Sunday, 19 July 2015

Developing USSD apps: simulation

Developing ussd apps: simulation

What does it take to develop a USSD app???

  • Are you already a developer??? 
  • Do you have experience in developing and deploying web services to any web or application server
  • Are you comfortable with string manipulation and programmatically dealing with URLs???

If you check on the above points, then the simple answer is 

                                 "THERE IS NOTHING NEW FOR YOU"

However if all the above points catch you off-guard, 

then i'd recommend you learn web app development in your technology stack of choice i.e J2EE, DotNet, PHPetc doesn't really matter. Learn also to deploy these web services to a server and access them via a URL.

What language should I use????

So many developers ask me questions which shows that guys are so unduly concerned about the language to use. 

you could use PHP, C#, Java all you'll need is an application deployed to a web server, accessible via a URL.

The programming language is just a way to implement a solution, its not the solution itself.

I have been using java and there are some really cool libraries to use for USSD development. However, I also believe that other languages have similar libraries available to you. 

The only restriction in this post is that the simulator we shall use to test our apps is written in java, so you must have JDK 1.6+

I use myeclipse-2014 as IDE, jboss-as-7.1.0 as my application server and mchoice-simulator-0.0.4 for testing the app, again no worries, all you'll need is to have web service developed and running on a server.


It really took me some good time (about 10 hours) to complete the learning curve for USSD app development.

Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of experience in developing web apps, but just like it is with starting out with a new framework or tech stack, there are way too many options to choose from which can get quite confusing.

I hope this post will help get you set in the right track quite faster than me.

I had to face the fact that no MSP(Mobile Service Provider) will allow you to deploy your very brilliant USSD hobby project to their servers and test live on their network. Unless of course you are an insider.

However, there are alot of USSD simulators out there which you can use to test your app by giving it your app URL.

I can tell you, if you can successfully develop your app, deploy to a server and test from the simulator, then you've got it.

I chose mchoice-simulator for its simplicity of use and the fact that its very loosely coupled with the rest of my app, only connected through a URL.

So with mchoice-simulator, you develop your app in any language, deploy to any web server and just give it your URL. of course you shouldn't forget to download jdk-1.6+.

There are full instructions on how to get started with mchoice-simulator here.

I know most cannot wait to just get started with a real app, there are those who have mailed me and want source code for sports betting app, mobile money etc. All I can tell you is that after these nitty gritties i have given plus the last post, you know all the fundamentals.

By the end of my next post, where we shall develop one of the most common and simple USSD apps, you will have the capability to develop any app you access on your handsets through short code. 

Nice Sunday guys. 

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