Why do SMS messages require three Visual Studio debugging sessions…

I had to blog about the fact I am currently watching three active Visual Studio debugging sessions on my workstation. Also it gives me an opportunity to describe a little bit about our new product release. About a month ago one of customers asked us if we could come up with a way to use text messaging for one of their processes. Their process of tracking employee availability requires their employees to call in once a day so a rep can mark them as available. The customer had the brainstorm of allowing employees to send a text message instead of calling they could save a lot of the employee’s and rep’s time.

Project scope in hand I knew the scenario would be simple to code for the customer. I wanted to take the project further. The idea of being able to support sending a message to an employee and getting their reply crossed my mind. Other folks around the office had other ideas for text message uses like reporting hours worked and assignment information. I also wanted it to be simple for our customers to implement regardless of their version of TempWorks. I came up with a three tier system. The heart of the system is our SMS gateway server we maintain here at TempWorks. The SMS gateway routes all messages both incoming and outgoing for all customers. With this set up our customers only need to deal with us and not worry about having to establishing accounts with SMS providers. Tiers two and three are installed on the customer side. Tier two is a basic web service interface to receive messages from the SMS gateway. Tier three is our SQLCLR assembly that takes care of sending messages to the SMS gateway.

Debugging these projects isn’t difficult, it's almost a little fun watching messages flow thru the three debugging screens. Since the SMS gateway will be routing all SMS messages back and forth I spent considerable time trying to make all my code multithread compatible. It’s amazing how easy Visual Studio 2008 make this. From whiteboard to the customer demo today, it only took me about 32 man-hours.

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