FreePBX 2.6 Beta 2 – Come Join the Fun

If you don’t keep an eye on the regular activity via the FreePBX Timeline or other means you may not be aware of the immense activity that has been going on with FreePBX 2.6. (You mean you don’t have that bookmarked as your home page because you have real work to do?:-)

FreePBX 2.6 Beta 1 has been available for download for quite some time and so far has proven to be quite reliable. We’ve been a bit stealthy in announcing it while spending a lot of time housekeeping so that you can get a good picture of what its current state is.

You can click on the 2.6 Milestone to get a good snapshot and summary of where things are and what the current state is, and from there you can drill down to see all the tickets associated with 2.6. At the time of this writing, we show 421 closed tickets (feature requests and bugs) and only 14 open (97% complete).

The Milestone gives the best summary but some highlights included in 2.6 are provided here. One exciting addition is the option to view an Extended Online Module Repository which not only includes the standard (and new) modules that are regularly supported by the Core FreePBX team, but also includes several popular and commonly requested modules that are available but may have been hard to find in the past and more tedious to download. Some of the new modules (including those available through the Extended Repository) include :

  • Asterisk SIP Settings & Asterisk IAX Settings
  • Provides the ability to manage common global SIP and IAX settings that have often been confusing and error prone to do in configuration files, and includes a handy auto-configuration helper to determine your sip_nat.conf related settings (and further eliminates the need for that file).
  • Outbound Route Messages
  • Allows the ability to override the default “All Circuits Busy” message encountered when all trunks fail, and allows for explicit messages to be played for Emergency Routes.
  • Weak Password Checks
  • Provides an auditing function for all your SIP and IAX passwords to help harden your system and protect it from the many automated scripts on the internet seeking out and exploiting such systems. Because of the security implications, this module was also introduced earlier into version 2.5.
  • Bulk Extensions & Bulk DIDs
  • Allows you to manage or provision large quantities of users and DIDs from a spreadsheet format.
  • Custom Context & Route Permissions
  • Provide some advanced functionality to limit routes or other features and capabilities to different extensions.

There are many other enhancements such as FOP 0.30 Updated to work with Asterisk 1.6, Virtual Extensions, many Queue updates and more. Some are highlighted in the 2.6 Milestone but many more are buried in the tickets or by looking through the GUI. As always, the best way to determine what is new is to load up the new version and start to explore, and at the same time, help us validate to move it into a released state!

In the mean time, for those of you exploring the “bleeding edge”, progress on FreePBX 3.0, which was announced earlier this month at ClueCon, is going great! It still remains very much a developer release, with a developer ISO currently available to check it out, but there has been a lot of dev interest which you can observe if you stop by the #freepbx-dev IRC channel (please keep in mind that channel is for development related questions and discussions, #freepbx remains the standard User channel).

For now, please hop on board and help get 2.6 out the door!

Philippe – On behalf of the FreePBX Team

FreePBX v3 – Come Help Us Shape the Future

We are super excited to announce immediate availability of the FreePBX v3 Developers Preview and invite you to get involved to help make this the best PBX application ever! We’ve taken FreePBX’s 5 years of experience plus tons of user feedback, and merged this with the TCAPI project (announced last year at ClueCon) and drawn on some great contributions from the Bandwidth.com Phonebooth Project to create a great foundation for the next generation of FreePBX!

FreePBX made its debut in October, 2004 as the AMP project (Asterisk Management Portal) but quickly changed its name to FreePBX in anticipation of new telephony engines coming down the pipe. At that time we adopted a new modular design which resulted in its proliferation and wide community contributions that continue to be strong today. FreePBX has a lot to be proud of as it has become the defacto PBX interface in this space with millions of downloads and an installed base counted in the hundreds of thousands!

Because of the organic nature of its very rapid community driven growth, FreePBX has developed into a very complex project making it challenging for new developers to get involved. We are really happy to announce the great efforts that have gone into creating a very developer friendly foundation for this new release. We approached the changes in v3 with some of the following very important goals:

  • Make FreePBX truly telephony engine independent
  • A well thought out modular design building on the past 5 years of experience
  • Use of a true MVC framework
  • Choose best in breed components and build on top of them
  • Excellent documentation to encourage developer involvement
  • Easily Skinnable

After months of heavy evaluations, we are making available a developer platform to encourage wide participation to build this into the best platform ever! The initial release includes a FreeSWITCH dialplan generator with FreePBX thanks to the great expertise brought on with the TCAPI project! We are super excited to see the development of other dialplan generators soon and with such a great development community available, Asterisk work is already under way and we hope others will be on board quickly!

In addition to merging of FreePBX, TCAPI and Phonebooth, we have picked Kohana, Doctrine and jQuery as core components to realize our design goals. Kohana is an MVC framework that the project has been tracking for a couple of years as one of the core FreePBX developers was very involved with its original development and made sure it evolved with the requirements critical for a future FreePBX version. Doctrine is a superbly capable ORM layer that provides significant advantages over the native offerings in Kohana, and has replaced Kohana’s native ORM using facilities in Kohana designed for this purpose. The jQuery JavaScript library is already used in FreePBX today and has widespread adoption across the industry.

You can find LOTS of great documentation and examples on the project wiki as well as a fully functioning ISO for download coming soon to get you started evaluating and contributing to this great project!

We are super optimistic that our efforts to make this project easily accessible to developers will assure its rapid evolution and we look forward to meeting you on the IRC (#freepbx-dev) and Forums. In the meantime, FreePBX 2.x has a 5 year head start so it’s still going to take some time for this new version to catch up with comparable features and stability. Therefore, we are simultaneously announcing the formal beta of FreePBX 2.6 to be released by the end of this week (and has been available from SVN for quite some time). This will assure the current FreePBX v2 installed base is strongly supported while v3 quickly evolves.

We are super excited to be bringing so much great stuff to this fantastic world of Open Source Telecommunications which continues to disrupt the whole industry; we are looking forward that these new developments will further intensify that!

For questions about v3, see the FAQ.

Philippe – on behalf of the FreePBX team!