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Interview: Ben Klang

Ben Klang will give a talk about "Voice Applications for the Modern Open Source Hacker" at FOSDEM 2012.

Could you briefly introduce yourself?

My name is Ben Klang. I will be presenting at FOSDEM as the leader of the Adhearsion project. However I have also contributed to many open source projects over the last 15 years, including the Horde Project, Asterisk and others. My home is Atlanta, GA where I live with my wife and 10 year old daughter.

What will your talk be about, exactly?

My talk will cover all the basics that an open source developer needs to get started hacking voice applications. We will tour the capabilities of modern telephony systems and demonstrate how all the pieces fit together.

What do you hope to accomplish by giving this talk? What do you expect?

I hope to encourage people to try something they likely have not tried before. Telephony is a fascinating topic that is often overlooked because of its perceived complexity. However open source has democratized and dramatically simplified a once-stale industry. That industry has been shaken to its core by Open Source and new possibilities are as exciting as they are endless. Integrating voice functionality with the rest of the web opens up a whole new world of possibilities. I hope to share my enthusiasm for this space with the audience and encourage them to explore it.

Does Adhearsion support all the features of Asterisk?

Adhearsion implements all the capabilities of Asterisk's two remote-control protocols, AGI and AMI. In that sense, we support all features that Asterisk exposes for remote control. There are certain media-specific operations that are only possible by writing C code that runs in Asterisk's core directly. However, for the vast majority of telephony applications, the remote facilities offered by Asterisk and Adhearsion are sufficient and powerful.

Does Adhearsion require vanilla Asterisk or does it also support or have plans to support Asterisk derivatives like Trixbox or alternatives like FreeSWITCH?

Trixbox is not so much a derivative of Asterisk as it is a distribution. As Linux is the kernel that powers Red Hat or Ubuntu, Asterisk is the telephony core that powers Trixbox, Elastix and PBX-in-a-Flash. We already have many in our community that use Adhearsion to provide additional functionality on top of Asterisk distributions (including Trixbox) and so that is fully supported.

As for alternatives to Asterisk, we have on our roadmap support for additional telephony engines such as FreeSWITCH and Mobicents. Strong steps toward that goal are visible in the Adhearsion 2.0 development cycle, the first alpha of which was released on January 17th. We will be talking more about that in the coming weeks.

How many developers are working on Adhearsion?

The Adhearsion core team consists of seven active developers and we have received contributions from dozens more.

Which new features can we expect to appear in Adhearsion this year?

Adhearsion 2.0 is currently in alpha releases and features many improvements. The most exciting improvement is our goal to make telephony applications portable. We have a vision to enable developers who write Adhearsion applications to be able to painlessly move between telephony engines such as FreeSWITCH or Asterisk, allowing them to choose the best tools for the job at hand.

Have you enjoyed previous FOSDEM editions?

This will be my first FOSDEM. From everything I've heard talking to friends, I'm incredibly excited to be involved!

If you have any questions on my answers or would like any additional detail, don't hesitate to let me know.

Creative Commons License
This interview is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Belgium License.