Create message content for text (SMS), pager, and generic notifications

The Text Message / Pager / Generic dialog box allows you to create content for text (SMS), pager, and generic device notifications that are used for the associated form.

While Mozilla Firefox is a supported browser, the text (SMS) / pager / generic message editor is only supported in Internet Explorer 11 and Google Chrome.

Best practices for SMS messages

Individual SMS messages are limited to a maximum of 160 8- or 16-bit characters. Messages longer than 160 characters are broken into smaller segments that are sent individually and then reassembled on the recipient's device. If any of the segments are lost or delayed, the resulting message can't be reconstructed properly and the remaining pieces might be reassembled with gaps or in the wrong order, or discarded entirely.

SMS messages sent via xMatters can have a maximum of 3 segments for 8-bit character messages or 7 segments for 16-bit character messages. This means that SMS messages can be a maximum of 459 characters, which must include all responses, regulatory text, etc. If a message is longer than this limit, xMatters truncates the message body as necessary to make room for the response options.

Because SMS messages are subject to these and other inherent limitations, we recommend taking some extra time when building out your messages for text devices to ensure you're creating effective, useful SMS notifications.

Tips, tricks, and recommendations

  • Don't use SMS for longer messages: If your notifications are consistently longer than 459 characters, or you find that recipients require a lot of supplemental information with their alerts, consider switching to the xMatters mobile apps for urgent or complicated communications. The mobile apps allow for a greater variety of response options, and offer plenty of additional features that make them superior to SMS. They also have a much more readable format for longer messages!
  • Be aware that some carriers add information to every text message: Some SMS providers require that xMatters adds regulatory information to the end of each message it sends. This could include information about how to opt out, get extra help, or identifying xMatters as the sender. If the regulatory text makes the message too long, xMatters must truncate the message body to make room for it.
  • Remember the response options. As mentioned above, xMatters will truncate longer message bodies as necessary to make sure there's enough room to include all of the response options. If you're relying heavily on SMS, you may need to reconsider the number of response options available, or look for ways to reduce the length of each choice.
  • Be wary of special characters: Some special characters take up more than one spot, so the actual character count of a message might be different from what it looks like in the editor. In addition, some carriers might strip out any special characters or replace them with a different character or empty space. If you're composing messages using a rich-text editor (such as Microsoft Word), disable the AutoCorrect and AutoFormat settings to make sure it isn't replacing plain text with special characters - or be sure to paste your message into a plain-text editor before pasting it into the xMatters editor.
  • Be selective when adding properties: Remember that properties shown in the editor may be a lot longer in the actual message. Consider the properties included in each SMS message carefully and try to anticipate which ones would be most useful in the short format available.