Freeside 1.9.4 released

I’m pleased to announce the release of Freeside version 1.9.4.

Download: freeside-1.9.4.tar.gz
MD5sum: 5cd0c7d381384dca1195323ca7c2af16
SHA1sum: 6364b1c33552f829657a95adfa20151680d38242

Changelog: 1.9.4:Changelog

Upgrading: 1.9.4:Documentation:Upgrading

VMware appliance (409mb):
– Bittorrent (preferred):
– Direct download:

“Nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile”

– Ivan

Cool Calendars in 2.1

Freeside 2.1 was released this week without much fanfare.  The fanfare will be coming, but with the trade show coming up, I’ve been focused on getting ready for that.  I’m going to take a minute though and point out a new feature in 2.1… Calendars.


Freeside, through the integration with RT from Best Practical, now has support for iCal as well as a calendar report so that you can see the time line on a group of tickets.  For iCal integration, you will need calendaring software that supports the iCal feed.  There is a reasonably large list of iCal compatible software on Wikipedia.

To use calendaring, the first step is to create a search. For example you could search for all tickets that belong to you, or belong to a specific group of customers that you manage.  To get reminders too, you may want to add the following snippet (click the advanced link):

     AND (  Type = 'ticket' OR Type = 'reminder' )

Go ahead and run the search, and you should have a list of tickets and optionally reminders.  Now to do something with the dates…

First, for iCal, look at the upper right and there are a number of links for exporting the data.  You can download it via a spreadsheet, or get a feed from RSS or iCal.  Right-click on the iCal link and copy the link.  Then open your iCal software and past the link in the field for your iCal feed.  The system will export all of your due dates so that they will now show up on your calendar.  This is awesome for planning installation schedules.  Many applications will allow you to show multiple feeds ona single calendar, color coded – which is great for managers to ensure that they aren’t creating problems for the team.

The second thing that you can do with a list is get a calendar report.  if you look to the upper left, there is a calendar link.  This will show the start, end and due dates for all of the items in the current search.  This is really good for seeing how projects are progressing for a customer, or what the team has been working on.  To get a good picture for completed work, be sure to include all tickets, not just open tickets.

Being able to see what is coming up has been really helpful for me, and I hope that it will help you too.


Get the word out!

I am biased, but I think that Freeside is the best value in enterprise class billing platforms.  I’m not aware of another Billing and OSS platform that provides the same features and service as our software with configuration and support.  In a prior life, when I was a proprietary platform, We were paying about $1500/month for basic telephone support and annual upgrades.  Customization was astronomical @ $250/hour, and the hours they bid made my head spin.  We used to half joke that it was six-months and $1MM to get anything done in that billing system.  With that in mind, you can understand why I was so happy when, a little over seven years ago, I found Freeside.

I couldn’t believe that an installed and supported system was under $3,000, and telephone support for under $500/month! Seven years ago, it was even less.

Since then, I’ve been a huge advocate both of the open-source and paid installation path. I’ve gone to trade shows with Ivan, I’ve talked it up to almost anyone that would listen, which is why nobody was surprised when I joined Freeside.  Those who I have talked to can probably vouch for my infectious love of the billing platform, and I’m not exaggerating when I say, it changed my entire outlook on billing.

I have a problem though, It bums me out that we’re still relatively unknown.  Sure we get some airplay on mailing lists, and every now and then we’ll show up in a magazine article, (thank you to those who give us airplay and write magazine articles), but I’m looking for some help from the community.  I need evangelists who are willing to post a blog entry about our great billing system.  Friends that are part of a Linux Users’ group?  Do you belong to an ISP association?  A VoIP consortium?  Then spread the word – Tell people what you know… Freeside ROCKS!  Thank you for listening and thank you for sharing!


Address standardization

Hello folks,

Today I would like to show you an often over looked feature in Freeside, address standardization. Address standardization can dramatically reduce human error when entering data into the system and save money on bulk postage. Address standardization in Freeside works by querying the USPS database, resulting in cleaner and more accurate billing data.

The first step in enabling this feature in Freeside is to register for a USPS Webtools account. New account signup is located here. Once you receive your login and password you will need to fill out an additional form to let the USPS know you will NOT be using their service for batching purposes. You can find this form here. [Edit: Important: Do not check the “Non-U.S. Postal Service® package shipments”, “Address database cleansing”, or “Address batch processing” checkboxes]

While you are waiting to be approved, enter your USPS Webtools API UserID and Password into the Freeside back office interface by going to: Configuration-> Settings . The two settings you are looking for are called usps_webtools-userid, usps_webtools-password.

Once your application has been accepted and you have added the above configurations, address standardization will work. Whenever you edit customers with unstandardized information, you will receive the option to use the entered data or to use the standardized address.

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