What is a Channel?

A channel is a communication stream that can be connected to Front. The most common channel type is email, but Twitter DMs, Facebook Messenger, and SMS are other great examples of communication channels that teams can use to send and receive messages in Front.

With the Channels API, a new channel type will display in the “Add a Channel” menu for your team, or for all Front teams if you apply to publish your app, along with the other channels that come out of the box with Front. Teams can then send and receive messages over that channel with all the collaboration, automation, and integration Front offers.

Channels can be built using Front’s APIs for a wide variety of use cases, including:

  • logging phone call records into Front
  • synchronizing third party SMS providers into Front
  • connecting a custom website live chat with Front

Custom Channels vs Partner Channels

There are two types of channels that can be built through the Front API — Custom Channels and Partner Channels. The key difference is that a Partner channel allows you to create a new channel type that can be made available to all Front customers, whereas a Custom channel is designed to be used only by your Front instance. However, Parter Channels do not have to be made public, you can still create a Partner Channel that is private to your company. Partner Channels have access to the Channel API, whereas Custom Channels do not.

Custom channels are simpler to implement because they already exist as a channel type within Front, but have some limitations when compared to Partner channels. In particular, you should build a Partner channel if you meet either of the following conditions:

  • You want to publish your channel as a public integration for any Front customer to use
  • Your channel needs to support composing new outbound messages from Front (i.e. users aren’t simply replying to incoming messages). Custom channels still support replying to incoming messages as expected, but don’t allow full threading control when sending new outbound conversations.

Note that although Partner Channels (and the Channel API) are designed to support being publishing the channel as a public integration, you are not required do so and can still use the APIs for internal-only use.

Once you’ve decided on whether to build a custom channel or partner channel, you can continue with our dedicated guides:

An example Partner Channel built to connect Drift with Front.An example Partner Channel built to connect Drift with Front.

An example Partner Channel built to connect Drift with Front.

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