What are we thinking about for 2.11

With 2.10 finalized and humming along on thousands of systems, it’s time to start deciding what to do for the next release. With the current trend of double digit release numbers, maybe we should name it 11 instead of 2.11? If you have an opinion feel free to express it but for now let’s discuss more interesting topics, like what should be in it!! Some of us developers got on a phone conference last week to start this dialog. We’ve got some ideas which I’ll express next but as always we want to hear from you!

For starters, our general consensus was to target the next Astricon for a release timeframe. Astricon is held annually towards the end of October, so that gives us about 7 months from now. We kept the discussion at a high level with the expectation to summarize here and begin to get your feedback on things to work on. From an Asterisk perspective, we will support the current LTR (Long Term Release) of Asterisk 1.8, plus 10 and 11 which will be the next LTR due out about that time also.

One big change in Asterisk 10 is the rewrite of the [i]ConfBridge[/i] application. MeetMe has been the [i]”primary”[/i] conferencing application prior to 10 but has some problematic requirements which also keep it form handling wide band codecs. The Asterisk team rewrote what looks to be an awesome new version of the ConfBridge application which has so much flexibility and power that it deserves a complete rewrite of our conferencing module in FreePBX! In order to get some early exposure to the new ConfBridge, we’ll add support in the current Conferencing Module for FreePBX 2.10, but the real flexibility won’t come until the module get’s rewritten!

The biggest undertaking for 2.11 is to finally replace the User Portal (ARI – Asterisk Recording Interface) with a new and modern version that is written from the ground up. Schmooze Com, Inc has stepped up to the plate with the current intention of leading up this effort and providing significant contributions to the rewrite.This will be an ambitious undertaking and we are very excited that it is en-route to becoming a reality!

Another technology we discussed investigating is the ability to remotely monitor [i]ExtensionState[/i] information (Asterisk [i]”hints”[/i]) between two or more PBX systems. This underlying technology uses XMPP as its transport mechanism and requires an outside XMPP server to configure and run. Potential applications range from BLF enabled buttons that monitor remote extensions at another branch, to ExtensionState information about remote queue members being available to the local queue, to separate Voicemail Servers with MWI information available locally and more. Our starting point will be an investigation and then explore what we might do to take advantage of it. Ward (from Nerd Vittles) indicated some interest in getting a test bed up and going but if anyone else out there wants to join the party and help with the effort you would be more than welcome!

We’ve also started exploring the Call Event Logging (CEL) infrastructure added to Asterisk 1.8. The CEL is an event based subsystem with the focus of comprehensive [i]”billing”[/i] systems in mind. Today, we have the CDR records that form the basis of our call reports. These have some use but a lot of limitations and can often be difficult to read. What becomes particularly hard is to try and track a complex call that may go through various stages such as attended and blind transfers, call pickups, parking and more. With CEL, you will get MANY more events from a given call, but it’s possible to process those events in such a way that we can group all information related to a single call which becomes quite useful for someone trying to bill for or otherwise account for a full call flow. The CEL subsystem is quite flexible so there are a lot of possibilities available. We expect 2.11 will be just the beginning!

There was some additional discussion including what level of support we should or even could provide to Google Voice if a developer were able to commit to keeping after it, as well as CallerID Superfecta which currently is not at all in our control as it is not even housed in any of our repositories. For the most part though, we were looking at the above “bigger” technologies we want to play with and hopefully introduce and then come here to start asking you to throw out your ideas. We will be digging through the feature request tickets as is always the case but your comments are very welcome here so please feel free to fire away!

As a quick side note, May is approaching faster then expected, as well as the end of March deadline for Early Bird Pricing on the upcoming [url=/open-telephony-training-seminar]OTTS training coming to Minneapolis, MN[/url] so if that’s something you are considering don’t procrastinate too long and miss out on the savings! Signups have already started and the last two events ended up selling out so make sure to reserve your spot!

For now, let us know what your ideas are for the next FreePBX release!

[b]Philippe[/b] – On Behalf of the FreePBX Team!

2.10 Officially Final

The current release, FreePBX 2.10 has been pretty much final for quite a while now though we have been reluctant to officially bless it as such because we wanted to be very conservative on the new release given the GUI changes and some of the other big changes that have gone into it. With about 6000 beta and release candidates systems that have tried it out and many of those active and in production, we decided that it’s probably ok to bless it as final!

The bug rate coming in on 2.10 has been pretty minimal but a careful analysis of the bugs that come in help us determine what type of issues are still being detected, are they on the new code or bugs from prior releases, etc. The biggest area that we’ve been diligently working on is the new backup module that was provided by Schmooze Com, Inc and has added a level of flexibility and robustness that was never there before. This includes significant functionality for user defined backup templates, remote storage and warm standby “High Availability” configurations and built in intelligence that can be configured to avoid common issues such as warm backup servers accidentally “stealing” live SIP/IAX trunk registrations.

We also highlighted some last minute additions in our [url=/news/2012-02-22/lots-of-recent-2-10-activity-to-close-things-up]last blog[/url] that got rolled in as a result of all the tickets being reviewed, closed, moved or acted on prior to this final release. So if you have not played with it there are a handful of exciting new additions that you may find quite useful!

For those of you playing with the “new” app_confbridge in Asterisk a word of caution. Asterisk 10, which we are striving to support, decided to rewrite app_confbridge changing the syntax and overall way that it is configured. From reading through the new design we are really excited about what it may deliver on paper and as such, a lot of good ideas are being exchanged amongst the development community. You’ll probably see 2.11 come out with an all new Conferencing Module that takes much more advantage of this new and MUCH improved conferencing! (Keep in mind, this is all “on paper” as none of us developers have really played with it much, but we’ll give it the benefit of the doubt and hope it all works out as good as it is described in their wiki!) The bad news of all this, if you are running Asterisk 10 then app_confbirdge will not work for you. As it stands, app_confbridge is being considered somewhat “experimental” in FreePBX and it notes such in the tooltip where you can configure it in Advanced Settings. Given the changes in 10 and the expected rewrite of the entire module, it’s unlikely we’ll add support for the Asterisk 10 version until the new module comes out in 2.11.

[b]Next Open Telephony Training Seminar (OTTS)[/b]

As a quick reminder or if you aren’t already aware, we’ve got our next [url=/open-telephony-training-seminar]OTTS training coming to Minneapolis, MN[/url] in May. There’s a $300 savings early bird special going on right now so if you’re thinking about coming go have a look because once the special is over, there’s no more deals! Attendees have already started signing up and our last two classes have filled up requiring us to turn away some late comers so if you are thinking about it now’s the time!

For now, thanks for all of you who have been actively testing and providing feedback on our extended 2.10 Release Candidate! We are excited to be announcing the final release!

[b]Philippe[/b] – On Behalf of the FreePBX Team!