Skip to content


Switch branches/tags

Name already in use

A tag already exists with the provided branch name. Many Git commands accept both tag and branch names, so creating this branch may cause unexpected behavior. Are you sure you want to create this branch?

Latest commit


Git stats


Failed to load latest commit information.
Latest commit message
Commit time

ODK SMS Bridge

Build Status

An app for sending SMS messages with and without user confirmation.


The ODK SMS Bridge lets you send SMS messages with an Intent. Sending SMS messages via Intents is supported by default in Android. Unfortunately, doing so always launches a messaging app and requires user confirmation.

Android 4.4 introduced the SmsManager, which lets you send messages without an external app. However! There is no way to trigger it using an Intent.

This app is a small wrapper around both methods that lets you use either technique via an Intent. A require_confirmation boolean variable selects which method is used.

While not currently on the Play Store, you can download the latest snapshot build here.

For more information on the Open Data Kit (ODK) project, please see the project homepage or developer page.


The ODK SMS Bridge is designed to be called from other apps via Intents. However, the welcome screen of the app lets you enter a phone number and message body and send messages using both supported techniques: with and without user confirmation.

In this way you can see what the user will experience when using your app.

The welcome screen of the app, allowing debugging.

In Native Android Apps

Interact with the ODK SMS Bridge using an Intent. Arguments maybe be passed in the extras Bundle.

The code below sends a message to number 3605551234 with the content This is a fancy message..

Intent intent = new Intent();

ComponentName componentName = new ComponentName(


Bundle bundle = new Bundle();

// False to send an SMS immediately without the user stepping in.
// True to require user intervention.
bundle.putBoolean("require_confirmation", false);
bundle.putString("message_body", "This is a fancy message.");
bundle.putString("phone_number", "3605551234");



In ODK Survey

The ODK SMS Bridge can also be called from ODK Survey by defining a custom prompt type. See the ODK page for more information.

Custom prompts are defined in a file called customPromptTypes.js. If your form ID is my_form, and the ID of the table this form saves data to is my_table, the full path of this file would be app/my_table/forms/my_form/customPromptTypes.js.

In this example we'll define a new prompt type called send_sms and use it in a form.

The files are explained below. You can also find the files themselves in the surveyFiles directory.

First, let's set up our form. It will consist of three prompts: a name, a phone number, and the button that sends an SMS.

This will require three worksheets: survey, prompt_types, and settings.

Our survey sheet will look like this:

type name display.text
text name Enter a Name
text phone_number Enter a Phone Number
send_sms send_message Send an SMS

Our prompt_types sheet will define our custom send_sms type:

prompt_type_name type
send_sms integer

Note! In this example we're not actually saving anything in this prompt, so the type doesn't matter.

And finally our settings sheet looks like this:

setting_name value display.title
form_id sms_example
form_version 20141011
survey SMS Example
table_id sms_example

And now we need to tell Survey what to do with our custom prompt type. This happens in the customPromptTypes.js file, which should be placed in the same directory as the .xlsx file defining the form and the formDef.json file.

define(['promptTypes', 'jquery', 'underscore', 'prompts'],
    function(promptTypes, $, _, prompts) {
        return {
          'send_sms': promptTypes.launch_intent.extend({
            type: 'send_sms',
            datatype: 'send_sms',
            buttonLabel: {
              'default': 'Send an SMS'
            // The bulk of this function was taken from a launch_intent prompt
            // in prompts.js. This is only needed if you need to access data
            // collected in the same form when sending an SMS. All the
            // statements except those beginning with that.intentParameters
            // need to remain in order to preserve normal functionality.
              function(ctxt) {
                var that = this;
                var value = that.getValue();
                // We'll overwrite the default message with our custom message.
                that.intentParameters.extras.message_body =
                    'Hello, ' +
                    that.database.getDataValue('name') +
                that.intentParameters.extras.phone_number =
                that.renderContext.value = value;
                that.renderContext.buttonLabel = that.buttonLabel;
            intentString: 'org.opendatakit.smsbridge.activity.SMSDispatcherActivity',
            intentParameters: {
              extras: {
                require_confirmation: true,
                message_body: 'Default message body',

Note! If you don't want to require user confirmation, set the require_confirmation variable to false. However, be aware that the app currently doesn't aim to gracefully handle the case where there is no cell service.

The generated form will have three questions on three different screens. The first will collect a name, the second a number, and the third will be a button that sends an SMS. Clicking the button will ask for user confirmation and send a message saying hello to the entered phone number.

The send SMS prompt in ODK Survey.


SMS messages are sent by the SMSDispatcherActivity. This activity has no user interface. It interprets arguments passed via an Intent (see Usage) and finishes immediately. This is the Activity callers should invoke.

The main screen of the app is the WelcomeActivity. It exists to allow users to see what interactions with the SMSDispatcherActivity are like. Two buttons let you send a message with or without user confirmation to give you a sense of the different user experiences.

Building and Contributing

The original structure of the project came from deckard-gradle. Follow their setup instructions to build the project.

It uses the Android Gradle build system.


Tests can be run from the root directory with the command ./gradlew clean test.

They can also be run within IntelliJ, provided you follow the setup instructions from deckard-gradle.

Not Currently Supported by Core ODK Team

This app is currently not supported by the core Open Data Kit (ODK) team.

However, this is a supported project. Feel free to open issues and use it, but for now you can't necessarily count on support from the entire ODK core team.


An app for sending SMS messages with and without user confirmation.






No packages published