An Actor represents someone who goes on an Airkit Journey. Put another way, any individual who goes through an application flow is represented by an Actor.

While the fundamental definition of an Actor is straightforward, the concept of an Actor has deep implications regarding what sort of interactions are allowed to fall under the umbrella of a single Journey. Without a way to recognize the users embarking on Journeys, there would be no way to communicate with them across multiple channels. Identifying the Actor is what allows Airkit to support omni-channel Journeys.

Identifying an Actor

Actors can be identified by their phone numbers and their email addresses, because they serve as unique properties that are tied directly to the app user.

Note that while every Journey has an Actor, not every Actor will necessarily have an identifier. This contrasts with Journeys, which are tracked directly within the Airkit platform, making it useful to assign an automatically-generated identifier to each one. Actors are people (or, at least, Actors are simplified digital representations of people) that exist outside of the Airkit platform, and so they must be identified by their own intrinsic properties.

Phone Numbers

Defining phone numbers as unique identifiers for each Actor requires making the following assumptions:

  • Each user has only a single phone number that they will use to interact with your application.
  • Each user has exclusive use of their phone number. No two users will interact with an application using the same phone number.
  • Every phone number has the capacity to call, text, and browse the web.

Identifying Actors by their associated phone numbers paves the way to incorporate call and SMS channels into a Journey.

Email Addresses

Defining email addresses as unique identifiers for each Actor requires making the following assumptions:

  • Each user has only a single email address that they will use to interact with your application.
  • Each user has exclusive use of their email address. No two users will interact with an application using the same email address.

Identifying Actors by their associated email addresses paves the way to incorporate email Notifications into a Journey.

Properties of the Actor Namespace

Out of the box, Actors are structured such that the Actor Namespace has the following properties:

  • first_name (string) - the Actor's first name.
  • last_name (string) - the Actor's last name.
  • full_name (string) - the Actor's full name.
  • email (string) - the Actor's email address. This cans serve as a unique identifier.
  • phone (string) - the Actor's phone number. This can serve as a unique identifier.
  • timezone (string) - the Actor's timezone. Timezones must be described by their TZ database names, or the Actor will not parse them as meaningful timezones.
  • region (string) - the Actor's region. Regions must be described by their State/Province Abbreviation Key, or the Actor will not parse them as meaningful regions.
  • calendar_restriction (string, Availability Schedule Key) - defines when Notifications can and cannot be sent to the Actor from the Journey Builder. For the sake of TCPA compliance, this value is automatically generated out of timezone and region when applicable.

These properties correspond to the properties associated with the Identity object. Editing the properties of the Identity object within AirData Builder will modify the structure of the Actor accordingly.

Note that these properties are all tied to an Actor, but that they cannot all be used as identifiers, because they are not all reliably unique.

Note also that while the structure of the Actor Namespace is set automatically, the properties will be blank by default, and each one must be set explicitly. Values of each Actor property can be assigned using the Set Variable Action just like any other variable.

Use dot notation when referencing a property within the Actor Namespace. For instance, to reference the Actor's phone number, access actor.phone wherever Airscript is accepted. (See Airscript Quickstart for more details). The Actor Namespace is available at any point throughout a Journey.

Initializing an Actor

Variables saved in the Actor Namespace are just that: locally-stored variables. They do not automatically establish communication channels any more than other locally-stored variables do.

In order to automatically parse and establish communication channels, relevant Actor properties must be copied into Airkit's actor_internal database. This is what allows Airkit to send outgoing messages through the correct channels as well as automatically associate incoming messages with the relevant Journey. Note that it is not possible to directly access data in actor_internal from the Airkit platform.

Copying Actor properties into actor_internal is called Initializing an Actor, and it is done via the Initialize Actor Action.

The diagram below represents a Journey after relevant Actor properties have been set and right before an Actor is initialized.

organizing infoorganizing info

This next diagram represents what happens when the Actor is initialized. Whatever is stored in the Actor Namespace gets copied to airkit_internal.

organizing infoorganizing info

Once an Actor is initialized, relevant communication channels will be established automatically. For instance, once an Actor is initialized with actor.phone, all of their incoming texts will be considered part of their Journey, and all outgoing phone calls will be sent to their phone number.


What’s Next

For a more detailed discussion of how Actors are defined and initialized, see "Conversations with Actors." To move straight to discussing the Console, see "Console."

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