Then it continues to succeed as the novice becomes a pro and starts tapping the “other ways to do it” with more sophisticated implementations, using AGI with Java, Perl, or Python (or one of the other dozen or so supported languages), or even writing her own custom apps that work as compile-time options in Asterisk.
But the first step for anyone, no matter what his or her skill level, is to look at examples of basic apps others have written.
“There’s more than one way to do it.” I’ve been working with Asterisk for nine years, and this motto becomes more true with each release, each added feature, and each clever person who attacks a telecommunications problem with this incredibly flexible toolkit. Then, I typically point the person toward the first edition of this book, , and set him loose.
I had the fantastic opportunity to work as the community manager for the Asterisk project at Digium for two years, which gave me one of the best vantage points for seeing the scope and imagination of the worldwide development effort pushing Asterisk forward. In just a few hours of development (or longer, of course), companies can change the way they deliver products to customers, nonprofits can overhaul how their users interact with the services they offer, and individuals can learn to build a perfectly customized call-handling system for their mobile and home phones.
As I continue to answer “Yes, it can do that,” I watch as the person’s eyes grow wide. At a recent communications conference I attended, the question “Who uses Asterisk? I tell people that it’s reasonable for anyone delivering services both via phone and web to want to add an “A” for Asterisk to the LAMP (Linux, Apache, My SQL, [Perl/Python/PHP]) acronym, making it LAAMP.
The person starts to smile when he starts to think about new things to do that his old phone or communication system couldn’t possibly have done. (LAMA-P was another option, but for some reason nobody seems to like that version…I don’t know why.)The expansion of this book to include more examples is something I’ve been looking forward to for some time.
Leif, Jim, and Russell have not only put together a fantastic compendium of Asterisk methods, but they have also provided an excellent list of examples that will let the novice or expert quickly learn new techniques and “more than one way to do it.”Asterisk 1.
is fantastically powerful and can solve nearly any voice problem you might have.
Asterisk is accessible because of the ease with which a novice can understand basic concepts.
For those of you building the most complex installations, there is even more interesting work—which will be realized quite soon—in development.
The depth and breadth of Asterisk is staggering—installations with hundreds of thousands of users are now commonplace. Asterisk scales up and down from individual lines to vast multiserver installations across multiple continents, but the way to start is to install the package, open up some of the configuration files, and start looking at examples.
I see Asterisk making deep inroads into the financial, military, hospital, Fortune 100 enterprise, service provider, calling card, and mobile environments. From the basic beginnings of a PBX that Mark Spencer coded in 1999, the Asterisk project, with the help of thousands of developers, has moved from simply connecting phone calls and has matured into a platform that can handle voice, video, and text across dozens of virtual and physical interface types.
In fact, there really aren’t any areas that I can think of where Asterisk isn’t now entrenched as the default choice when there is a need for a generalized voice tool to do “stuff.”Asterisk has been emblematic of the way that open source software has changed business—and changed the world. Emailing recorded conference calls to the participants? Integration of voice services into existing Java apps? The creation and growth of were the inescapable results of the convergence of the four horsemen of the proprietary hardware apocalypse: open source development ideas, the Internet, Moore’s Law, and the plummeting costs of telecommunications.
My favorite part of any Asterisk project overview or conference talk is answering questions from someone new to Asterisk. Even hardware vendors who may be frightened of Asterisk from a competitive standpoint are using it in their labs and core networks: almost all devices in the Voice-over-IP world are tested with , making it the most compatible system across vendors. Asterisk is a mature, robust software platform that permeates nearly every area of the telecommunications industry and has firmly cemented itself as one of the basic elements in any open source service delivery system.