Cool Feature – Attach Documents

At Freeside, we use Freeside… of course.  There are a number of cool features that we use, and I thought that I would share some of them.  If you’re not using them try them out, and if you’re running an older version, it may be time to upgrade.  As a disclaimer, some of them may only be available in the cvs version, but they will be in the next release.  So without further adieu…

Attach Documents.

For WISP billing and VoIP billing, it can be handy to have the design docs when you’re installing or troubleshooting a customer.  If you are billing for a service as we do, it can be handy to have specifications available.  Freeside has a couple of ways to help with document management so that all of the appropriate people can get the doc that they need, when they need it.

First, you can attach documents to tickets. It’s great for things like specifications and documents associated with that ticket.  Tickets are linked to the customer, so you can look at the ticket to get the information, and that’s really cool.  It’s like having a folder of everything that is need for that ticket, and you can pass it around and add to it.  The only bummer is that when the ticket is resolved, it no longer shows up in the list.  You have to click on resolved tickets and then select the correct ticket, which can be difficult if the customer has a lot of tickets.  Which brings me to part two…

You can attach documents directly to the customer.  I attach the executed contracts to the customer record so that I don’t have to dig for it.  Then when I go to the customer, all of the documents are there.  You can also store network diagrams, schematics,  scope of work documents, escalation directories, proposals, or pretty much any other file that would persist longer than a ticket.  It’s awesome.

I am careful to manage scope.  If it is project or issue related, it lives in a ticket.  If it relates to the ongoing support and operation of a customer, it is attached to the customer.  Like most things, sloppy scope management creates a huge list of global documents that clutter up the customer and make it difficult to quickly find the document that you are looking for.

For example, a ticket may be for building a custom CDR import.  The ticket would have the scope of work, the contract, a couple of proposals as part of the sales process, the CDR specification,  and other documents related to the project.  The contract has the larger scope, so it would make sense to upload it to the customer, while the other documents persist in the ticket.

Being able to easily attach documents makes things go much smoother for us, and I hope that it will be useful to you too.

If you have a favorite feature, feel free to send a note to sales and who knows, it may become one of my favorite features too.


1.7.4 released (not the droid you’re looking for)

Watch for a more exciting release announcement soon. In the meantime, I’m pleased to announce a release on our maintenance branch, 1.7.4.

Download: freeside-1.7.4.tar.gz
MD5sum: 12d22815b6e36a48c0ccb6c1e317e204

Changelog: 1.7.4:Changelog

Upgrading: 1.7.4:Documentation:Upgrading

VMware appliance (390mb):
– Bittorrent (preferred):
– Direct

Debian packages: 1.7:Documentation:InstallingUsingAPT

RPM packages: 1.7:Documentation:InstallingUsingRPM
(nothing built for 1.7.4 yet, but the FREESIDE_1_7_BRANCH packages are auto-built daily and are the same code)

– Ivan

Grandstream provisioning

So Jeff, our senior guru, recently finished adding a feature for automated provisioning of Grandstream phones and ATA devices. Here’s a quick look.

You’ll need a working Java runtime (JRE), the Grandstream Linux configuration tool, and a configuration template (or templates) for your specific phone(s) and/or ATA model(s). Unpack the configuration tool tarball (GS_CFG_GEN.tar.gz). It isn’t necessary to edit; you’ll be able to set JAVA_HOME and GAPSLITE_HOME in the Freeside interface.

Right now you’ll also need a Freeside 1.9 or 2.1 snapshot from March 5th or later (or the upcoming 1.9.2 release – more on that soon).

Lastly, you need a TFTP server to boot/reconfigure your device(s) from the resulting configuration file (without a TFTP server, you can still test generation of the configuration file).

First (well, after you have Freeside setup or upgraded), go to Configuration -> Provisioning and services -> Exports. Add a new export, and select “grandstream – Provision phone numbers to Grandstream Networks phones/ATAs” from the dropdown. A number of Grandstream-specific settings will appear.

Set “Export host” to the hostname or IP address of your TFTP server (if you don’t have one yet, set this to an arbitrary value). Verify or set the java path and the path to the Grandstream configuration tool. Patse the configuration template for your device in the “Configuration template” textarea, and edit the settings for your environment (i.e. replace “P47 =” with your SIP server, etc.).

If you have a TFTP server ready, turn on the “Enable upload to TFTP server via SSH” checkbox (if not, you can set this up later and skip to the next step). Enter a username and directory. You’ll need to setup SSH keys for that username.

All right, you’re done with the export setup. Click the “Add export” button at the bottom if you haven’t already and make sure there were no errors. Next, you need to associate the newly-added export with one or more devices. Under Configuration -> Phone -> View/Edit phone device types, add or edit a device corresponding to the template you used in the export. In the Exports section, check the box next to your newly-added export.

Okay, you’re ready to try it out now! Add a test customer and order a package with a phone serivce, or view an existing test phone service. (Setting things up from scratch? You’ll need to setup VoIP first. You can skip the rate plans and CDRs for now if you just want to see the Grandstream stuff.)

From the view page of the svc_phone service, you’ll see a Devices section at the bottom. Add a device of the type you added above and enter the MAC address. You’ll see the device is now listed in the Devices section, and there is a “Phone config” link. Click on the “Phone config” link to test the provisioning. If everything works, you should be prompted to download a binary file to configure the devices. If you setup a TFTP server, the config file is copied over to the TFTP server for you to boot and reconfigure the device.

Hope this is useful for folks out there using Grandstream devices.

– Ivan