Happy New Year – A Community Update

Jared Smith

Jared Smith

Hello everyone…for those of you who don’t know me, I’m Jared Smith, Sangoma’s new Vice President for Open Source Community Development. Ever since I first started using open source telephony software back in 2002, I’ve tried to give back to the community. I’ve done Asterisk consulting, I’ve written Asterisk documentation, I’ve taught Asterisk training classes, and I’ve spoken at dozens of conferences. And I’ve also been involved with the FreePBX project, helping with technical work in the FreePBX code base, speaking at conferences about FreePBX, managing the network infrastructure that underpins Sangoma’s cloud versions of FreePBX/PBXact, and actively participating in the forums, etc. As you can probably tell, I’m very passionate about open source and open source telephony, and I love the people who make this community welcoming!

As Bill Wignall explained in his recent letter, my responsibilities at Sangoma have changed and I now have the amazing opportunity to focus most of my time on open source and community engagement. 2019 was a big year for open source at Sangoma, with the major releases of FreePBX 15 as well as Asterisk 17, and we have a lot planned for 2020 when it comes to both of these projects! The “Care, Engage, Support” theme Bill described for 2020 covers several areas, including technical improvements in the projects and better engagement with you. In this letter I’ll cover some of those details including new capabilities for FreePBX, strengthening the project infrastructure, and some of the efforts we’ll be taking to improve the communication between Sangoma and the open source community.

We are planning significant updates to our open source projects each month for the next while! In late January, we’re releasing updates for FreePBX to support the new, upcoming requirements for emergency calling. With the upcoming deadline for new installations of US telephone systems to comply with various new regulations (such as Kari’s Law and the Ray Baum Act), we want to make sure that your systems are compliant as well. This will also be an important item of interest to our partners who install FreePBX at customers’ sites. Manufacturers, installers, and end-users all have a role to play in making sure their new installations are compliant. These updates will help you configure your new installations to be compliant with the new requirements, and will include features to ensure that emergency calls have a proper outbound DID and that system administrators are notified when a user has called an emergency services number. We will also be adding more information to the FreePBX wiki on best practices for configuring your system for calling emergency services.

In February, we’re doing work to improve pieces of infrastructure used by our open source projects. The team at Sangoma is also putting a renewed emphasis on the key infrastructure that Sangoma provides to the community, such as download mirror servers, the wikis, etc. to make sure that they perform optimally. Once that work has been completed, we will add an article about those changes to the blogs.

In the March/April timeframe, I’ll update you on the significant engineering time we’re investing to modernize some of the internal “plumbing” of FreePBX, to help it keep up with recent technology changes. Some of these changes will improve system performance, and others are focused on security. The development team is also working on a couple of new FreePBX modules to address highly-requested features.

Focusing on the “Engage” aspect of our theme, we have redoubled our efforts at Sangoma to be more involved and communicative with the Asterisk and FreePBX open source communities, and to increase awareness through a number of different initiatives, such as…

  • If you’ve participated in the Asterisk or FreePBX forums lately, you’ve hopefully noticed increased activity by Sangoma engineers. Going forward, you will continue to see more participation from me and from others at Sangoma in the forums.
  • We are working on a series of short videos called Open Source Pro Tips (the first of which was just published) showing tips and tricks that will help you be more effective in your use of Asterisk and FreePBX.
  • AstriCon 2020 is now confirmed for October in Orlando, with more details to come, and I’m thrilled that we are re-launching FreePBX World there as well!
  • A quarterly newsletter focused on our open source projects, the first of which will be published later this month.
  • I will also be soliciting ideas for features and fixes you would most like to see in upcoming versions of both Asterisk and FreePBX. Please look for these “requests for ideas” in the forums beginning this month.
  • A new “Voice of the Community” series in our blogs beginning in February, which will include some guest posts from open source community members.
  • We would also love to hear your success stories with Asterisk and FreePBX! We will share some of these stories in the Voice of the Community series mentioned above.
  • In an effort to keep things fun and interesting, we are also happy to announce the launch of a new online merchandise store. On that site, you can find a variety of products such as t-shirts, mugs, and stickers centered around Asterisk and FreePBX projects. We’ll also be giving away some free items from the store in monthly contests.

I hope you’ve found this community update useful.

And please know that the Asterisk/FreePBX development teams are all here for you. We are completely committed to making the open source telephony ecosystem better each and every month. If you have concerns or questions about either Asterisk or FreePBX, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me on the forums, in IRC, via social media, via email at opensourcefeedback@sangoma.com, or in person at one of the many conferences related to open source telephony. By the way, my next conference will be ITExpo in February, so please say hi if you’re there.

Here’s to a joyous and prosperous 2020!
Jared Smith

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