FreePBX design discussion

(TheJames) #44

If you are still unfamiliar with changes from 5 years ago I can recommend a video series


Andrew, I don’t get angry. I’m not angry. I’m trying to make FreePBX better.

I get that much of my criticisms are directed towards things that you did when you were on the dev team, and that you’re taking my criticisms personally. But, for me, there’s nothing personal about this. I want FreePBX to both survive and thrive.

I think you’re contradicting yourself here. In the first quote above, you state that you’re not asking me to stop posting (i.e.,STFU) and that I only think that you are because I’m angry. But, in the second quote you admit that you are asking me to STFU about the documentation, which you claim that I’m only raising because I’m angry.

Again, I’m not angry. And I’m not raising any issues out of anger. I’m raising the issues because they are still relevant to comments made by others in this very thread.

Ultimately, I believe that the devs should be responsible for the documentation for the reasons that I’ve stated. If you disagree, tell us why!

Most of my posts are about the deficiencies in the current documentation and about unnecessary GUI changes that make configuration more time consuming.

To the extent that it comes up, I certainly do mention the deletion of the work that I did. But, that’s an ancillary point, and I typically only mention it when people respond that I should contribute. I think its important for people to know that I did contribute and why I and others have decided that its not worthwhile to do so.

Anyone who is thinking about contributing should understand that the time and effort they spend on the Wiki can (and likely will) be be deleted.

If someone really wants to contribute to documents, a better approach would be a post to the forums. At least then, they’ll be preserved.

I think that you’ve misread, or misunderstand what I’ve said in the past. I have never taken the position that the GUI should not be changed.

Rather, I’ve always stated that you need to be careful when you change the UI so as to avoid making documentation obsolete, and to avoid making configuration more time consuming. Change can be good, or bad. I’ve definitely been critical of change for change’s sake, but I have never suggested that the GUI should never be changed.


I have never written any posts that have suggested that the project should remain stagnant. Rather, I’ve always advocated for improving the product, but for being very careful to ensure that improvements are implemented in the right way.

Since you were the person who removed much of the documentation that I wrote, I understand why you are taking my criticisms personally. I understand why you’d prefer not to see criticisms of your work, and why you’d rather that I just go away.

Thank you, but I’d rather stay and try to make FreePBX better.

Not true. There have been new GUI changes, making things even worse, in the last two years. And it doesn’t matter when the GUI changed. What matters is that there’s always the opportunity, even today, to reverse course and make the GUI better!

Tony apparently felt differently, as he called me to personally thank me for my contributions and even offered me the CM job that you got after I turned it down. Other than that, I’m not sure how to respond to this other than by pointing out that posting personal insults doesn’t move the discussion forward.

Again, these types of personal attacks are totally off-topic. If you disagree with me on the merits, I encourage you to explain your reasons.

(Lorne Gaetz) #48

Okay this is nuts. I’m locking this thread for a bit. Anyone who feels there is benefit to unlocking it tomorrow can like this post. Do not like this post for any other reason!

All are encouraged to use the post edit button and flag feature that Discourse has conveniently provided.

(Lorne Gaetz) closed #49

(Lorne Gaetz) opened #51


as someone that installs FreePBX professionally I don’t have any problem with the Web GUI it was not that hard to learn after watching all the videos of crosstalk solutions and watching all sangoma University videos and sometimes when I needed something specific I go to the wiki and the forums were very good when I needed some help, I like all the advanced features there are so many implementations one day someone will use that feature, there is a huge silent majority of people that implement this solution professionally as an IT and these people do not want a simplified cotton candy version we love Advanced options, and we hate when menus are changing places there is a reason why in Windows the control panel never changes , and the feature that is most important to us is Rock Solid stability because all we needed to do is make phone calls day in and day out and when it’s unstable it ruins our day, and I would rather pay for a few modules one time then have a monthly or yearly fee so the other systems are not a comparison, this is an advanced product and you need to take the time to train learn about SIP and networking as well if not your customer will have a bad experience, no one can just pick up an advanced product without training and install it at a customer site the next day, I used it as my phone system for a year before I sold it for someone else

(Tom Ray) #53

Just so you understand the System Admin Pro module is the only module that doesn’t require a yearly support renewal. That’s why all your commercial modules will have a “Renew” button next to them when their yearly support is up. Basically when you spend the $149 on EPM it gives you a 25 year license for use but only 1 year of support and upgrades. If you want to continue have support and upgrades to the module you need to pay an annual support fee.

So you’re never just paying a “one time” fee unless you don’t care about the support/updates part.


so far my model is if it ain’t broke don’t fix and I don’t keep it exposed to the internet
would I like to see updates for 25 years Yes but I’m okay without it
I only upgrade if I see a new feature I want and so far when I finish setting it up it does everything I want

(Jared Busch) #56

If it is worth the money to purchase, it is worth the money to keep updated. That or you are not seriously a business, just a hobby.

EPM costs something like $26/year for updates.

That said, I would be much more interested in a model with a lower up front and consistent recurring or a larger up front and no recurring.

(Tom Ray) #57

Have you looked at PBXact?


and even for people like you that upgrade every year FreePBX is still the most cost-effective free stands for freedom not that you will not have to pay anything I love the freedom of just being able to download an ISO and be up and running without having to deal with anyone

since people brought up 3cx look how much it’ll cost you for a hundred users and you can’t even buy directly and my system doesn’t turn into a pumpkin after the license expires or if I forgot to update payment info

and here is the price for 30

(TheJames) #59

There is NO money in software. I know it, you know it, apple knows it, Microsoft knows it. That’s why the one time purchase is going away. Frankly you never bought software only a license. The same with music, movies etc. You simply own a license. The options are to try to sell it at a premium once and make your money OR sell it for less with a renewal option and make money over time. Subscription models have done more to fight oiracy than anything else. I pay $12 a month to listen to any song I want. I don’t need to rely on some shady server to get one song off of a horrible album.
Photoshop at $400 is out of most people budgets. Add on the upgrade fees and it is ridiculous. I pay $10 a month to Adobe and get Photoshop and a handful of other services with major updates at least 2 x a year. The subscription model lowers the bar for entry and provided a way for companies to keep their lights on. Frankly I love this model. We now see this with Office365 and many other things. If you hate this model I have bad news for you. Whether sangoma or ANY company decides to drop the initial fee is up to them and their business needs. In any case it is unlikely that renewals and subscriptions in any part of the digital world will go away. They will simply become more and my re the norm.

(TheJames) #60


that’s why I switched a lot of people to WPS office for a Microsoft Office alternative and Affinity for a true Adobe alternative because I don’t like their new price Model and these products do almost everything the same and they are much more cost-effective that’s why I love capitalism and the open market,
the people that are using FreePBX are the people that are more tech-savvy and like open source projects so if you will implement the new Adobe price Model people will look somewhere else and someone will quickly fill the vacuum

(TheJames) #62

I don’t drive these policies and I didn’t as a developer. I am an open source evangelist. That said anyone who tells you GiMP is equal to Photoshop or that inkscape is equal to AI is nuts. Both open source products are great but at the end of the day they still don’t meet the mark. Prior to the subscription model I used gimp a lot. The tools serve their market. As much as I love Photoshop I wouldn’t pay $400 for it. The stuff I use it for I can easily absorb $10 by the money I make selling images. My time is valuable to me. So I can take 10 minutes to mask an image or 5 seconds. A handful of images and I am way beyond a $10 value.

On topic with FreePBX. The project serves a wide audience. We see it servicing random solutions on a raspberry pi. We also see it running in large government agencies and Fortune 100s.

There is no Monopoly on the software by any given sector. Each sector has very different needs. Many of those sectors have only 2 requirements. It meet a budget and it JUST WORKS. They give priority to function over cost. We all know the base coat of a product is not all inclusive. People drop $10k on a feature equal product they can get for $500 because it comes with guarantees, support, training etc etc. I use to install commercial key systems. The office manager never sat on the phone with some random person. I was on site within the hour when needed 24/7. The business process made sure we put in a product that minimized that need. Most end users want to pay for something they don’t know they are using. If this means paying a premium to a reseller, or paying a subscription they will do it. People want a solution not a part time job.

Back off topic. I just dropped another $400 on a laser cutter. I don’t expect it to be a $3000 solution. I know it will take effort to make it perform to that level. There are a lot of people like me. There are a lot more that just drop the $3k and call it a day.


there is a middle ground affinity is designed as a full replacement for a professional that is using Adobe suite and people are paying money for it and it’s very affordable and reasonable and they simply don’t want to deal with Adobe’s new price Model, there is always people that will go for the brand name but not the people in this community they will look on results and functionality and price first, there is a reason why these companies didn’t use Cisco call manager or 3cx


The above observation is 100% correct. FreePBX is much more affordable, much more powerful, and much more customizable.

And given that, you have to wonder, why would anyone buy 3CX rather than using FreePBX? The answer, as I’ve been saying all along, is that 3CX has much better documentation and is much easier to use.

As ITConsultant said, he learned much of what he knows about FreePBX from videos posted by a third party (CrossTalk). When I started, those videos did not exist. I learned much of what I know from WiseOldOwl and MichiganTelephone, and from spending more than 1,000 hours playing with FreePBX and then examining how changes in the GUI impacted the Asterisk’s *.conf files. Ideally, everyone should learn what they need to know from the source (currently Sangoma), and not from third parties or from having to experiment (which I believe to be fun but which most people do not).

It should not be necessary to consult with third parties to learn how to use FreePBX, nor should it be necessary to attend expensive training seminars. Both of these things impose a barrier to entry that makes 3CX look better to new adopters.

This discussion started with Jared asked what we thought future of FreePBX should be.

The immediate future of FreePBX should be about (1) building a comprehensive set of documentation, (2) updating the documentation as soon as new features are added, and (3) ensuring that when new features are added, the GUI is changed in a way that doesn’t break the documentation.

Long term, FreePBX should look at ways to simplify the GUI, rather than complicate it. The focus should be on making configuration quick, rather than making it look fancy. Fancy sure looks nice, but it will stop working when the browser extensions that are needed to support it are deprecated.

At the end of the day, the people who work for me and who live in my house only care that the phones work. They never see the GUI and don’t care how fancy it is. I use the GUI, but I don’t care about fancy. I want configuration to be quick and easy. I used to be able to set-up a new FreePBX install, complete with emergency routes, intracompany routes, parking lots, conference rooms, queues, rings groups, time conditions, time groups, superfecta (which sends CID to Kodi on all my TVs) and a ton of custom code in about 4 hours. Now it takes nine. For the very same configuration.


since it’s an open source project crosstalk Solutions videos is a contribution to freepbx and sangoma saw how good crosstalk’s videos were so they actually hired him to make the videos for sangoma University which anyone can access by signing up for free, and personally I like more when a third-party makes the documentation and gives you the cold hard truth like for example not jumping on every new update or switching everything right away to PJSIP and that resulted my systems being much more stable the developer would never tell me about these things and a lot of other practical advice and how to implement 3rd party stuff


Again, you and I are on the very same page, but I have some thoughts that expand upon yours:

First, Crosstalk wouldn’t have needed to make those videos if the FreePBX dev team had made documentation more of a priority. The reason that Crosstalk made those videos, and that WiseOldOwl and MichiganTelephone wrote up their own documentation before Crosstalk make those videos, is because the dev team has focused their efforts almost exclusively on development.

Documentation has been a second (or third or fourth) priority for the dev team. I know that I sound like I’m being critical, but I’m not. I’m simply stating a fact.

Second, Crosstalk’s videos are great now. But, what happens when the FreePBX dev team decides to totally revamp the GUI? All of their hard work could become obsolete overnight. It has happened in the past, more than once.

Third, I agree 100% with your observation about pjsip as well, but that observation has much broader implications. In the open source universe, the more mature (i.e., older) version is almost always the safer choice. If you are offered the option to install Asterisk 13 or Asterisk 16 with your FreePBX installation, you should generally choose 13. If FreePBX 14 was just released last week, you should install FreePBX 13. If you love playing with software, like I do, you should play with 14, but 13 should be running your office until 14 becomes more mature.

Information about versions should be one of the first pieces of information that appears in any open source documentation. It should probably appear right before, or right after, the system requirements.

With FreePBX, to find out the difference between 14, 13, 12, etc., you generally have to hunt down the roadmap and release blog posts and then compare them to one another just to get a sense of what has changed. In contrast, for example, Polycom has released detailed (hundreds of pages) of documentation everytime that they make a .x firmware change. There’s a Polycom Firmware 5.8 manual, and another manual for 5.9.

I’m not sure that FreePBX needs to go that far, but a move in that direction would be a good way to compete with 3CX!