Should I Use the Toolkit or the API?

Phone.com offers a wide range of features for you to implement and customize in your applications.

Our telephony features allow you to:

  • Make outgoing and receive incoming calls and SMS messages
  • Set up phone numbers, unlimited extensions and separate voicemail Inboxes for each extension
  • Configure custom call menus, queues and flexible routing options
  • Upload greetings, hold music and audio messages Visual spacer Visual spacer Visual spacer See more features >

As a developer, you can configure these services in the Telephony Toolkit or invoke them using API requests. In many situations, you will want to create or manage Phone.com resources on the fly or allow your end users to do so from outside of your application, in which case you will use the API services.

When to Use the Telephony Toolkit

If you are setting up resources in your Phone.com account to be used later in API requests, it will be easier to do that initial set up using settings in the Telephony Toolkit. For example, you might add a phone number with two extensions and a handful of routes (call handling rules) using the toolkit, and then draw on those resources as you handle phone calls in your application using requests to our API /calls service.

With the toolkit you can:

  • Add phone numbers and extensions
  • Record voicemail, hold music and menu greetings
  • Configure call queues to manage multiple calls to a department
  • Schedule automated calls and SMS messages
  • Set up routes to direct calls or SMS messages to extensions, queues, voicemail or to your application
  • Manage routing schedules
  • Manage contacts and contact groups

For more information, see Using Telephony Toolkit Settings to Set Up Greetings, Menus, Routes and Queues.

When to Use the API

In other situations, you will need to create, use and manage resources in real time using API calls from your application. For example, if you’re a telephony developer, you may want to give users the ability to call into your system and add a new routing rule on their own account—say, to forward all calls to a mobile number after 5:00 P.M. or to add another phone number to a queue. This is something you would do using an API request from your application, since your subscribers cannot access the Telephony Toolkit directly. For more information, see Using the API to Access Your Menus, Queues and Routes.

With the API you can:

  • Make outgoing calls and handle incoming calls
  • Schedule automated calls and bulk SMS messages
  • Use existing voicemail and menu greetings, and upload other media files
  • Set up or manage queues to manage incoming calls
  • Set up routes to direct calls or SMS messages to extensions, queues, voicemail or to your application
  • Access contacts and contact groups
  • Access routing schedules

For more information, see Using the API to Access Your Menus, Queues and Routes.

Consider What You Need to Do

Whether you use our API services or settings in the Telephony Toolkit to implement a Phone.com feature will depend on what you want to achieve. What do you need to do?

Sample Use Cases

Opt-In SMS Discount Notifications

Objective: Moviegoers sign up on your box-office website to receive weekly ticket discounts by SMS.
Solution: Schedule a simple API call to send a group SMS message to your list of subscriber phone numbers, inserting the discount code for that week.

Appointment Reminder Calls

Objective: You want to schedule a phone call to your dental patients a day or two before their appointments.
Solution: Using toolkit settings, add a menu and a message to your Phone.com account (“Press [1] to confirm your appointment, press [2] to cancel,” and so on). Then, using appointment details in your system, schedule a batch phone call using an API request. The Phone.com system calls each patient, plays your menu message, and then processes touch-tone entries from patients, returning confirmation and cancellation details to your system.

SMS Location Updates

Objective: Fans of your city-wide gourmet food trucks call daily to find out where the trucks in their neighborhoods will be. You want to send them a list of daily stops by SMS.
Solution: When customers text the word “where” to a dedicated phone number, your system processes the incoming text and initiates an API call sending an SMS message containing the day’s scheduled stops.

The examples above show how you can make use of toolkit settings and API resources as needed. Generally, if you are configuring resources to invoke later using the API, set them up using the Telephony Toolkit. But if you need to create or manage resources dynamically or from outside of your service, then use the API.

For more information and examples, review our API Tutorials, as well as the topics below.

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