The last Rails Rumble 2010 Sponsor Challenge has finally been announced. It’s for Best Use of Real-Time Communication and the category is sponsored by our friends at Tropo. Want to integrate support for voice / telephony, SMS, or IM into your Rumble app? Check out Tropo’s API (free for developers) and sign up for the sponsor challenge today by editing your team profile!
Note: This is a guest post by one of our event sponsors, Tropo
Connecting to your web site’s users with voice, SMS, or even IM allows you to reach them when they aren’t at their desks. These real-time communications mediums are skyrocketing in usage – who doesn’t have a phone? Thankfully, building an application that works over the phone or instant messaging is easier than you think.
Telephony has traditionally required complicated hardware and software or specialized programming languages. In recent years, however, web programming tools and models ranging from VoiceXML to web services APIs have made it easy for any developer to create communications services. In fact, one developer created a complete clone of Google Voice using Ruby on Rails and Tropo in only 14 days.
An API for your phone number
Have you ever wanted your phone to be answered by your code? When your friends call, you’d like to pick it up, and when telemarketers call, you’d like it to go straight to voicemail. Make an automated call to remind you of an appointment, or even build a conference calling system. With today’s computer telephony you can do all this using only a few lines of code. You don’t even need to install VoIP hardware or software.
Tropo works by converting phone calls, IMs, and text messages to API calls that your code works with. An incoming call or message is delivered to your code and your code tells Tropo what to say back.
Did I just say IMs and Text messages? Yup.
A rising percentage of the population more likely to communicate over text messaging, IM, and social networks than pick up the phone. APIs and customer-self service systems must adapt to the preferences of the customers they want to help.
Over the next decade, 50% of the automated communications that today happens over the telephone will shift to other mediums. It’s important for the applications you develop to be available on the networks your users choose to use.
Try it Yourself
To demonstrate how easy it is to weave voice and text into your application, let’s look at a sample application running on our Tropo cloud communications platform.
We’ve created a mashup for the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) schedules so you can see when the next train is due to arrive at the station of your choice. Call or SMS (407) 374-9954 to try it. Outside the US? You can call from Skype (+99000936 9991430523) or SIP (sip:firstname.lastname@example.org) and all Tropo apps can get local numbers worldwide.
The code behind this can sit in Tropo’s cloud or on the web server of your choice. Other sample applications are available covering everything from simple games to directory assistance, to checking into Foursquare.
To learn more about building voice and text applications and the real-time communications APIs that are available to you, grab a free developer account from Tropo.