Hijacked by RTFM to la-la land

I keep a vigilant eye on Google Alerts. To be more exact, I’ve got a few alerts defined, in accordance to subjects that interest me. Two of these subjects are Asterisk and FreeSwitch. Recently, the following had been posted on a personal blog:

Our PBX/IVR web-based generator Telfa has been moved from Asterisk to Freeswitch. Why?

Asterisk just seems to come from a different world than what I am used to. Inflexible and problematic. Very long configuration files with ancient syntax. Now I’m far from pretending I’ve used Asterisk enough to understand it pros and cons well, but I have a decent software development experience and I can tell when something “smells.” I didn’t want to build our system (that I want to be flexible and scale well) on some old technology that is only living from its past.

And (most importantly) there are many people experienced with both Asterisk and Freeswitch favoring the latter: Anders Brownworth, Jonathan Palley (creator of Telegraph, a Rails plug-in that lets you talk to Freeswitch), or of course the creator of Freeswitch (and former Asterisk developer!) Anthony Minessale himself.

[Extract from: http://onruby.flempo.com/2008/10/28/chose-freeswitch-over-asterisk/#comment-58]

Reading the above simply flames me UP – WHAT A LOAD OF BULL!

The writer admits that: “Now I’m far from pretending I’ve used Asterisk enough to understand it pros and cons well, but I have a decent software development experience and I can tell when something “smells.”” – If he’s such a worthy developer, the above simply proves that he’s simply an RTFM!

Asterisk provides a multitude of methodologies for configuration management, dialplan logic programming, programmatic API structures – basically, all the tools you need to go about and create your application. While I admit that FreeSwitch is slightly better at the “Core Switching” environment, implementing a near true Soft Switching architecture – Asterisk is a totally different thing.

A while back I decided to develop a couple of my better systems on FreeSwitch, as a test of my abilities. To see if I can be as proficient with FreeSwitch as I am with Asterisk. I re-developed the applications on FreeSwitch from scratch, however, FreeSwitch’s somewhat annoying XML configuration structures made it a hell for me to develop something that I would ask my customers to put their money on.

I started working with Asterisk in 2002, and starting 2003 I tried to have people in Israel start using Asterisk. I can honestly say that the first ever true adaptation of Asterisk in Israel came about only late 2005, and even that wasn’t for mission critical applications. Asterisk had achieved a point in which it is now considered a valid replacement for classic IN and NGN applications and engines, such as SigValue. I suspect that FreeSwitch will become a more dominant contender in that part within a period of 18 to 24 months, as its developer community will grow – time will tell.

In my large installations, I like using Asterisk as my IVR/Application engine envrionment and using FreeSwitch as my routing and LCR environment, simply because it’s capable of handling slightly more SIP-to-SIP connections than Asterisk – but that is the only reason, all the rest is Asterisk.

Both projects are wonderful tools, each one with its own set of strengths and weaknesses. Learn how to balance the use of the two, utilize the best of both world – and stop being a bloody purist, that’s exactly what leads to poor technologies such as Microsoft and poor life practices, like wars and terror.

I’m no web designer – I’m a developer

Lets put it this way: I am no web developer, nor was I ever, nor will I ever be. While I do enjoy playing around with various web designs and web technologies, I’m no web developer. Think about it, this blog is based upon the WordPress system, which means, that while I could easily build my own blog system – I didn’t.As most developers are, I am a lazy person – when it comes to writing code, that is. This means that when I write an application, I really like spending my time working on the application logic, rather than wasting my time on GUI. I’ve always looked for better ways to improve my applications development track, especially, the ability to seperate the logic from the display in such a way that both become agnostic to one another. So, I started looking into various MVC (Model-View-Controller) frameworks – which had been springing up all over the past year.

While the most popular one seems to be Ruby-On-Rails, I don’t like Ruby and prefare PHP. Various options exist here, so I seeked one that was easy to integrate and that is backed by a company of some sort.

Zend Framework

Much like PHP, Zend Framework appears to be a mixture of functions, closely wrapped into a set of classes, to help you create an MVC environment. I’ve started learning it, and shortly came to a conclusion: much like PHP, Zend Framework enables you a feature rich environment, however, it isn’t always clear how to get to do something with it.


CakePHP appears to be a slightly more rigid PHP MVC environment, with a fairly vibrant and lively community backing it up. However, like any other young community backed project, it lacks one main element: proper documentation. The documents available on the CakePHP.org website are sketchy at best, which means, there is no ordered manner of getting started fast with CakePHP.

Code Igniter

Code Igniter is a PHP MVC environment, backed by Ellis Labs – the same people behing Expression Engine. So, from a technical point of view, this is a plus, as Ellis Labs had made it its business to make Code Igniter a valid product. The amount of information available on the Internet is satisfactory, and the documentation on the website is more than good – it’s down right GREAT! The addition of video tutorials with a very clear naration enables even a novice developer to go about and start working fast with Code Igniter. The one thing that Code Igniter lacks is a rigid framework, which means, that just like PHP – it’s easy to fuck about and mess things up.

My Choice

Currently, I use a mixture of Code Igniter + Prototype + XAJAX to build my web applications, which makes for a fairly rapid development environment – I’d love to hear what you have to say about these.