Beacon for Android

For issues or questions, contact Help Scout support at help@helpscout.com

Requirements

The minimum supported SDK is 21 (Android 5.0), you should compile your app with at least API version 29 (Android 10.0) and set your source and target compatibility to JavaVersion.VERSION_1_8. If you need to support below SDK 21, it’s possible to create multiple APKs for different API levels. You also need to create a new open new email fallback. The Beacon SDK only needs Internet permission.

  • SDK reference - generated Javadocs for all public classes/methods
  • Changelog – get a list of recent changes to the Beacon SDK

Sample application

We’ve created an open-source sample repository with several sample apps that you can reference during your implementation. We hope it’s helpful!

Installation

JCenter

The Beacon Android SDK is distributed as AAR and available from JCenter, so simply add the following lines to your app’s build.gradle file.

dependencies {
  implementation "com.helpscout:beacon-ui:$beaconVersion"
}

Once you sync the Gradle project, you’ll be ready to initialize Beacon.

Bintray

You can download the .aar files from our repository on bintray.com

  • Beacon UI Beacon UI download

Usage

Initialize Beacon

You can find setup code and your Beacon ID in the web Beacon builder by clicking “Installation” on the left sidebar, then navigating to “Android” in the options displayed at the top.

Once you’ve located the Beacon ID, you are ready to initialize the library. If you only display one Beacon, the Application.onCreate() method of your Application class is a great place to initialize the SDK. If you won’t know the Beacon ID at Application start or running multiple Beacons, you’ll need to make sure to add the following call to the Beacon.Builder() before you launch BeaconActivity.

Beacon beacon = new Beacon.Builder()
  .withBeaconId("YOUR_BEACON_ID_HERE")       
  .build();

Beacon ID field is mandatory. Failing to provide it will throw an SDKInitException when an interaction with the Beacon object is done.

We use a Provider to to handle the initialization of the SDK with Application Context. You can disable Auto Init by adding the following meta-data tag to your manifest

<meta-data android:name="com.helpscout.beacon.SDKAutoInitialise" android:value="false" />

However if Auto Init is disabled, you need to pass a context to Beacon.Builder.withContext() to manually init the Beacon.

Open Beacon

Once you’ve initialized Beacon, you’re ready to interact with it. Whenever you want to invoke Beacon, use the code below to display the Beacon user interface.

BeaconActivity.open(context);

There isn’t an explicit method for closing the Beacon; instead, the user closes it when they tap the close button or navigate away using the back button.

Developer options

It’s possible to launch the Beacon SDK in developer mode. By doing so, you’ll be able to read the HTTP requests and other actions that happen with the SDK.

In order to activate this mode, you have to tell the Beacon Builder like so:

 Beacon beacon = Beacon.Builder()
   .withBeaconId("YOUR_BEACON_ID_HERE")       
   .withLogsEnabled(true)       
   .build();

Once this is done, head over to LogCat.

Authenticating users

You can provide the name and email address to pre-populate and hide the fields on the ‘Create a message’ screen.

Normal mode

Normal mode authentication requires a user’s email address as the user identifier.

Beacon.identify("user@domain.com");

Alternatively, you can also identify the user’s name.

Beacon.identify("user@domain.com", "John Doe");

Or add some more extra attributes such as company name, job title and a url to use as the customer’s avatar.

Beacon.identify("user@domain.com", "John Doe", "Company Name", "Job title",
        "https://valid-url-to-avatar-image"

Secure mode

If you provide a valid signature, you can use it to authenticate a user in Secure Mode and retrieve their previous conversations. For security reasons, you’ll need to pass in the signature every time you want to open the Beacon UI.

Note: you should not store the secret key in the app; instead, your server should provide the computed signature value.

  BeaconActivity.openInSecureMode(context, "8235545a15c6f41b64e3c47e5c94d3...");

Logout

Calling this method resets the current Beacon state, thereby deleting all the user data: email, name, user attributes, push token and resets the Beacon Device ID. It won’t remove the Beacon ID, or any local config overrides.

  Beacon.logout();

Clear

This method wipes all data from the Beacon, including the Beacon ID. This may be useful if you are using different Beacons in different parts of your app.

  Beacon.clear();

User attributes

Beacon supports the addition of up to 30 attributes. These are arbitrary key-value pairs used to track custom data attributes that are then synced with the customer’s Help Scout profile and displayed in the Beacon sidebar app. You can add any attribute names except for “name” and “email.” The attributes can only take values of type String (E.g: phone: “1-999-999-9999”” or “Subscription”: “Free Plan”).

You may add an attribute like so:

  Beacon.addAttributeWithKey("Subscription", "Free Plan");

You may also remove specific attributes, or clear the entire set.

  Beacon.removeAttribute("a key"); //remove one attribute
  Beacon.clearAttributes(); //clear all attributes

Session attributes

This method allows you to add session-specific information to a new message. Unlike the Beacon.addAttributeWithKey(..) method above, use Beacon.setSessionAttributes(..) to pass data into the Beacon visitor activity note that’s only relevant to a specific conversation. We do not sync this data to either the customer profile or the Beacon Sidebar app.

You can add up to 20 attribute-value pairs. Each attribute label can contain up to 100 characters, and each value can contain up to 10,000 characters.

Prefilling the contact form

Use the PreFilledForm object to pre-populate the “Create a message” contact form data. You can fill any of the fields: name, subject, the body of the message, custom fields, attachment URIs, and email. Note a maximum of three attachments is permitted. Unlike when using Secure Mode, the name and email fields remain visible and editable. We clear the data from the PreFilledForm object on contact form send.

For how to determine the ids for custom field population, see this documentation for the Beacon web component.

 Beacon.addPreFilledForm(new PreFilledForm(
                 "Steve Aoki", //name
                 "Need help with invoice", //subject
                 "Hello, I need some help with my invoice. See attached PDF...", //message
                 Collections.singletonMap(5678, "Question"), //custom field values
                 Collections.singletonList("content://media/path/to/invoice"), // list of string URIs )
                 "steve@aoki.com");//email address

Resetting the contact form

Reset the contact form by clearing all of its fields, custom fields, and attachments.

If your Beacon is in Normal Mode, calling contactFormReset() clears all contact form fields, including name and email address.

If your Beacon is in Secure Mode, calling contactFormReset() does not clear the customer’s name or email address, those inputs remain hidden.

Please note that if a customer is logged-in using the login method, then their name and email address won’t be cleared with this method, you’ll have to use logout for this purpose.

 Beacon.contactFormReset()

The default behavior for Beacon is to open the Help & Support screen. If you want to open another screen, you can do it by calling one of the ‘BeaconActivity.open()’ methods.

Opening with search results

Open the search screen and with the search results for the string “search term”

BeaconActivity.open(this, BeaconScreens.SEARCH_SCREEN, (ArrayList<String>)Collections.singletonList("search term"));

Opening to an article

You can use this method to open a specific Docs article within Beacon, using the article’s ID.

Article IDs are found in Help Scout by navigating to the article and copying the article ID from the URL. The URL is structured like this: https://secure.helpscout.net/docs/[COLLECTION ID]/article/[ARTICLE ID]/.

 BeaconActivity.open(this, BeaconScreens.ARTICLE_SCREEN,(ArrayList<String>)Collections.singletonList("12345abcd"));

Opening to the contact form

Open to the contact form screen. Note: requires the Beacon to have messaging enabled.

BeaconActivity.open(this, BeaconScreens.CONTACT_FORM_SCREEN, new ArrayList<String>());

Opening to previous messages

Open directly to the previous messages screen. Note: requires the Beacon to have messaging enabled. If the user does not have previous messages, the page is empty with “Sorry, no previous messages” error message.

BeaconActivity.open(this, BeaconScreens.PREVIOUS_MESSAGES, new ArrayList<String>());

Opening to chat

Open direct to realtime chat. Note: requires the Beacon to have chat enabled; if it is not enabled, this method will fallback to opening the contact form.

BeaconActivity.open(this, BeaconScreens.CHAT, new ArrayList<String>());

Custom suggestions

You can programmatically override and change the suggestions based on any criteria that you specify. You can suggest articles by specifying their IDs or by passing an article title and an URL.

Article IDs are found in Help Scout by navigating to the article and copying the article ID from the URL. The URL is structured like this: https://secure.helpscout.net/docs/[COLLECTION ID]/article/[ARTICLE ID]/.

// There is a limit of 5 article ids. If the list is larger than 5, we ignore the additional articles.
List<SuggestedArticle> suggestedArticles = new ArrayList();
suggestedArticles.add(new SuggestedArticle.SuggestedArticleWithId("ARTICLE_ID"));
suggestedArticles.add(new SuggestedArticle.SuggestedArticleWithUrl("ARTICLE_TITLE", "ARTICLE_URL"))
Beacon.setOverrideSuggestedArticlesOrLinks(suggestedArticles);

Custom suggestions only get loaded when displaying the Beacon. If the Beacon is not present, loading the custom suggestion data queues it up for the next Beacon display.

If you’d like to revert to the default suggestion list from the Beacon Builder, you can call Beacon.setOverrideSuggestedArticlesOrLinks with an empty list.

Open and close events

These methods allow you to listen to specific events in the lifecycle of the Beacon to perform custom actions. Right now we support ‘open’ and ‘close’ events.

To use it, please register the BeaconEventLifecycleHandler listener in your Application class. Example:

private void initBeaconListener() {
        BeaconEventLifecycleHandler eventLifecycleHandler = new BeaconEventLifecycleHandler(
                new BeaconOnOpenedListener() {
                    @Override
                    public void onOpened() {
                        Timber.i("Open Beacon event called")
                    }
                },
                new BeaconOnClosedListener() {
                    @Override
                    public void onClosed() {
                        Timber.i("Close Beacon event called")
                    }
                }
        );

        registerActivityLifecycleCallbacks(eventLifecycleHandler)
    }

To unregister from events, use the following example:

private void unregisterFromBeaconEvents() {
     unregisterActivityLifecycleCallbacks(eventLifecycleHandler)
}

Settings customization

You can override various settings from the Beacon Builder configuration using the Beacon.setConfigOverrides(configOverrides) method.

General options

Name Type Options Description
messagingEnabled
Boolean true or false Enable or disable the contact form. It must be enabled in the Beacon settings for you to enable it via this API.
docsEnabled
Boolean true or false Enable or disable the article/docs. It must be enabled in the Beacon settings for you to enable it via this API.
chatEnabled
Boolean true or false Enable or disable the realtime chat. It must be enabled in the Beacon settings for you to enable it via this API.
color
String "#617DEC" Beacon primary color in hex format
focusMode
Enum SELF_SERVICE, NEUTRAL, ASK_FIRST If your Beacon has Docs and Messaging (email or chat) enabled, the mode controls the user experience of the Beacon. Learn more
enablePreviousMessages
Boolean true or false Enable or disable Previous Messages in Beacon. Defaults to true.

Contact form options

These are set by setting the BeaconContactForm object on the BeaconConfigOverrides

Name Type Options Description
customFieldsEnabled
Boolean true or false Enable or disable Custom Fields
showName
Boolean true or false Display an editable Name field.
showSubject
Boolean true or false Display an editable Subject field
showGetInTouch
Boolean true or false Show a contact link on the Beacon home screen
allowAttachments
Boolean true or false Display the add Attachments button

Show pre-filled custom fields

It is possible to hide custom fields that you’ve pre-filled using the Beacon.showPrefilledCustomFields(false). By default, pre-filled custom fields are shown just like the other pre-filled fields.

Translation strings

We lean on the Android resources system to provide overrides for Strings defined in the Beacon Builder. You can find a list of the overridable strings keys in the public.txt of the beacon-ui AAR file. Just define a string resource with the same key, and we’ll use that in preference over the Beacon Builder string value.

This allows for full localization support for example within your res/values-es folder you could create a beacon-strings.xml file and include the following to offer Spanish localization.

<string name="hs_beacon_send_a_message_title">Contáctenos</string>
<string name="hs_beacon_related_articles">También podría gustarte</string>
...

The customization sample project shows this in practice.

Mobile specific strings

Note some strings are Android/Mobile specific and there isn’t a Beacon Builder equivalent but these can also be overridden in the same way. For example:

<string name="hs_beacon_home_title">Help Desk</string>
<string name="hs_beacon_error_open_activity_not_found">Cannot find an app that supports opening files of this type</string>

String resource Id Default
hs_beacon_home_title
"Help & Support" (example)
hs_beacon_error_loading_more
"Sorry, there has been an error loading more data."
hs_beacon_error_open_activity_not_found
"Cannot find an app that supports opening files of this type."
hs_beacon_error_open_unknown
"An error has occurred opening the file"
hs_beacon_menu_close
"Exit"
hs_beacon_customfield_select_option
"Select an option"
hs_beacon_customfield_dropdown_leave_blank
"(leave blank)"
hs_beacon_discard
"Discard"
hs_beacon_continue_to
"Continue"
hs_beacon_reply_sent
"Reply sent"
hs_beacon_search_error_more
"Error loading more results."
hs_beacon_error_config
"Choose a Docs site or Mailbox to see your Beacon in action."
hs_beacon_error_article_not_found
"The selected article was not found. Please retry with a valid article ID."
hs_beacon_message_attachments_section_title
"Attachments (%d)" (example)
hs_beacon_error_timeout
"There was a timeout error when attempting to retrieve data. Please double-check your internet connection and try again."
hs_beacon_error_network
"There was a problem retrieving data. Please double-check your internet connection and try again."
hs_beacon_error_server
"There was a problem retrieving data from the server. Please retry later."
hs_beacon_error_unknown
"An error has occurred. Please retry later."
hs_beacon_confirm_email_address_to_view_conversations
"Please confirm your email address to see previous conversations."
hs_beacon_message_error_too_many_files
"There is a limit of three file attachments per message."
hs_beacon_message_error_downloading_attachment
"There was an error downloading %s. Please try again."
hs_beacon_message_error_invalid_attachment_extension
"The .%s file extension is not supported"
hs_beacon_attachment_downloading_please_wait
"Please wait. Downloading %s"
hs_beacon_message_error_uploading_attachment
"There was an error uploading %s. Please try again."
hs_beacon_message_error_deleting_attachment
"Error deleting attachment."
hs_beacon_message_error_no_previous_messages_found
"Sorry, no previous messages."
hs_beacon_conversation_show_more
"Show more"
hs_beacon_error_article_error_title
"Hold up"
hs_beacon_error_article_not_found_go_back
"Go back"

Chat specific strings

String resource Id Default
hs_beacon_chat_message_failed
"Message failed to send. Tap to try again."
hs_beacon_chat_view_conversation
"View conversation"
hs_beacon_message_agent_avatar_content_description
"Agent avatar"
hs_beacon_chat_downloading_image_attachment
"Downloading"
hs_beacon_chat_downloading_image_attachment_failed
"Download failed"
hs_beacon_chat_tap_to_retry
"Tap to retry"
hs_beacon_chat_download_error
"Error downloading attachment"
hs_beacon_chat_attachment_upload_error
"Attachment failed to send. Tap to try again."
hs_beacon_chat_attachment_invalid_extension_error
"The .%s file extension is not supported"
hs_beacon_chat_end_chat_dialog_header
"Minimize or end your chat session"
hs_beacon_chat_ended_title
"Chat ended"
hs_beacon_chat_email_hint
"email@address.com"
hs_beacon_chat_menu_download_file
"Download image"
hs_beacon_chat_attachment_image_download
"Image saved"
hs_beacon_chat_max_attachments_reached
"You can only have 20 attachments maximum per chat"
hs_beacon_chat_agent_name_if_missing
"Agent"

Push notification strings

String resource Id Default
hs_beacon_notification_reply_action_label
"Reply"
hs_beacon_notification_mark_as_read_action_label
"Mark as read"
hs_beacon_notification_channel_id
"Beacon"
hs_beacon_notification_channel_name
"Beacon notifications"
hs_beacon_chat_notification_channel_id
"Beacon chat"
hs_beacon_chat_notification_channel_name
"Beacon chat notifications"
hs_beacon_chat_notification_agent_replied_default_title
"New chat message"
hs_beacon_chat_notification_default_agent_name
"Agent"
hs_beacon_chat_notification_inactivity_title
"Chat has gone idle"
hs_beacon_notification_default_users_name
"You"
hs_beacon_conversation_notification_default_agent_name
"Agent"
hs_beacon_conversation_notification_default_title
"New message"

Push notifications

NOTE: There is no admin UI in Help Scout currently where you can manage your Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM) details. If you would like to try out this feature, you can email your FCM server key and your App ID to help@helpscout.com, and we’ll set it up manually for you.

The push notification support allows your users to receive system notifications when a support agent replies to one of their messages (sent from the Beacon SDK) or an in-progress, realtime chat.

  • Agent conversation replies - tapping the notification opens Beacon and takes the user to the conversation.
  • Agent chat replies - tapping the notification opens Beacon and takes the user to the chat.

If running on Android 7.0 (API level 24), users can use Direct reply and enter text directly into the notification.

Setup

Follow Set Up a Firebase Cloud Messaging Client App on Android, making sure to add the required FCM dependencies. In either case, you’ll need to send us the device’s push token, which tells the Beacon SDK to register for push notifications on future messages and replies sent from the SDK.

 Beacon.setFirebaseCloudMessagingToken(newToken)

For receiving the push messages, there are two paths to take here, depending on whether your application uses FCM already or not.

Your application is already enabled for FCM

In your custom extension of the FirebaseMessagingService class you’ll already be overriding the onNewToken() method. Just add a call to Beacon.setFirebaseCloudMessagingToken() to send us the token.

@Override
public void onNewToken(String deviceToken) {
    super.onNewToken(deviceToken);
    if(deviceToken!=null){
      //Send Beacon the token
      Beacon.setFirebaseCloudMessagingToken(deviceToken);
    }
}

Once completed, Beacon can send push notifications to your application. To differentiate between Beacon push notifications and any other push notifications your app might receive, we’ve added a utility method.

    @Override
    public void onMessageReceived(RemoteMessage remoteMessage) {
        if (remoteMessage.getData().size() > 0) {
          BeaconPushNotificationsProcessor beaconPushNotificationsProcessor = new BeaconPushNotificationsProcessor()
            if (BeaconPushNotificationsProcessor.isBeaconNotification(remoteMessage.getData())) {
                beaconPushNotificationsProcessor.process(this, remoteMessage.getData());
            } else {
                // here can process your own push messages                
            }
        }
    }

Your application isn’t currently using FCM

We’ll automatically receive the push message and display a system notification. We just need the device push token.

FirebaseInstanceId.getInstance().getInstanceId()
               .addOnSuccessListener(new OnSuccessListener<InstanceIdResult>() {
           @Override
           public void onSuccess(InstanceIdResult instanceIdResult) {
               String deviceToken = instanceIdResult.getToken();

               //Send Beacon the token
               Beacon.setFirebaseCloudMessagingToken(deviceToken);
           }
       });

If, in the future, you want to enable your own push messaging with FCM, please follow the instructions above.

Customizing Beacon notifications

Apps targeting Android Oreo (SDK 26) or higher have push notifications delivered to a notification channel. If you wish to override the channel settings for Beacon notifications, set the following resources to the values of your choice:

   <string name="hs_beacon_notification_channel_id">your_channel_id</string>
   <string name="hs_beacon_notification_channel_name">Your channel name</string>

If you wish, you can also change the icon that is shown in the status bar when receiving a notification. Just provide your own drawable called hs_beacon_ic_notification and it’ll override the default icon.