1.35 Message conversations

DHIS2 features a mechanism for sending messages for purposes such as user feedback, notifications and general information to users. Messages are grouped into conversations. To interact with message conversations you can send POST and GET request to the messageConversations resource.


Messages are delivered to the DHIS2 message inbox but can also be sent to the user’s email addresses and mobile phones as SMS. In this example we will see how we can utilize the Web API to send, read and manage messages. We will pretend to be the DHIS2 Administrator user and send a message to the Mobile user. We will then pretend to be the mobile user and read our new message. Following this we will manage the admin user inbox by marking and removing messages.

1.35.1 Writing and reading messages

The resource we need to interact with when sending and reading messages is the messageConversations resource. We start by visiting the Web API entry point at http://play.dhis2.org/demo/api where we find and follow the link to the messageConversations resource at http://play.dhis2.org/demo/api/messageConversations . The description tells us that we can use a POST request to create a new message using the following XML format for sending to multiple users:

<message xmlns="http://dhis2.org/schema/dxf/2.0">
  <subject>This is the subject</subject>
  <text>This is the text</text>
    <user id="user1ID" />
    <user id="user2ID" />
    <user id="user3ID" />

For sending to all users contained in one or more user groups, we can use:

<message xmlns="http://dhis2.org/schema/dxf/2.0">
  <subject>This is the subject</subject>
  <text>This is the text</text>
    <userGroup id="userGroup1ID" />
    <userGroup id="userGroup2ID" />
    <userGroup id="userGroup3ID" />

For sending to all users connected to one or more organisation units, we can use:

<message xmlns="http://dhis2.org/schema/dxf/2.0">
  <subject>This is the subject</subject>
  <text>This is the text</text>
    <organisationUnit id="ou1ID" />
    <organisationUnit id="ou2ID" />
    <organisationUnit id="ou3ID" />

Since we want to send a message to our friend the mobile user we need to look up her identifier. We do so by going to the Web API entry point and follow the link to the users resource at http://play.dhis2.org/demo/api/24/users . We continue by following link to the mobile user at http://play.dhis2.org/demo/api/24/users/PhzytPW3g2J where we learn that her identifier is PhzytPW3g2J . We are now ready to put our XML message together to form a message where we want to ask the mobile user whether she has reported data for January 2014:

<message xmlns="http://dhis2.org/schema/dxf/2.0">
  <subject>Mortality data reporting</subject>
  <text>Have you reported data for the Mortality data set for January 2014?</text>
    <user id="PhzytPW3g2J" />

To test this we save the XML content into a file called message.xml . We use cURL to dispatch the message the the DHIS2 demo instance where we indicate that the content-type is XML and authenticate as the admin user:

curl -d @message.xml "https://play.dhis2.org/demo/api/26/messageConversations"
  -H "Content-Type:application/xml" -u admin:district -X POST -v

A corresponding payload in JSON and POST command look like this:

  "subject": "Hey",
  "text": "How are you?",
  "users": [
      "id": "OYLGMiazHtW"
      "id": "N3PZBUlN8vq"
  "userGroups": [
      "id": "ZoHNWQajIoe"
  "organisationUnits": [
      "id": "DiszpKrYNg8"
curl -d @message.json "https://play.dhis2.org/demo/api/26/messageConversations"
  -H "Content-Type:application/json" -u admin:district -X POST -v

If all is well we receive a 201 Created HTTP status code. Also note that we receive a Location HTTP header which value informs us of the URL of the newly created message conversation resource - this can be used by a consumer to perform further action.

We will now pretend to be the mobile user and read te message which was just sent by dispatching a GET request to the messageConversations resource. We supply an Accept header with application/xml as the value to indicate that we are interested in the XML resource representation and we authenticate as the mobile user:

curl "https://play.dhis2.org/demo/api/26/messageConversations"
  -H "Accept:application/xml" -u mobile:district -X GET -v

In response we get the following XML:

<messageConversations xmlns="http://dhis2.org/schema/dxf/2.0"
  <messageConversation name="Mortality data reporting" id="ZjHHSjyyeJ2"
  <messageConversation name="DHIS2 version 2.7 is deployed" id="GDBqVfkmnp2"

From the response we are able to read the identifier of the newly sent message which is ZjHHSjyyeJ2 . Note that the link to the specific resource is embedded and can be followed in order to read the full message. From the description at http://play.dhis2.org/demo/api/24/messageConversations we learned that we can reply directly to an existing message conversation once we know the URL by including the message text as the request payload (body). We are now able to construct a URL for sending our reply:

curl -d "Yes the Mortality data set has been reported"
  -H "Content-Type:text/plain" -u mobile:district -X POST -v

If all went according to plan you will receive a 200 OK status code.

1.35.2 Managing messages

Note: the Web-API calls discussed in this section were introduced in DHIS 2.17

As users receive and send messages, conversations will start to pile up in their inboxes, eventually becoming laborious to track. We will now have a look at managing a users message inbox by removing and marking conversations through the Web-API. We will do so by performing some maintenance in the inbox of the DHIS Administrator user.

First, let’s have a look at removing a few messages from the inbox. Be sure to note that all removal operations described here only remove the relation between a user and a message conversation. In practical terms this means that we are not deleting the messages themselves (or any content for that matter) but are simply removing the message thread from the user such that it is not longer listed in the /api/messageConversations resource.

To remove a message conversation from a users inbox we need to issue a DELETE request to the resource identified by the id of the message conversation and the participating user. For example, to remove the user with id xE7jOejl9FI from the conversation with id jMe43trzrdi :

curl https://play.dhis2.org/demo/api/26/messageConversations/jMe43

If the request was successful the server will reply with a 200 OK . The response body contains an XML or JSON object (according to the accept header of the request) containing the id of the removed user.

{ "removed" : ["xE7jOejl9FI"] }

On failure the returned object will contain a message payload which describes the error.

{ "message" : "No user with uid: dMV6G0tPAEa" }

The observant reader will already have noticed that the object returned on success in our example is actually a list of ids (containing a single entry). This is due to the endpoint also supporting batch removals. The request is made to the same messageConversations resource but follows slightly different semantics. For batch operations the conversation ids are given as query string parameters. The following example removes two separate message conversations for the current user:

curl "https://play.dhis2.org/demo/api/26/messageConversations?mc=WzMRrCosqc0&mc=lxCjiigqrJm"
  -X DELETE -u admin:district

If you have sufficient permissions, conversations can be removed on behalf of another user by giving an optional user id parameter.

curl "https://play.dhis2.org/demo/api/26/messageConversations?mc=WzMRrCosqc0&mc=lxCjiigqrJm&user=PhzytPW3g2J"
  -X DELETE -u admin:district

As indicated, batch removals will return the same message format as for single operations. The list of removed objects will reflect successful removals performed. Partially errorenous requests (i.e. non-existing id) will therefore not cancel the entire batch operation.

Messages carry a boolean read property. This allows tracking whether a user has seen (opened) a message or not. In a typical application scenario (e.g. the DHIS2 web portal) a message will be marked read as soon as the user opens it for the first time. However, users might want to manage the read or unread status of their messages in order to keep track of certain conversations.

Marking messages read or unread follows similar semantics as batch removals, and also supports batch operations. To mark messages as read we issue a POST to the messageConversations/read resource with a request body containing one or more message ids. To mark messages as unread we issue an identical request to the messageConversations/unread resource. As is the case for removals, an optional user request parameter can be given.

Let’s mark a couple of messages as read by the current user:

curl "https://play.dhis2.org/dev/api/messageConversations/read"
-d '["ZrKML5WiyFm","Gc03smoTm6q"]'  -X POST
-H "Content-Type: application/json" -u admin:district -v

The response is a 200 OK with the following JSON body:

{ "markedRead" : [ "ZrKML5WiyFm", "Gc03smoTm6q" ] }

1.35.3 Tickets and Validation Result Notifications

You can use the “write feedback” tool to create tickets and messages. The only difference between a ticket and a message is that you can give a status and a priority to a ticket. To do this, use these API

POST https://play.dhis2.org/demo/api/26/messageConversations/<uid>/status

POST https://play.dhis2.org/demo/api/26/messageConversations/<uid>/priority

In 2.29, messages generated by validation analysis now also be used in the status and priority properties. By default, messages generated by validation analysis will inherit the priority of the validation rule in question, or the highest importance if the message contains multiple rules.

A list of valid status and priority values
Status Priority

You can also add an internal message to a ticket, which can only be seen by users who have “Manage tickets” permissions. To create an internal reply, include the “internal” parameter, and set it to

curl -d "This is an internal message"
  -H "Content-Type:text/plain" -u admin:district -X POST -v