Plenty of business companies use free Asterisk software and place it on their server, thus creating a cut-rate IP-PBX. They use manuals provided on setting up the extensions, and occasionally there are lots of discrepancies. Finding out how to install a dial plan or call flow, the set of regulations detailing how the switch deals with inbound and outbound calls is very difficult.
One option is to get comprehension on programming call flow by using the text based dial plan syntax. In case that is too difficult, businesses can find someone to do it, which diminishes the advantages of the free software. Alternatively they can use help of the user friendly GUI based Asterisk dial plan approach.
Apstel's Option for Asterisk dial plan
Los Angeles based Apstel LCC, is claiming its product named Visual Dial Plan is perfectly built for the dial plan creation. Company states that they produced a special visual environment and created "building blocks" for each application and function in form of a dial plan. A GUI is leveraged for dragging and dropping building blocks into the working area, and then joints the blocks in order to create a call flow for outgoing and incoming phone calls.
This attitude has several privileges over the GUI-based dial-plan tools that are included with regular turnkey Asterisk server packages. One of them is not as clearly focusing on the specific task of creating call flows in frames of thedial plan. The used approach is of a universal or open architecture nature.
Another advantage of Visual Dialplan concept over traditional web based ones is its independence from Web browser; for instance, users of PowerPoint presentation can just stick to visualization of Asterisk dial plan in different PC window.
Potential users of new approach to dial plan
Two groups of users are targeted by Visual Dialplan. First ones are the small companies with already preconfigured the Asterisk switch with extensions and voicemail boxes and now they have to create and routinely maintain the dial plan. This group of users will find Visual Dialplan providing extra freedom and accessibility to more dial plan features.
The second group of users is the businesses, which are providing dial plans for other businesses, and simultaneously are managing a number of complex Asterisk dial plans, according to Apstel Company. Visual Dialplan delivers them the tools for development of complex and powerful dial plans and trading them. Since it visualizes the full options of call flow in handy format, users can easily communicate the dial plan to their customer, because the customer sees graphically what outbound or inbound calls will do, once dial plan is implemented.
The first version of Visual Dialplan by Apstel was produced in Java script, compatible with running on all basic platforms. Not so long ago the Linux option was introduced, and very soon the newest addition, Version 1.3. This upgrade will one click deploy the new Asterisk dial plans on remote boxes, providing all the services the Asterisk admin would normally require. Later on Asterisk 1.6 emerged with the several features of version 1.2 and 1.4, and also it features new dial plan functions.