In a surprising move, Digium in partnership with Edvina today released a new channel driver for Asterisk, chan_tweet. The driver connects seamlessly to several microblogging platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Laconi.ca/Identi.ca and GSM text/SMS. The main feature of this new module is to add audio and video capabilities to microblogging, making the popular microblogging networks a new platform for VoIP and IP realtime communication.

- “I have seen that the microblogging solutions building on the social network infrastructure have had enourmous unexploited capabilities”, says Mill Biller at Digium, “I’ve used it for a long time both personally and for the company and we realized early that by adding IAX2 support, we could now take these platforms one giant leap forward by adding realtime multimedia. I can now spend evenings chit-chatting in audio and HD-resolution video with all my audience around the world instead of sending short text messages. It’s truly awsome!”

Digium contracted Edvina in Sweden, a well-known company in the Asterisk community and long-term Digium business partner, to build this solution. Edvina has many years of experience in building large-scale IAX2 networks, as well as doing development on the IAX2 support in Asterisk.

- “IAX2 recently was published in an IETF RFC and we’re pushing it heavily in all VoIP forums.” says Olle Johansson of Edvina, “We’re hoping that the IAX2FORUM will get a lot of new members that are willing to adopt this technology for their intranets, microblogging services and VoIP infrastructures. In the coming month, we will present more information about new partners with more than 100K users that are going to switch from old technologies, like Hype, SIP and H.323. All of these protocols failed, either because they where proprietary or simply became too complex. SIP currently has more than 5.000 pages of documents describing all the features of the protocol and there’s no single implementation of all of these to test with. Considering the protocol being over 10 years old, this is a sad story.”- “We’ve done our best to fix the Asterisk SIP channel support for customers, but the customer base has been shrinking as more and more converted their networks to IAX2 and now, there’s simply no one interested in us doing that work. We’ve stated over and over again that the SIP channel in Asterisk is broken and no one can prove us right or wrong, because the protocol is just too complex.”

The Microblogmedia platform

The Microblogmedia(TM) platform, developed by Digium and Edvina, let’s users use any microblogging network to set up multimedia sessions. By compressing an IAX2 call setup event in the microblog message, web browsers and clients will connect automatically peer-2-peer if possible, or through the MicroBlogMediaRelay network that supports seamless NAT and firewall traversal by using automatic IPv6 tunnels.Asterisk 1.6.3, released later this month, will support this feature in the IAX2, H.323 and maybe in the old SIP channel (that is now marked deprecated). There is work on adding this feature to ISDN calls, by using messages in the D-channel for tunneling the IAX2 call setup messages. Digium’s VoxSwitch will support this feature in the next release, planned for q3 2009.

Ending the Hype project

In the same press release, Sock Stevens, product manager at Digium finally acknowledged that the Hype channel driver that was launched at Astricon 2008 will not be released after all.

– “We found only one partner to test interoperability with, and that’s not enough to make sure the channel driver being compatible with the protocol. And the protocol wasn’t published in any RFC at all, or any other document. So we finally gave up. We’re now dedicating resources for the new chan_tweet project and enhancing presence support in our IAX2 solution. With the installed base of IAX2 and the new MicroBlogMedia platform, this will be an even more impressive solution, reaching millions of IAX2 users in the enterprise as well as public sector and homes.”

Technichal factoids

  • chan_tweet is the result of the project labelled “Codename orangepeel” amongst the development team and builds on the new “Pinemango” architecture. This is the first channel driver not connecting directly to the Asterisk core, but to the Pinemango API over Adversion, the Ruby framework developed by Phil Jaysip.
  • The MicroBlogMediaRelay IAX2 platform is an open distributed network that builds on IPv6 and a facebook application, thus using the enormous bandwidth provided for free by the Facebook(TM) platform
  • chan_tweet will be released with the core module in Open Source, but with a license exception for plugin developers to add proprietary modules, like the Wireless Village plugin provided by the 3GPP project and the Unistim Microblog Solution by Nertol Networks.

For more information, please do not contact Digium sales.

To be released: 2009-04-01