The latest version of the Asterisk open source IP-PBX, version 1.2, is now available.
It has been just over a year since the release of Asterisk 1.0, and in that time a tremendous amount of work has gone into development by the open community that builds Asterisk. Digium Inc., the original creator and lead sponsor of the project claims that the new release includes over 3,000 feature additions and improvements.
Among the myriad new features are improved voicemail, easier configuration, new dynamic IVR (interactive voice response) flow-control interface, PRI improvement, SIP support improvements, customized CDR (call detail record) support, and a real-time database configuration storage engine.
The Asterisk dialplan has also been improved in the new release. In Asterisk, the dialplan is of pivotal importance as it defines how the application handles outbound and inbound calls through a list of instructions that the program follows. The new release includes something called, Asterisk Extension Logic, which Digium claims is a more flexible method for dialplan configuration.
Another important addition to Asterisk 1.2 is the DUNDi (Distributed Universal Number Discovery) protocol. DUNDi is a peer-to-peer protocol that Digium and Asterisk founder Mark Spencer has been promoting as an open effort for telephony services and Internet gateway discovery. As opposed to ENUM, DUNDi is peer to peer, and as such has no central authority and is fully distributed.
Asterisk and Digium founder Mark Spencer noted that DUNDi has been catching on in the enterprise space. "Having it in 1.2 will probably help it catch on a little bit better than it has with 1.0, since it had to be added separately," Spencer told VoIPplanet.com.
Overall for Spencer, the big picture about the 1.2 release is all about the continually growing Asterisk communityhow many people contributed to make the release happen, how much it has grown, and how much the activity level has increased around it. The growing developer community also represents something of a challenge.
"You've got a lot of developers that are contributing fixes or features that they need within their system. Sometimes their contributions are very good, and sometimes they need some work because they're not consistent with the rest of the overall architecture," Spencer explained. "So there is a lot of management that has to go into that."
"In the last two or three months, this has gotten a lot better," Spencer added. "We've got a lot more community people to come forward to help with the process of managing the bug tracker."
Some time in the next three to four months, Spencer expect to release a version of the Asterisk Business Edition (ABE) based on the open-source 1.2 version. The professional addition included items that cannot be included in the open source version for licensing reasons, like the Intel Dialogic drivers.
The Business Edition is also fully regression-tested in a much more formalized sense than is the regular software. Spencer explained that the Business Edition will take the 1.2 snapshot and then will be tested and certified for different phones, different features, feature interoperability, load testing, and various configurations. "That process is certainly a very time consuming one," Spencer said.
The open source Asterisk 1.2 has a much more rapid development cycle.
"The way 1.2 comes out is we did a feature freeze and we waited for the bugs in the bug tracker to settle down to where we were happy with the state of the software and then we mark it and tip it," Spencer said. "It doesn't go through a lot of internal testing; you can't do a lot of internal testing and still keep the pace of development moving at the rate that it does."