and here’s how it appears in the WhatsApp app on my iPhone:

I then enabled a Webhooks for incoming messages and was then able to receive incoming messages from WhatsApp back in to fmSMS. You can learn more about pricing for the Twilio API for WhatsApp here and API documentation here.

Once the Twilio API for WhatsApp is out of beta and you can easily request your own numbers we’ll definitely be adding this as another supported Gateway for fmSMS. We’ve put together a short video showing sending and receiving messages between FileMaker and WhatsApp in action:

Databuzz to Exhibit at the 2019 FileMaker Developer Conference

The FileMaker Developer Conference (DevCon) is on again this year in Orlando, Florida at the Gaylord Palms Resort from August 5-8, 2019. We’re excited to announce that we will be once again exhibiting at the conference.

This year attendees can choose between a 2-Day and 3-Day conference program, as well as the traditional Training Day on the Monday. The Conference Tracks are organised around Create, Share and Integrate with sessions for Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced developers.

We’re looking forward to demonstrating our products to as many of the over 1,300 attendees as possible. As well as demonstrating the following products we will have a few new products by August that we can’t wait to share with the FileMaker Developer community:

  • fmSMS: our award winning 2 way SMS solution for FileMaker Pro, FileMaker Go, FileMaker WebDirect and FileMaker Server. fmSMS allows you to send an SMS from FileMaker Pro, FileMaker Go and FileMaker Server to almost any mobile phone in the world, reaching over 800 networks in more than 200 countries.
  • fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition): our solution that integrates between FileMaker Pro and the Xero Accounting Software. Xero is the market­leading small business cloud accounting software in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom and is making great progress in the United States market. fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) lets you upload and download Contacts, Invoices, Payments, Bills, Timesheets and more between FileMaker and Xero.
  • fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition): our solution that integrates between FileMaker and the WooCommerce eCommerce platform. With fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) you can download Orders from WooCommerce and upload Products from FileMaker at the click of a button – no more double data entry!
  • fmEcommerce Link (Shopify Edition): our solution that integrates between FileMaker and the Shopify eCommerce platform. With fmEcommerce Link (Shopify Edition) you can download Orders from Shopify and upload Products from FileMaker at the click of a button – no more double data entry!
  • fmAccounting Link (MYOB AccountRight Edition): our solution that integrates between FileMaker Pro and the MYOB AccountRight Accounting Software (Australia and New Zealand). MYOB AccountRight runs either in the Cloud or on the Desktop, and fmAccounting Link (MYOB AccountRight Edition) allows you to upload Contacts, Invoices, Payments and more at the click of a button.
  • fmAccounting Link (MYOB Essentials Edition): our latest solution that integrates between FileMaker Pro and the MYOB Essentials Accounting Software, the the easy online accounting software from MYOB (Australia and New Zealand). fmAccounting Link (MYOB Essentials Edition) allows you to upload Contacts, Invoices, Payments and more at the click of a button.

Free 14 day trial versions of all our products are available – get in touch if you would like to trial any of our integration solutions.

If you’re coming to the conference please stop by and say hello. We’d love to demonstrate how you can send and receive SMS/TXT messages using the FileMaker platform and integrate with Xero, WooCommerce, Shopify and more.

fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) Now Supports FileMaker Cloud Server Scripts

We’re pleased to announce that fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) now supports server side scripts when hosted with FileMaker Cloud. There were never any issues when using a FileMaker Cloud hosted version of fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) when using the FileMaker Pro client application as all communication with the Xero API is handled by the plugin running under FileMaker Pro.

Using Perform Script on Server requires a new Linux version of the plug-in to run under FileMaker Cloud which runs on CentOS Linux. We’ve been testing a new version of the BaseElements plugin (v4.0.4) and have not encountered any issues when authenticating with the Xero API and uploading/downloading data between Xero and FileMaker.

If you’re using fmAccounting Link (Xero Edition) with FileMaker Cloud and would like to enable support for Perform Script on Server you just need to upload v4.0.4 of the BaseElements plugin (Linux Version for FileMaker Cloud). In the FileMaker Cloud Admin Console make sure you have first enabled Server Plug-ins and the Install Plug-In File Script Step under Configuration > System Configuration. When the plug-in has been installed successfully it should appear like this:

If you need help with installing the plug-in let us know and we can share a simple file that you can upload to your FileMaker Cloud Server and then perform a script to install the plug-in automatically.

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

2018 – Another Big Year for APIs

2018 was another big year for the API (application programming interface) economy – the ProgrammableWeb directory, which tracks APIs, passed the 19,000-API mark in January of 2018 and currently sits at 20,653 on the last day of 2018. There has been an explosion in growth in the last 5 years, with more than 2,000 APIs being added every year to their directory.

Earlier this year I attended the annual Xero Developer Roadshow in Melbourne and this slide caught my attention (apologies for the resolution/quality):

Xero released their first API in 2007 – the first cloud accounting API – and now receive more than 450 million API calls each month! There was another slide showing the number of ASW Servers they deploy for handling these API calls, which from memory was in the hundreds but could have been in the thousands.

Gartner have been talking about the concept of an API economy for a number of years and that businesses should put APIs at the centre of their digital business platform. An API economy is an enabler for turning a business or organisation into a platform which is something we’ve seen with APIs like the Xero API, which now has 40,000 active developer partners and over 700 certified application partners.

2018 also saw FileMaker, Inc. ship the FileMaker Data API as part of FileMaker Server/Cloud 17 platform. This is the first REST API (Representational State Transfer) from FileMaker which makes connecting other applications and web services much easier. You can now choose your programming language of choice when connecting to the FileMaker Data API – you can even use a FileMaker client such as FileMaker Pro or FileMaker Go which we’ve done on a number of projects (see our earlier article if you’re wondering why you would do this).

We specialise in FileMaker integration here at Databuzz, which more often than not means working with APIs. We’re typically connecting FileMaker to another platform such as Xero for accounting integration or Shopify for ecommerce integration, allowing our customers to easily exchange information between different platforms and streamlining business workflows.

Looking back at the projects we’ve worked on in 2018 here’s a partial list of the APIs that we connected the FileMaker platform to over the last 12 months:

We already have a few projects lined up for 2019 which will see us working on some new APIs for the first time. Now that the FileMaker platform can easily integrate with APIs, both as a client and as a server, working on integration projects has never been easier.

If you would like to discuss integrating FileMaker with an API for your business please get in touch for a free initial consultation to discuss your requirements.

Using DocuSign Webhooks to Push Completed PDF files to FileMaker Server

Earlier this year we wrote about how you can integrate FileMaker with DocuSign, the leading electronic signature platform, to automate the electronic document signing workflow using the FileMaker platform. In that article and video we demonstrated how you could generate a PDF from a FileMaker layout with merge fields then send a document signing request to the recipient using the DocuSign API, all from within FileMaker Pro.

At the time we were manually downloading the completed/signed PDF from DocuSign once we received the email notification from DocuSign that it had been completed. Since that article we done a number of FileMaker/DocuSign integrations and had some requests to automate the downloading of the completed PDF so users don’t need to manually download this. There’s two main options available here – Polling or Webhooks:

  • Polling involves making a request to DocuSign for the current status of an envelope. For example you could create a FileMaker Server scheduled script to run periodically to check the status of a DocuSign request, and then if it is completed download the final PDF. You are limited to checking the status of each envelope to once every 15 minutes – polling rates are checked by DocuSign and exceeding this limit can lead to failures with the automated review process
  • Webhooks are the preferred option as DocuSign can automatically notify you when the status of a DocuSign envelope changes. You don’t have to make unnecessary polling requests to continually check the status of an envelope – DocuSign will notify your application via the URL you specify when setting up your particular webhook.

In our experience we receive the Webhook notification within 15-30 seconds on average after the event without having to make any requests to DocuSign. We just wait for the notification from DocuSign that a request has been completed and then download the completed PDF into a FileMaker container field. We’ve written about how we use Webhooks for some of our other solutions, including XeroWooCommerce and Shopify to be automatically notified of specified events, such as a new online order or a customer payment. Using DocuSign Webhooks is another example of how you can automate your business workflows and remove any unnecessary polling requests.

Here’s a short video showing the ‘Envelope Signed/Completed’ Webhook in action (you can also watch it on YouTube here):

If you would like to discuss integrating DocuSign with your FileMaker solution please get in touch for a free initial consultation to discuss your requirements.

 

fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) Now Supports Order Uploads


Since we first released fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) back in 2016 we’ve had a number of requests from customers asking us to include the ability to upload Orders from FileMaker to WooCommerce. fmEcommerce Link was created from a solution we built for our own business to solve a very pressing problem at the time – automate the downloading of Orders from WooCommerce into FileMaker so we didn’t have to manually enter these one-by-one.

At the time we didn’t see a huge need for having the ability to go the other way, as the whole point of WooCommerce is to handle online orders from your website. Having spoken with our customers who were requesting this and also having used fmEcommerce Link in our own business for a few years we can now see some scenarios where it would be helpful to have the ability to upload Orders entered in FileMaker to WooCommerce, including:

  • not all Orders for your products are entered directly into WooCommerce by all customers. Some customers might receive your product as part of a larger consulting project, or have to use payment methods that are not accepted on your store.
  • sometimes you just need to send the customer to your store to pay for an Order without wanting them to start from scratch and select the various products, add them to the cart and complete the checkout page. There is a way to create an Order for a customer and send them the link to the customer payment page so all they need to do is enter their credit card/payment details (see video below)
  • you might have orders from legacy systems that pre-date your WooCommerce store which you wish to upload so WooCommerce is in sync with your CRM software, allowing customers to be able to login and download updates and see their full history

Having had to enter a number of Orders manually into WooCommerce over the past few years we saw the light and started work on an update to fmEcommerce Link that includes the ability to upload Orders from FileMaker to WooCommerce. We’re pleased to announce that v1.53 of fmEcommerce Link (WooCommerce Edition) is now available as a free update for all existing customers.

When working with Order uploads to WooCommerce please be aware of the following:

  • the tax fields are “read only” in the API so when you upload an Order we then download the updated details from WooCommerce which include the tax amounts that WooCommerce calculates automatically
  • Coupons are not applied when they are included in an Order upload with the REST API v2 that we currently support, so we’ve decided not to include them to avoid any confusion. The REST API v3 that was recently released includes some changes around Automatic total calculations when applying/removing coupons, so this is something we will included when we release an update designed to work with the v3 API
  • if you want to delete an Order Line item you don’t delete the line item in FileMaker – just set the Qty to 0 and include that when uploading and WooCommerce will remove it from the Order for you

Here’s a video showing the Order upload in action, including the ability to retrieve the URL for the customer payment page if you wish to send your customer a link to pay for an Order you create in FileMaker.

 

You can view the full release notes on our version history page.

fmAccounting Link (MYOB AccountRight Edition) v1.3 Update

We’ve just released an update to fmAccounting Link (MYOB AccountRight Edition), our FileMaker solution for integrating with MYOB AccountRight in Australia and New Zealand. Version 1.3 is a big release packed with lots of new examples. Here’s some of the highlights:

  • added Sale Orders examples (download and upload Sale Orders)
  • added Supplier Payments examples (download and upload Supplier Payments)
  • added Inventory Adjustments examples (download and upload Inventory Adjustments)
  • added Inventory Item Price Matrix (Custom Price Levels) examples (download and update Custom Price Levels)
  • added new button/script to just get the Contact Balances from MYOB
  • added button to download current balance from MYOB for an Invoice
  • added button to download any Customer Payments from MYOB for an Invoice

Once again this is a free update for all existing customers. You can view the full release notes on our version history page.

fmEcommerce Link (Shopify Edition) Now Runs Natively on FileMaker 16/17 Platform and supports Order Creation Webhooks

 

We’re pleased to announce that v1.3 of fmEcommerce Link (Shopify Edition) is now available and includes a number of new features, including native support for FileMaker Pro v16 and later. This is a free update to all existing customers (simply download using the same link that was on your original order email).

With the release of the FileMaker 16 platform we got a number of new functions and script steps, including support for working with JSON data and being able to specify supported cURL options with the Insert From URL script step. These new features meant that we were no longer dependent on plug-in functions and we could replace these with native FileMaker features.

We’ve updated all the requests for downloading and uploading to the Shopify API to use native FileMaker functions and script steps so you no longer need to use a FileMaker plug-in if you’re using FileMaker Pro v16 or higher. This means you can also use fmEcommerce Link on FileMaker Go natively (requires FileMaker Go 16 or higher).

Like our previous updates for native FileMaker functionality for our other products we’ve simply updated the scripts to check which version of FileMaker Pro, FileMaker Go or FileMaker Server is being used and if you’re using v15 or earlier we simply use the previous plug-in functionality, and if you’re using v16 or later we now use native functionality. Everything works exactly the same regardless of which version of FileMaker Pro you’re using, but we can now include support for FileMaker Go as well as having one less dependency to worry about.

This release also includes support for Shopify Webhooks – see our earlier post for a short video demonstrating how the Order Creation Webhook works. Instructions for setting up the Order Creation Webhook can be found here.

You can get all the details on our version history page – we’re continuing to work on adding native FileMaker 16 support to our other products, as well as some further updates to fmEcommerce Link (Shopify Edition) including support for processing Fulfilments in FileMaker and uploading to Shopify.

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.