(DM-1) Messages Overview

Communication with clients and attendees is huge part of successfully hosting workshops, classes and events. While some of that communication will be very specific to a particular client's situation, a large amount is very repetitive and can be automated by Workshop Angel.
The following two chapters are dedicated to how that process works. This chapter is about all the different ways you can define messages, and the following one is about all the ways you can send them.
Let's dig into the details!

So What is a Message?

A message in Workshop Angel is an item that has two parts:
  • Text to be sent via email
  • Text to be sent via a messaging system. At the moment this means Text/SMS, but could be expanded to include other systems in the future.

How are Messages Made to be Generic?

We need a way to define messages where we can define to structure of the message, and allow information to be added on an attendee by attendee basis.
It would be really tedious to have to type the name of an attendee, their activity name, how much they have just paid you, and other situation specific things before each message can be sent out.

Introducing... SHORTCODES!

The way we deal with this is through the idea of a Shortcode. This is some specific text within square brackets, which the app knows to replace with some attendee specific information.
Here are some examples:
  • [First Name]
  • [Last Name]
  • [Activity]
  • [Payment Amount Due]
There is a pre-determined set of shortcodes you can use, and some you can only use in certain types of message. We will cover the details later in this chapter.
Here is an example of a message with shortcodes:
Dear [First Name],
This email is to confirm we have received your booking for our [Event] being held in [Location Area] [On Event Date]. We will send you further details about the workshop shortly.
We look forward to seeing you.
Best wishes, [From First Name]

Message Types and Topics

So we can maintain some order with messages, they have a Type and a Topic.

Message Types

A message Type relates to the kind of item the message is reporting information on.
Here are the Types:
  • Activity - this is a general message about an activity, such as the joining instructions.
  • Booking / Invoice - this message relates to a specific booking/invoice, and can contain information about invoiced amounts and amounts due at a specific time.
  • Payment - this relates to a specific payment and is generally used to report on a payment being received.
  • Waiting List - these messages relate to someone who has been placed on a waiting list for an activity.
  • Generic - these messages are not about any of the above, and can only use shortcodes to relate to the person it is sent to or the sender.

Message Topics

Every individual message has a Topic. There are a number of pre-defined Topics which have a message in each activity, and you can also create customised messages which you give your own Topic name to.
Here are some examples of the pre-defined topics, with their type in brackets:
  • Payment Received (Payment type)
  • Joining Instructions (Activity type)
  • Payment Due (Booking/Invoice type)
We will discuss the complete list and the fine details of how you work with them over the next few lessons.

Message Editing and Viewing

As we discussed in lesson DA-6, when working with messages we have the idea of:

Editing Messages

Where we are modifying the text, including the short codes:

Viewing Messages

where we are seeing an example of how to message will look when the shortcodes are populated with real information:

Images and Attachments

We will also learn later in this chapter how it is possible to upload images and attachment links which can be included in the email part of messages to make the content very rich.

Summary

We have discussed how important messages are to activity administration, and that we can create very powerful generic messages using the concept of shortcodes to extract information from the database.
We've looked at how messages are categories through the Type of item they refer to (activity, booking, payment etc), and the Topic name a specific message is given, for example Joining Instructions.
Finally, we have looked at the idea of being able to edit a messages text and view how it will look when sent, and how images and attachments can be included to the email component.
Great! That is the big picture... let's now take a look in some more detail at the Standard Messages defined for each activity.