Building Google Voice with Rails, Backbone, and Twilio

Short Form


Google Voice may seem like it's performing black magic, but every developer can integrate the same features into their applications today.


Google Voice is an amazing tool for personal telecommunications. From a technical perspective, it might seem like black magic to secure a local phone number, send a text message, or make a voice call all from the browser. But using Rails and Twilio, you can build an application with the same features yourself (or integrate those features into an app you’re building already).

In this presentation, we will demo and walk through an open source Ruby on Rails implementation of core features in Google Voice. Our Rails app will present a web UI (rich client, based on Backbone) to purchase numbers, send texts, record voicemail, and make calls from the browser. Previous Rails or JavaScript experience will be useful to understand the code under discussion, but is not strictly necessary. The same features can be deployed in any web application.

In an attempt to conserve a precious business resource, this presentation will be 100% slide free.

Speaking experience

As a developer evangelist for Twilio (and Appcelerator before that) I have been lucky enough to speak at hundreds of developer meetups, conferences, and workshops over the last five years, including OSCON, JSConf, BlackBerry Jam, and many others.


  • Kevin


    Kevin Whinnery is a developer evangelist for Twilio. Kevin is also a front end development chameleon, having built rich client applications in the browser with HTML and JavaScript, as well as a rogue’s gallery of frameworks including Windows Presentation Foundation, Apache Flex, and OpenLaszlo (yes, that’s a thing). As an engineer and developer evangelist for Appcelerator, Kevin built (or helped others to build) hundreds of native mobile apps, including number one App Store hits and apps topping millions of downloads.

    Today, Kevin maintains the Twilio library for node.js and supports the web developers changing communications forever.

    Kevin is based in Saint Paul, Minnesota where he lives with his beautiful wife and three devious children.