It's been a crazy heads down couple weeks of coding and testing since the last [url=/news/2011-01-09/happy-2011-and-a-2-9-update]blog post[/url] where I gave you a quick update on how things are going. We are finally up for air ready to encourage you to join in and help get the momentum rolling on the 2.9 release which is turning out to be packed with all sorts of great small and big improvements, changes and additions! Although there is still some feature work left to do we are ready to ask you to start loading up your test systems (or for those very brave, your real ones) and give it a go!We received a lot of fantastic feedback on [url=/news/2010-11-17/features-we-are-considering-for-2-9]our blog some weeks back[/url] and have examined that information along with the many tickets in our system to give shape to this milestone. There are still a handful of features which we have not gotten in yet, notably some of the new abilities introduced in Asterisk 1.8 such as the CallCompletionRequest (Camp-On) and CONNECTEDLINE (Reverse-CID), but we are hoping to squeeze those in over the next couple of weeks. There are also some partially complete features that have not yet been exposed and a handful of contributions sitting in the tickets that are pending.
We’ve tried to map out our plans for this release in the 2.9 Milestone where you can get a detailed picture of what we have been up to as well as drill down into the hundreds of feature and bug tickets that have been handled or are still pending. We’ve also started to map out our thoughts for the 2.10 MIlestone to start getting all of you thinking about what’s coming next and wound up to help us make it a reality.
There’s just too many things to start highlighting every feature and enhancement that this new release will bring. We’ve tried to layout many of the key ones in the trac Milestone so your best bet is to look at the overview and dive in; that, AND start playing with it. There has been some great contributions during this release from a few of the core developers on the project. Andrew Nagy (tm1000) has been working tirelessly to continue enhancing and improving the End Point Manager which is now available though the Online Repository in version 2.9 and we hope to get a lot more eyes on it with this release. Mikael Carlsson (mickecarlsson) and Moshe Brevda (mbrevda with Schmoozecom.com) have spent countless effort working on a two prong re-architecting of the classic ‘amportal.conf’ settings and re-architecting parts of the internal framework structure that will result in much easier access for external application that want to take advantage of FreePBX internal API’s and other resources. There has also been major usability work and always lots and lots of ideas provided by Tony Lewis (tonyclewis with Schmoozecom.com) who has helped fine tune many of the new features that are coming out with this release. For those of you who I have not mentioned here, you have not been forgotten as there are many other contributions to this release, too many to name here.
An example of the outcome that has resulted from these types of changes is the new Advanced Settings GUI page that replaces amportal.conf. On last count there were over 130 configurable settings designed to better customize your FreePBX system, many of these new to 2.9. These setting range from basic configuration settings that have always been specified in amportal.conf, to specialized settings that will let you take advantage of various Asterisk patches, to simple preferences such as the frequency that the Dashboard should update, or whether you want to skip the extra yes/no confirmation when you press Apply Configuration Changes and the orange box pops up.
We are also excited to have introduce a whole section focused on customizing the style, layout and branding of your FreePBX system. There has been interest brought up in the forums that has helped spur this on including a great prototype offered up by Bas on this forum post and some additional interest on this same subject brought up by baron154 on this post here. With the new changes in 2.9, you could make a very simple module that provides the required images and new CSS, and sets the roughly 4 configuration parameters that results in the great new look that Bas demonstrated! We are hoping that this configuration ability helps fuel the interest to come up with some great new designs since that is high on our list and with the right creativity, we may now be able to offer multiple options!
Enough for now… Let me layout the next sequence of events and then get my weekend started. There is a 2.9.0alpha1 tarball available to download and get you started, upgrade instructions here. Although we have done a lot of testing on it, I’ll wait for a few more eyes have scrutinized it before elevating it to a beta release. In the interim, and even during beta1, we intend to finish off the feature work before a feature freeze which will coincide with beta2, hopefully two to three weeks from now. At that point, we will track the bug rate and make a push to get it finalized. In the interim, we will work on an upgrade module which will be available first as a manual download until we get enough feedback to feel comfortable putting it up on the 2.8 Online Repository. This is done so that unsuspecting user’s don’t accidentally upgrade to a beta, despite all the warnings that we provide during the upgrade process. There has also been suggestions that we institute a community phone conference to update you on what is going on with this and future milestones and give opportunity for discussion and feedback. We will try to arrange this in the next couple weeks giving time to address the current release as well as kick off thoughts on 2.10. We will see how well this works out depending on how many people try to join (and how big of a conference bridge we can pull together).
We look forward to your participation and feedback on all this great work that has been done, and will be back frequently as the release progresses to give you feedback and let you know how the milestone is progressing.
Philippe - on behalf of the FeePBX team