Message and Workflow Types

Overview

While we use the term "message" when speaking generically about content you create to be viewed by a user, specifically, there are several types of messages you can send using Urban Airship Engage.

Messages can be created and sent via the dashboard or the API. In the dashboard you choose creation workflows, which offer various message type, delivery, and automation options.

Each message and workflow type is defined here, along with links to detailed documentation, tutorials, and more.

Key Terms

Message
A message is content you create to be viewed by a user. Messages are defined by how they are experienced by the user, or the display.
Display
Display refers to when and where a user sees the message, as well as how the message appears.

  • Format: Text or styled. Styled mobile and web messages are banner, modal, or fullscreen. Email notifications may be formatted via HTML.
  • Timing: Upon receipt, based on defined triggers, or controlled via automation.
  • Location: Message alerts are handled natively per platform and according to user preferences. The location of the full message content varies per message type. See descriptions in Message Types below.
Workflow
A workflow is a method of creating messages via the dashboard. Workflows are defined by what you can include and control:

  • Message types
  • Delivery
  • Automation
Dashboard
The dashboard is the Urban Airship web interface located at go.urbanairship.com.
Automation
Automation is a set of conditions that must be met before the message is either sent or displayed.

The Automation workflow controls sending a message. The In-App Automation workflow controls whether or not and when an in-app message is displayed on the user's device.

Message Types

The different message types are defined by how they are experienced by the user.

Push Notification
Push notifications appear on any screen on a mobile device. They can be used to alert users from outside of your app to key information (news, offers, features, etc.) and drive them back to engage with your app.

Silent Push Notification
Silent Push Notifications wake a mobile app for processing without appearing on the device. They can be used to do things like send custom keys, update the app's badge icon, and set an Android notification category.

Web Push Notification

Web push notifications slide into a desktop/laptop's top right or bottom left corner, depending on the operating system. On a mobile device, their appearance is similar to a push notification.

In-App Message
In-app messages are notifications that appear inside of your app.

Standard in-app messages appear as banners. Automated in-app messages have various style and layout options, and are stored on the user’s device, then displayed according to the triggers you define.

Message Center
Message Center is a place in your app where you can display persistent rich messages, including HTML, video, etc. It is similar to an email inbox.

Apple News Notification
An Apple News notification is a push notification that links to an Apple News Story and is delivered via the Apple News app on iOS and macOS.

Apple News notifications are available to select publishers. If you are interested in sending Apple News notifications, please contact your Urban Airship Account Manager.

Email Notification
An Email notification is an HTML or plain-text email that is sent to registered users. They are viewed in the recipient's email inbox.

SMS Notification
An SMS notification is a text-based message sent to an MSISDN (phone number) over the SMMP protocol to devices that have opted in for a specific sender ID (long or short code). They are viewed in the recipient device's native SMS client.

Persistence

Message Center, Email, and SMS are persistent message types. Even if the alerts for these messages are dismissed, the message content can still be viewed in the app's Message Center, email inbox, or the device's native SMS client until the message is deleted by its recipient.

For all other message types, once the message is dismissed, it cannot be retrieved to be viewed again. A message's linked content, e.g., a web link, deep link, an Apple News story, remains available as determined by the source host.

Compare

See the Message Reference for the equivalent API endpoints and objects for each message and workflow type.

Message TypeDisplay FormatDisplay TimingPersistentWorkflow TypesTemplatesAutomation
Push NotificationBannerUpon receipt
  • Message
  • A/B Test
  • Automation
Silent Push NotificationNoneNot displayed
  • Message
  • Automation
Web Push NotificationBannerUpon receipt, as long as the browser is open1
  • Message
  • Automation
In-App MessageBanner, modal, or fullscreenUpon opening the app, or based on display triggers2
  • Message
  • A/B Test
  • Automation
  • In-App Automation
Message CenterFullscreenAvailable in the app's Message Center
  • Message
  • Automation
Apple News NotificationBannerOpon receipt3
  • Apple News
Email NotificationTemplate layout, HTML or plain-textUpon opening the message
SMS NotificationTextUpon receipt
  • Message

1 Safari web notifications are handled by the operating system, so they may also be handled by Notification Center preferences.
2 Display triggers are for messages created via the In-App Automation workflow only.
3 If the selected story is still processing, it will send when the story is live.

Workflow Types

Message
Use the Message workflow to send messages that should be delivered either immediately or at a specified time.

A/B Test
Use A/B Tests to experiment with different variants of a message for cross-sections of your audience. Each variant in the test returns analytic data that can help determine what kinds of notifications are most effective.

Urban Airship's A/B Test feature supports up to 26 variants and a control group per test, and is supported on iOS, Android, and Amazon devices.

Automation
Use the Automation workflow to send messages based on the occurrence of an event trigger and delivered either immediately, at a specified time, or during an available window.

Automation can help you set up sophisticated timing rules based on a user's location, app usage, etc., so you can reach your audience when your notifications are most relevant.

In-App Automation
Use the In-App Automation workflow to display in-app messages based on on their actions within your app. The messages are sent to users once created but are only displayed when certain conditions are met.

While standard in-app messages appear as banners, automated in-app messages have various style and layout options.

Apple News
Use the Apple News workflow to send a push notification that links to an Apple News story.

Compare

See the Message Reference for the equivalent API endpoints and objects for each message and workflow type, as well as allowed message type combinations.

Workflow TypeTriggersDeliveryMessage TypesWorkflow Tutorials
MessageImmediate, or scheduled.
  • Push Notification
  • Silent Push Notification
  • Web Push Notification
  • In-App Message
  • Message Center
  • Email Notification
  • SMS Notification
A/B TestImmediate, or scheduled.
  • Push Notification
  • In-App Message
AutomationEvent TriggersImmediate, scheduled, or during available window.
  • Push Notification
  • Silent Push Notification
  • Web Push Notification
  • In-App Message
  • Message Center
In-App AutomationDisplay TriggersMessages are stored on the user’s device then displayed according to the triggers you define.
  • In-App Message
Apple NewsImmediate. If the selected story is still processing, it will send when the story is live.
  • Apple News Notification

Use a Workflow

To create a message using a workflow, first choose your project from the dashboard, then click Create and select a workflow.

Workflow Overview

Read the Workflow Overview to learn how to use workflows, their navigation and page elements, and how to find your message drafts.