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How to Receive SMS Messages with ASP.NET MVC Framework

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How to Receive SMS Messages with ASP.NET MVC Framework

My previous tutorial explained how to use the Nexmo C# Client Library to send your first SMS message from an ASP.NET MVC web app. In this follow-up, I continue exploring the Nexmo Platform by showing how to receive SMS messages on a Nexmo phone number using the C# Client Library.


Receive Webhooks on Your Localhost with Ngrok

The Nexmo SMS API uses webhooks to inform your ASP.NET web application that an incoming text message has been sent to one of your Nexmo phone numbers. In order to do this, Nexmo needs to be able to make an HTTP request to a public URL. Since we’re developing our app on our local machine, we need to create a local tunnel that gives our machine a public URL. We will be using ngrok to expose the port over the internet to easily communicate with the Nexmo platform during this testing phase. This approach saves you from having to deploy your application.

Download ngrok and run the following command in Command Prompt (replace the port number with the number of the port you wish to run the app on).

ngrok http 8080 -host-header="localhost:8080"

Ngrok URL

The command above allows your local server (running on the port above) to have a public URL that will be used to forward the incoming texts (HTTP requests) back to your local server. The host header needs to be specified to make sure the host header of the application and ngrok match and to ensure the requests will not be rejected.

Diving Into Code

In the previous tutorial, we created an ASP.NET MVC project and added another controller called SMSController.cs. Next, we created two action methods. One method was to present the view for the details of the SMS (destination number and message text) and the other was to retrieve the values from the form and send an SMS.

Continuing the project from the previous blog post, let's create an action method called ‘Receive’ in SMSController.cs. This path will be receiving the inbound SMS data as we will be setting the Nexmo webhook (later in this tutorial) to our ngrok URL with the route of ‘SMS/Receive’.

Add [FromUri] in the parameter to read the incoming SMS. In order to be able to use [FromUri], you need to install the following package: Microsoft.AspNet.WebApi.Core. Above this method, add an HTTPGetAttribute to restrict the method to accepting only GET requests. If the value for response.to (the Nexmo phone number) and msidsn (the sender) are not null, print out the message to the output window using Debug.WriteLine. Else, the endpoint was hit as a result of something other than an incoming SMS. (This can happen when you first set up your webhook. We’ll see this shortly.)

public ActionResult Receive([FromUri]SMS.SMSInbound response)
    if (null != response.to && null != response.msisdn)
        Debug.WriteLine("INCOMING TEXT");
        Debug.WriteLine("From: " + response.msisdn);
        Debug.WriteLine(" Message: " + response.text);
        return new HttpStatusCodeResult(200);
    else {
        Debug.WriteLine("Endpoint was hit.");
        return new HttpStatusCodeResult(200);

Run the ASP.NET Web App

In the Solution Explorer, expand the project and click Properties. Click the Web tab and change the Project URL to the same port you are exposing via ngrok. Finally, run the project.

Project settings

Set the SMS Callback Webhook URL for Your Nexmo Number

Next, head over to the Nexmo Dashboard and navigate to the Settings page. Towards the bottom, you will see Callback for Inbound SMS under the API Settings. Paste the ngrok URL inside the textbox and add /SMS/Receive to the end of it. This will route the message to Receive action in the SMS controller.

Ngrok API Settings

If you prefer to use a command-line interface, you can also achieve this using the Nexmo CLI. Open up Terminal and install the Nexmo CLI via npm. Next, set up the CLI with your api_key and api_secret to link your Nexmo account. Lastly, update the callback URL for the Nexmo number you chose to receive the SMS messages on.

npm install nexmo-cli -g
nexmo setup api_key api_secret
nexmo link:sms 1231231234 https://www.example.ngrok.io/SMS/Recieve

Receive an SMS with ASP.NET

You are ready to go! With your ASP.NET web app running, open up the output window in Visual Studio. Send an SMS to your Nexmo phone number and you will see the incoming texts coming through! Your ASP.NET web app is able to receive SMS messages that are sent to your Nexmo phone number via an inbound webhook!

Feel free to reach out via e-mail or Twitter if you have any questions!

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