Beacon for iOS

The Beacon SDK is currently in beta. For issues or questions, contact Help Scout support at help@helpscout.com.

API documentation is available here.

Requirements

The Beacon SDK requires iOS 9.0+.

Features

Coming Soon

  • Beacon chat
  • Push notification support

Sample Application

We’ve created an open source example application that you can reference during your implementation.

To run the example project, clone the Beacon repo and run pod install from the Example directory. Once the installation is complete, open Beacon Example.xcworkspace and run the Beacon Example scheme.

Installation

CocoaPods

Beacon is available through CocoaPods. To install it, simply add the following line to your Podfile:

pod 'Beacon'

Manually

Beacon can be installed manually by linking the Beacon framework and bundle. To do so, download the Beacon framework from this GitHub repo and integrate it similar to how Carthage integrates frameworks.

Next, ensure your project is linking against the following system frameworks:

  • UIKit
  • Foundation
  • MobileCoreServices
  • Photos
  • QuickLook
  • SafariServices
  • UserNotifications
  • WebKit

Finally, ensure your project includes -all_load in its OTHER_LINKER_FLAGS build setting.

Additional Setup

Photos

The attachments menu for sending a message has code to allow users to take a photo or select a photo from their photo library. Even if you have attachments disabled, usage of these APIs is flagged by Apple and requires a description string in the app’s Info.plist file.

The required settings are NSPhotoLibraryUsageDescription and NSCameraUsageDescription:

Documents

To access the documents picker in the attachment menu, you’ll need the entitlements for iCloud and iCloud Containers. Without the entitlements, an error message will be thrown via the delegate on the ‘Import file from’ menu option.

Push Notifications

You may recieve a warning when uploading to App Store connect related to push notifications if they aren’t already active in your application. Similar to Photos, App Store Connect will flag usage of these APIs in code even if they aren’t invoked in the app.

The notification feature is still under construction for the Beacon SDK.

Usage

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

Basic usage of the Beacon SDK requires an HSBeaconSettings object, which can be initialized using your Beacon ID. After you have created a settings object, you can display the Beacon modal view controller via HSBeacon:

Objective-C
HSBeaconSettings *settings = [[HSBeaconSettings alloc] initWithBeaconId:@"beacon-id"];
[HSBeacon openBeacon:settings];
Swift
let settings = HSBeaconSettings(beaconId: "beacon-id")
HSBeacon.open(settings)

Authenticating Users

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

Objective-C
HSBeaconUser *user = [[HSBeaconUser alloc] init];
user.email = "test@example.com"
user.name = "Test User";

[HSBeacon login:user];

HSBeaconSettings *settings = [[HSBeaconSettings alloc] initWithBeaconId:@"beacon-id"];
[HSBeacon openBeacon:settings];
Swift
let user = HSBeaconUser()
user.email = "test@example.com"
user.name = "Test User";

HSBeacon.login(user)

let settings = HSBeaconSettings(beaconId: "123")
HSBeacon.open(settings)

Secure Mode

If a valid signature is provided, it can be used to authenticate a user in Secure Mode and retrieve their previous conversations. Secure Mode ensures that the visitor is who they say they are.

Note: the secret key should not be stored in the app; instead your server should provide the computed signature value.

Objective-C
HSBeaconUser *user = [[HSBeaconUser alloc] init];
user.email = @"test@example.com";
[HSBeacon login:user];

HSBeaconSettings *settings = [[HSBeaconSettings alloc] initWithBeaconId:@"beacon-id"];
[HSBeacon openBeacon:settings signature:@"8235545a15c6f41b64e3c47e5c94d3..."];
Swift
let user = HSBeaconUser()
user.email = "test@example.com"
HSBeacon.login(user)

let settings = HSBeaconSettings(beaconId: "beacon-id")
HSBeacon.open(settings, signature: "8235545a15c6f41b64e3c47e5c94d3...")

User Attributes

HSBeaconUser 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 as many attributes to the ‘identify’ method as you wish, not just “name’ and “email”.

Here’s some example code:

Objective-C
HSBeaconUser *user = [[HSBeaconUser alloc] init];
[user addAttributeWithKey:@"key" value:@"attribute value"];
Swift
let user = HSBeaconUser()
user.addAttribute(withKey: "key", value: "attribute value")

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

Objective-C
HSBeaconUser *user = [[HSBeaconUser alloc] init];
[user removeAttributeWithKey:@"key"]; // Remove one attribute
[user clearAttributes]; // Clear all attributes
Swift
let user = HSBeaconUser()
user.removeAttribute(withKey: "key") // Remove one attribute
user.clearAttributes() // Clear all attributes

Prefilling the contact form

By implementing the prefill method on the HSBeaconDelegate protocol, you can pre-populate the contact form data. You can fill any of the fields: name, email, subject, the body of the message (text), custom fields, and attachments. Unlike when using secure mode, the name and email fields will remain visible and editable.

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

The delegate attribute of the settings object will need to be set to the instance implementing the HSBeaconDelegate protocol.

Objective-C
# pragma mark HSBeaconDelegate
-(void)prefill:(HSBeaconContactForm *)form {
    form.name = @"Steve Aoki";
    form.email = @"steve@aoki.com";
    form.subject = @"Need help with invoice";
    form.text = @"Hello, I need some help with my invoice. See attached PDF...";
    [form addCustomFieldValue: @"Question" forId: 5678];
    NSData *invoiceData = [NSData dataWithContentsOfFile:@"/path/to/invoice.pdf"];
    [form addAttachment: @"invoice.pdf" data:invoiceData];
}
Swift
extension ViewController: HSBeaconDelegate {
    func prefill(_ form: HSBeaconContactForm) {
        form.name = "Steve Aoki"
        form.email = "steve@aoki.com"
        form.subject = "Need help with invoice"
        form.text = "Hello, I need some help with my invoice. See attached PDF..."
        form.addCustomFieldValue("Question", forId: 5678)
        let invoiceData = try! Data(contentsOf: URL(fileURLWithPath: "/path/to/invoice.pdf"))
        form.addAttachment("invoice.pdf", data: invoiceData)
    }
}

Opening with search results

The HSBeacon search method searches Docs articles and loads the results screen.

Objective-C
HSBeaconSettings *settings = [[HSBeaconSettings alloc] initWithBeaconId:@"beacon-id"];
[HSBeacon search:@"hippa" beaconSettings: settings];
Swift
let settings = HSBeaconSettings(beaconId: "beacon-id")
HSBeacon.search("hipaa", beaconSettings: settings)

Opening to an article

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

Article IDs can be 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]/.

Objective-C
HSBeaconSettings *settings = [[HSBeaconSettings alloc] initWithBeaconId:@"beacon-id"];
[HSBeacon openArticle:@"DOCS_ARTICLE_ID" beaconSettings: settings];
Swift
let settings = HSBeaconSettings(beaconId: "beacon-id")
HSBeacon.openArticle("DOCS_ARTICLE_ID", beaconSettings: settings)

The HSBeacon navigate method opens the Beacon and shows a specific screen. Available routes are:

HSBeaconSettings *settings = [[HSBeaconSettings alloc] initWithBeaconId:@"beacon-id"];
[HSBeacon navigate:@"/" beaconSettings: settings]; // welcome screen
[HSBeacon navigate:@"/ask/message/" beaconSettings: settings]; // message screen
[HSBeacon navigate:@"/docs/search?query=help" beaconSettings: settings]; // equivalent to HSBeacon search
Swift
let settings = HSBeaconSettings(beaconId: "beacon-id")
HSBeacon.navigate("/", beaconSettings: settings) // welcome screen
HSBeacon.navigate("/ask/message/", beaconSettings: settings) // message screen
HSBeacon.navigate("/docs/search?query=help", beaconSettings: settings) // equivalent to HSBeacon search

Settings customization

You can set various options on the HSBeaconSettings object to override the Beacon Builder configuration.

Name Type Description
messagingEnabled
Bool Enable or disable the contact options
docsEnabled
Bool Enable or disable the Docs integration
beaconTitle
String The navigation title shown on the intial Beacon screen (only if docs is enabled); the default is "Support".
useNavigationBarAppearance
Bool If this is true, then Beacon will use tint colors defined via UIAppearance providing they are not nil; otherwise it will use the Beacon color.
color
UIColor Brand color for your Beacon; the useNavigationBarAppearance option will override this value.
useLocalTranslationOverrides
Bool You may customize the user-facing strings in Beacon locally using HSBeaconSettings. This will tell Beacon to look for a BeaconLocalizable.strings file. You can find an example of this in the Beacon Example app. If this flag isn't set, the translations provided in Beacon Builder will be used. We also have French translations thanks to Github user @amolieres
messagingSettings
HSBeaconMessagingSettings This object holds a number of messaging specific overrides you can set client side; see below for a list of values

Messaging Settings object

Name Type Description
contactFormCustomFieldsEnabled
Bool Enable or disable Custom Fields
contactFormShowNameField
Bool Display an editable Name field
contactFormShowSubjectField
Bool Display an editable Subject field
contactFormAllowAttachments
Bool Enable or disable file attachments
showGetInTouch
Bool Show a contact link on the Beacon home screen
showPrefilledCustomFields
Bool Show a contact link on the Beacon home screen

Push notifications (experimental)

NOTE: There is no admin UI in Help Scout currently where you can manage your push notification certificates. If you would like to try out this feature, you can email your APNS certificate (as a p12 file with no password) and your bundle id to support@helpscout.com and we’ll set it up manually for you.

The push notification support allows your users to recieve push notifications when a support agent replies to one of their messages sent from the Beacon SDK. Clicking the notification will open Beacon and take the user to the conversation.

Automatic handling

Calling the initializeAutomaticPushNotificationHandlingWithMethodSwizzling method will automatically add Push notification support by wrapping your existing push notification methods.

Manual setup

  • Changelog – get a list of recent changes to the Beacon SDK