Send an SMS

In Microsoft Flow it is possible to send SMSes. When you want to send an alert out and you want this alert to be sent out by SMS then you can use one of the 5 available connectors!

  • InfobipInforbip, Nexmo, Plivo, Telesign SMS and Twilio are the options to send SMSes from Microsoft Flow.
  • Nexmo
  • Plivo
  • Telesign SMS
  • Twilio

If you already use one of these company’s services then of course the choice will be easy. Stick with what you’ve got,unless you want to change for some reason. If you aren’t using any of these services yet then you might want to know what the differences are.

Registration Experience

Infobip

The info connector offers you 4 steps, 1 trigger and 3 actions

  • When you receive an incoming text message
  • Send a text message
  • Check current balance
  • Make a voice call

I tried to setup a trial but I couldn’t find a trial option on the infobip website.

After looking for a trial on the site somewhere, i decided to just go for the get started/contact sales options. This actually got my trial started. The website could be a bit clearer by having a start trial button.

I got the following message so it looks like I’ve got to wait for a while.

You'll be up and running in no time

Hmm, not the quick response I was hoping for. I had however a chat with infobip and this is something that is done on purpose. Infobip wants to avoid negative uses like SMS spamming and therefore their processes are a bit more on the careful side. I guess depending on the type of service that you are looking for this can be a good thing.

Nexmo

The Nexmo connector offers you 9 actions

  • Send an SMS
  • Create new application
  • Delete an Application
  • Get application bvy Id
  • List applications
  • List inbound numbers
  • List owned numbers
  • Send a speech file
  • update an application

The Nexmo sign up process felt good. An automated form to fill in and the API key was given to me without any questions. I just had to use my mobile to receive a confirmation SMS. Isn’t this what you would expect form an SMS service? The sign up process was great!

Plivo

The Plivo connector gives you  4 actions

  • Make a call
  • Send SMS
  • Get message
  • List all messages

The Plivo signup process was an automated process sending out an account activation email. I did get a ‘personalised’ email after a while, but the account activation email didn’t arrive for a while as it got stuck in corporate spam filters. I wish there was an SMS signup service here.  Once I got my email and I activated my account I was asked to verify my phone number as well. The email confirmation is really held back my trial for a while.

Telesign SMS

The Telesign SMS connector only offers you one actions

Passwordrequirement check dialogue that doesn't always go away.

  • Send SMS message

I tried signing up on TeleSign SMS site however getting past the password check seemed to be challenging.

First I could’t get past the registration form as the password requirement check doesn’t seem to not work very well.

After trying a few different passwords the dialogue was happy but the register button still didn’t do anything.

A few days later I tried again and then I found it working.

When I signed up for an account however I was asked to install the Telesign SDK. Hmm, I’don;’t really want to go down the developers route. The whole idea of Microsoft Flow is that I can avoid the coding paths. During the registration process I got 1 Verification SMS and 4 emails asking for information and to supply information. This didn’t give the lightweight experience that I found with the other connectors.

Twilio

The Twilio connector offers 3 actions:

  • Get Message
  • List Messages
  • Send Text Message (SMS)

Twilio also used an SMS service to confirm my account.

Configuration Experience

Ok, 4 out of 5 companies made it easy to signup to their service. I’m still working on the Infobip one.

  • Twilio
  • Nexmo
  • Plivo
  • Telesign

I created a flow to test all of the SMS service providers. I created parallel actions for all of the SMS platforms

Parallel Send SMS actions

A bit of trial and error

Ok, it looks like one worked and the other hasn’t worked. But actually they both failed. The error handling however for both connectors works in a different way.

Running flows. Twilio fails properly where Nexmo succeeds even when the SMS fails to send.

The Nexmo action returned:

[
{
"status": "4",
"error-text": "Bad Credentials"
}
]

The Twilio error handling is more Flow like as it gives me a failed action.

{
"code": 21211,
"message": "The 'To' number +441234567890 is not a valid phone number.",
"more_info": "https://www.twilio.com/docs/errors/21211",
"status": 400
}

In both cases however I’m able to collect the status in my Flow and then act upon the status, therefore it probably doesn’t really matter that  I don’t have to use the Run after options in Microsoft Flow.

I tried to make Twilio work so that I could SMS my UK phone, but so far so success yet. I copied the telephone number form the working Nexmo action and still I couldn’t get it to work. It would help if the Twilio action could tell me what it expects.

Making Nexmo work

The Nexmo connection details in the initial dialogue gave some invalide API key as there is “(master)” included when you copy paste the API key. Remove this and things will work.

I still got this one. But you can solve this within your Nexmo portal.

[
{
"to": "4407775503224",
"status": "29",
"error-text": "Non White-listed Destination - rejected"
}
]

One of the things that I really like about the Nexmo connector is that when you send an SMS you can send the SMS from a ‘no number’.

In my case I received an SMS from My Flow after I configured the following step:

Sender Id set to text

Making Twilio work

I found making Twilio work slightly harder than Nexmo. This is probably mainly down to the Twilio trial model. With Twilio, you can choose a number to send your SMSes, Faxes, etc from. This does however mean that you need to have a number that is SMS enabled. Once the right number was enabled all started to work. Therefore make sure that your outgoing number has the SMS capability enabled.

Twilio with SMS capability

Making Plivo work

The Flivo connector was easy to configure. The only negative I found on my way is that it doesn’t like sending an SMS from my own number and the Send an SMS action failedwhen I tried to do so. But then this was easily solved by using another number. I received a test message within less than 5 minutes.

Making Telesign work

To make the Telesign SMS Message action work. I just had to fill in the following form:

Send an SMS action in Telesign

And quite quickly I got the following error message again. Like some of the other connectors the action doesn’t fail in flow even though the action didn’t work. Therefore you will need to get your flow to check the status

This product is not enabled for this CustomerId

The problem above was that I hadn’t included the country code. Telesign requires a country code to be included but without the + sign.

Making infobip work

Once I received a login I managed to send myself an SMS. Like Nexmo I found that infobip can also send SMSes from a non-number. As shown below I simply added my name.

 

Costs

If you are interested in the costs, please have a look at the Nexmo pricing page.

If you are interested in the costs, please have a look at the Twilio pricing page.

The pricing details for Plivo can be found on the Plivo pricing page.

The pricing details for Telesign can be found on the Telesign pricing page

Infobip doesn’t publish their pricing model. Their sales team will need to be contacted.

Feature Comparison

Some of the below features might be available as a service through

Feature Infobip Nexmo Plivo Telesign Twilio
Send an SMS Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Trigger on incoming message Yes No No No No
Get/List message No No Yes No Yes
Check balance from Flow Yes No No No No
Voice Call Yes Yes Yes No No
Error Handling (using run after status) Yes No Yes No Yes
Preview Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Trial No easy trial Yes Yes Yes Yes
Speed (1 – 5) where 1 is fastest 5 1 2 4 3
Cost Not published $0.0069 Starts at $0.0050 $0.0065 (Depends on location) $0.0075

My thoughts

For services like SMS it is important to get things working rapidly. Anything that stops me from making a solution work within 30 minutes could be a reason to pick another one of the competing products. All of the products required me to register on their websites and then add access codes to my Flow connectors. This process is quite similar for all products. There are some minor differences between the products on how they handle the number configurations but that is hardly a reason to select one or the other.

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