Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Conferencing is coming...

Many Eclipse community people are probably familiar with the Foundation's conference calling solution, having attended meetings in some manner via the dial-ins. Well, not surprisingly, that has turned out to be a relatively expensive service and the cost has prevented us from being able to roll it out more widely to the community. It's something people seem to want, and we'd like to provide it--while getting off of the more expensive service we're using now. So we talked about it a lot at the Foundation and Bjorn entered this bug to get a reference point for the desired replacement. Denis (my illustrious boss) has mentioned this on many different occasions, but we're actually getting close to putting it out there for the community to consume. The idea is to use cheap IAX and SIP soft clients to hold most of the calls. Bandwidth is not free (as in beer) but it is much cheaper than the dial-in conferences.

So toward these ends, I've spent some time setting up an Asterisk server on our network and getting a reference implementation working for internal testing. That has all worked out quite well so over the next month or so we on the IT team will be working on the rollout plan. Project leads and PMC members will get a new component on the Portal which lets them schedule conference calls. It won't start out doing anything fancy like managing invitations, but it will let people schedule conference times and get a conference number and pin. Calls are only valid for the time during which they are scheduled. Scheduling will be live, which means you can schedule a call for immediate use. Here's what the panel will look like for showing existing conferences:

If you have a few scheduled they will all show up here. Old conferences will only show up for a few hours and then disappear. If you want to add a conference, the component tries to be somewhat intelligent about what you want to do and will automatically pick a conference number, PIN, start time, and duration. The default start time is immediately, but it can easily be scheduled for another time (times are in America/Montreal timezone, otherwise known as Eastern Time). There is no fancy date picker at the moment, but we have some ideas on how to make this easier to use. But for now, here is what the "add" panel looks like:

Nothing too amazing in the implementation, but this should really make life easier for projects who need to have calls for people across diverse locations.

Look for it in the near future!


Anonymous Doug Schaefer said...

Very cool. I've been keeping an eye on Asterisk for a while and it's great to see Eclipse putting it to use. It will be interesting to see how well it scales. Our CDT calls usually get a dozen or so attendees. We'd be happy to try this out.

5:18 PM  
Anonymous Karl Matthias said...

Cool, Doug. We'll let you all know when it's rolled out!

7:37 AM  

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