Revisiting Kerala eSMS service for updated versions of Koha ILS

If you are a Koha user from Kerala using the eSMS send driver written by us and found out that your SMS alerts have stopped after upgrading to 17.05 or later, then you should definitely read this.

For the impatient: Koha users from Kerala using the SMS::Send::IN::eSMS send driver, often find that after upgrading from 16.11 or earlier versions, their SMS alerts from Koha had stopped working. Usually this affects users who had used this previous blog post as the installation guide. This post addresses that and shows how to get SMS working again for eSMS service on 18.11 or later versions.

For the *really* impatient: Jump directly to the section Handling SMS::Send::IN:eSMS on supported versions of Koha

Background

About 3 years back, in early February 2017, we had published the only open-source SMS::Send driver implementation for Kerala Government’s eSMS transactional bulk SMS service for use with Koha ILS. The development was sponsored courtesy the State Librarian, Kerala State Central Library, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

That time the latest stable version of Koha was 16.11. Up until then Koha’s C4/SMS.pm which acts as a wrapper against SMS::Send posed a small problem for Indian users thanks to a the requirement of senderid by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). Koha provided only two fields – the login and password fields. We in India needed three. So, we had to hack C4/SMS.pm as documented here.

The big change

At the end of May 2017, Koha 17.05 was released and with it came Bug id #13029. In the Release Notes, bug 13029 was defined as “Allow to pass additional parameters to SMS::Send drivers”.

This was a game-changer. We no longer needed to hack C4/SMS.pm. Handling extra parameters like SenderIDs, API keys or for that matter any arbitrary parameter(s) specific to a particular bulk transactional message provider could now be handled using a simple YAML file. The path to this YAML file is defined in koha-conf.xml and therefore making it instance-specific and multi-tenant friendly. <sms_send_config>/etc/koha/sites/<your_instance_name>/sms_send/</sms_send_config>

Handling SMS::Send::IN:eSMS on supported versions of Koha

At the time of writing, the supported versions of Koha are 19.11, 19.05 and 18.11. If your version is lower than 18.11, you should really upgrade. There are just three things to keep in mind; (a) there is no change in the SMS::Send::IN::eSMS code, it works out of the box provided you took care of “c” below; (b) no more hand editing C4/SMS.pm to handle the senderid parameter; and (c) you now need to create a YAML file eSMS.yaml at /etc/koha/sites/<your_instance_name>/sms_send/IN/eSMS.yaml with just the following text:

senderid: <put_your_senderid_here>

Well, that’s it! It just works!

P.S. The lawyer says we must add this – L2C2 Technologies or everyone associated with it, disclaims any and all responsibilities in the event of someone facing loss, damages either financial, operational or any problem whatsoever, due to or in course of following this blog post or any other on this blog. The information presented here is on AS-IS basis for personal educational purpose alone. This post is licensed under CC 4.0 BY-SA.

L2C2 Technologies extends technological support to KLA for open access journal

L2C2 Technologies to provide OJS software hosting and maintenance along with publishing support to Kerala Library Association for KJIST for the next 5 years.

Earlier today the first open access (OA) LIS journal from Kerala, India – “The Kerala Library Association Journal of Information Science & Technology” (KJIST) was launched with the release of its inaugural issue – Vol. 1 No. 1 July 2018 by Dr. Rajan Gurukkal (Vice Chairman, Kerala State Higher Education Council) at the DLIS Hall, Kerala University Library Building, Thiruvananthapuram.

As the first open access LIS journal being published from Kerala, all articles published in KJIST will be available online at https://www.kjist.in for reading and download. As the technology support partner L2C2 Technologies is providing the journal publishing software hosting & maintenance along with publishing support to Kerala Library Association for KJIST, initially for a period of 5 years. The journal is being hosted using the latest stable version of Open Journal Systems (OJS) journal publishing platform.

While readers are not required to register at the site to read the articles, registered users will receive automatic updates about articles and issues as and when they are published. The privacy policy is GDPR compliant and all personal data submitted by the readers, authors, reviewers and editors are maintained on servers geographically located in India. Mandatory SSL has been implemented for the site, so that when users interact with the site, e.g. when they login or read or download articles, all their transactions remain securely encrypted end-to-end at all times. L2C2 Technologies will also be providing KLA with in-depth usage statistics and data analytics for the online Journal site.

About KJIST

KLA Journal of Information Science and Technology (KJIST) is published twice every year (January and July) in open access (OA) and print formats. It will include original papers, short communications, book reviews and letters pertaining to library science, information science and related fields. The papers included will focus on aspects of exploring, applying, and evaluating new theories and ideas to develop and modernize libraries and enhance library services. It is meant for library professionals, documentation and information professionals, researchers, students and others interested in the library and information science field.

About Kerala Library Association

Formed in 1972 by a group of librarians who strongly felt the need for an independent professional association at the state level to promote the cause of library development, professional standards of librarians, entirely dedicated for libraries and librarians, the Kerala Library Association (KLA) is headquartered at Thiruvananathapuram, the capital of the state of Kerala, India.The association has boldly voiced the sentiments and the views of professionals on several occasions to the concerned authorities. It has successfully projected the need for improving library services in College & Universities. KLA helped the Government to formulate policies in relation to library development in the state.

Good news for Koha users in Kerala : SMS Send driver for eSMS Kerala service released as Free Software (FOSS)

ANNOUNCEMENT: L2C2 Technologies has released the SMS::Send::IN::eSMS driver required by Koha ILS users using the eSMS Kerala service provided by the Kerala State IT Mission under a Free Software license. The development of the driver was made possible by the funding support of the State Librarian, State Central Library, Thiruvananthapurm (Trivandrum), Kerala, with KELTRON (Kerala State Electronics Development Corporation Ltd) acting as the facilitator. Any Koha library in the state of Kerala who are eligible to use the eSMS Kerala SMS service (provided by KSITM) can now freely implement SMS support using this driver.

With this release, it becomes the second open source regional SMS::Send driver now available to Indian Koha users that can be freely downloaded from the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network or CPAN.

Sending SMSes from Koha

For a long time now Koha has supported sending of SMS (short message service) text messages to library patrons and users about account creation, issue, return, fines, holds, overdues, purchase suggestions etc. To send out SMSes from Koha, we have to use the SMS service of a bulk transactional SMS service provider who provides that service.

What are SMS::Send drivers and why does Koha need them?

In order to communicate with the service provider’s messaging sending interface (also called messaging API), Koha uses a type of software called “SMS::Send driver”. The “catch” being that each service provider requires a different SMS Send driver. Sort of like the SIM card in our cellphones e.g. if we wish to use a Vodafone number we must have a Vodafone SIM card. However, unlike a SIM card the SMS::Send driver which is a software module written in the PERL language is not provided by the SMS service provider. Either one has to use a Free & Open Source send driver that already exists OR one has to write one by referring to (usually) the HTTP API of the SMS provider.

About eSMS Kerala

eSMS is an exclusive SMS Gateway established by the Kerala State IT Mission for use by various government departments for providing departmental services over mobile phones.

Downloading the driver

The SMS::Send::IN:eSMS driver can directly downloaded from CPAN by visiting http://search.cpan.org/~indradg/SMS-Send-IN-eSMS-0.01/lib/SMS/Send/IN/eSMS.pm or from L2C2 Technologies’s public repository on Github at https://github.com/l2c2technologies/sms-send-in-esms.

See also

1. “Koha and key lessons of using transactional SMS in India” – https://www.facebook.com/notes/l2c2-technologies/koha-and-key-lessons-of-using-transactional-sms-in-india/805775296178372