FreePBX 2.10 Beta – Lots of Credit to the Schmoozecom.com team!

There’s lots of exciting stuff and for those of you who follow the activity going on in the trac timeline then you should be well aware of how busy things have been and how much activity has been going on by the team over at Schmoozecom.com Inc., who have contributed the bulk of all the super great work to this next and very exciting 2.10 release! On the Schmooze side mbrevda has been going nuts with all sorts of great contributions though they are not the only ones as mickecarlsson has been keeping quite busy himself and tm1000 (Andy) continues to plug forward on his continuous effort to keep the endpoint manager module up to date and moving forward!

For starters, a hats off to all of these guys who have been carrying so much of the load these last few months. With all that said, the [url=/freepbx-distro]FreePBX Distro[/url] work has been going strong as well which again is a major contribution by Schmoozecom and driven by tonyclewis with lots and lots of background help from GameGamer43 (Bryan) who all to often sits silently in the background.

Ok … enough of the credits, I just want to make sure that all of you keep in mind that this project is successful because it is very much a community effort whose direction and results are a direct product of those who get involved and help make it happen!

So what has been going on? Well let me warn you that when you load the 2.10 beta be prepared for a lot of great things and some really big changes on the “look and feel” front. Let me also precede this by saying WE WANT TO HEAR YOUR FEEDBACK! This is not a “done deal” but we need to hear from you now to affect change, not 3 months after final release! (and if you do scream then, we are going to point you right back to this blog post!)

Upon loading the beta you are going to find that the whole GUI has gone though a MAJOR facelift. Kudos to some awesome work by mbrevda whose efforts started back in 2.9 to make this a reality and here we are today with a MUCH NEEDED modernization of the interface. With that said we are well aware that this sort of change may not suite everyone and further more, with a large community like we have, there is probably NO single solution that will make everyone happy. So let me talk you through this a little bit, here is a screen shot to get a taste:

First you will notice that the left navigation bar is gone and in its place is a series of top navigations with a handful of categories that now store all the GUI displays. No more tool vs. setup tab and those clunky top menu tabs as we had before! At this point I know that some of you are probably THRILLED for the refreshing new look and feel of the GUI while others of you DO NOT LIKE IT and want something closer to what we already had. As such, I want to make it VERY CLEAR that this is NOT A DONE DEAL! The re-architecting that mbrevda has done has lent itself to allow for different GUI layouts and although we have started with the proposed layout, we are not adverse to providing more than one layout if a significant portion of the community tells us it is really needed. Please keep in mind that we are looking for REAL feedback! Let’s keep the drama out of it as we have just stated this is not a done deal, and instead have some real community discussion to determine if the resources are better spent on more new and exciting phone features vs. developing and supporting a second layout more similar to the “left navigation bar” format in 2.9 and earlier releases!

In the meantime, we realize that this new layout most certainly has rough edges and we are very much looking for feedback to further improve it whether color shading suggestions or more fundamental. Another place we expect we will NEVER satisfy everyone is the menu layout on top. That includes both the names that we have currently chosen, and what modules go into which of those buckets. Trust me when I say it’s not a done deal because within the development team we are very much at odds with some of the tab names and what should go where. So … with that said, please speak up but I would request that you try to do it in a format that we can digest. Have some great ideas? – propose a full solution. Want to have a discussion? – kick off a thread with your ideas on the forums. There is time to change this so let’s make sure your input is heard!

So … despite the “eye candy” what else has happened on this release. Some of the major changes include a completely rewritten, template driven and extremely flexible backup module that Schmoozecom.com dedicated many months of mbrevda’s time to create. Trying to describe the level of flexibility you have with this would be a pointless effort, go load up 2.10 and have a look. For those of you who love to add your own stuff and install various projects from around the web, you will be thrilled that you can now tell FreePBX about those so they not only get backed up but also restored with this module!

As if the Backup module was not enough, mbrevda largely rewrote the IVR module which was in bad need of some serious improvements despite its outwards appearance that made it look like it was in decent shape. The interaction and understanding of it should also be more straight forward. Yet another major component that was falling apart from the inside out was the CDR reporting engine that originally came from another project and was barely maintainable depending on outdated and no longer maintained libraries that we packaged with FreePBX. So thanks to the wonderful world of open source and the great efforts on mickcarlsson’s part for digging up a new engine that we were able to turn into a full fledge module and provide much of the needed CDR reporting functionality that is important to most users! Last to mention is the call recording capabilities of FreePBX which have been plagued by ambiguity and lack of ability to control what would be recorded and what would not. We’ve re-architected the controls that determine what to record and what not at both the extension level as well as higher levels such as ring groups, queues, conferences, etc. We’ve also replaced the builti-in automon capability (on-demand recording) provided by Asterisk with our own implementation of on-demand call recording so that we can make more attempts at controlling and honoring settings when a call gets recorded and not. So all an all, we should be well on our way to a more deterministic call recording capability!

What next? Well first of all I guarantee you that there will be bugs to flush out and feedback to listen to so that we can take this beta and really clean it up and drive it to a real release! We NEED YOUR help to start testing and providing feedback whether it be isolating the bugs or helping with the guidance on the changes that we asked you about above! The easiest way to get started will be to pull beta version with the complete FreePBX Distro that will install everything for you! Details are on this forum post.

However, for those of you wanting to get your hands dirtier or using other Distro’s out there, you can load up the tarball and upgrade as you always have. Which ever way you do it, come help us shape this release to something that is a joint effort between your feedback and those of us and you who can contribute coding, patches, testing, etc. to drive this to completion!

Philippe – On behalf of the FreePBX and Schmoozecom.com Team!