Legal Design Tool: Automatic Text Service

Set up your own text-messaging service for free. « SMS 411.

If your legal design project may involve texting, particularly to ‘non-smart’ or dumb phones, then TextMarks may be a useful development tool to prototype an automatic texting system.

You don’t have to be a big company to set up a text-message auto-response system. With TextMarks, you can set up a quick-and-dirty text message information system for free. It’s a great way to stay in touch with your customers or friends, to promote your website or services, or just to provide useful information.

To use TextMarks for receiving information, you send short codes to the TextMarks number (41411). TextMarks then sends the information back that corresponds to the code you sent.

For example, someone set up the code “sftides” — so if you send an SMS containing the word “sftides” to 41411, you’ll get the latest ocean tides for San Francisco. The image of the phone on this post shows what you get when you send the code “kqed” — it’s what’s currently playing on the radio station KQED.

The brilliant part is that it’s really easy to set up your own TextMarks codes. You just need to pick a short code that isn’t already being used on TextMarks. Then you tell TextMarks what information to deliver when somebody sends that code to TextMarks. This could be a short piece of text, or you can tell TextMarks to pull a specific piece of information from a page on your web site.

Or, you can set up a subscription service — essentially an SMS mailing list — so you can send text messages to everyone who has subscribed. For example, if you send the code “ufos” you’ll be subscribed to an alert service for major UFO sightings. (Pretty useful if you anticipate an alien invasion!)

Whenever someone sends a text message with your code to the TextMarks number (41411), they’ll get an SMS reply containing the information you specified, or they’ll be subscribed to your info service if that’s what you’ve set up.

I set up the code “haiku” to send the latest poem from my daily haiku site. To do it, I had to tell TextMarks where to find the text of the day’s haiku on the site’s homepage. I did that by giving it information about two specific HTML tags. On your site, you might use something different.

It took all of about 5 minutes to set up the code and test it. Now anyone can get the day’s haiku just by texting “haiku” to 41411.

Some other TextMarks you can send to 41411 include:

leo, aquarius, virgo, etc: Daily horoscope for that zodiac sign
trackups [tracking number]: Shipping status for a UPS package
checkwoot: what’s on sale today at
haha: joke of the day

There’s an extensive list of TextMarks on the site, and you can test each one out right on the web page using TextMarks’ handy simulator.


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