To Put IP-Telephony on Rails

05 April 2013
By Kirill Timofeev, Software Project Manager

How do we maintain call quality and reduce the cost of multinational calls through a useful and user-friendly interface? I’d like to present DataArt’s example of how to make a corporate telephony not only sound, but even look perfect by using the Ruby on Rails framework.

Prehistory

DataArt technologists implemented IP-telephony five years ago to improve employee synergy between our New York and Voronezh offices. It was a simple system with a robot-operator that automatically connected you after dialing the correct number using tone dialing.

Years passed by, the calling techniques in DataArt had changed. It became possible to use a landline phone or a program downloaded to a computer or a mobile device for calls to London or Kiev or wherever you recepient is located. IP-telephony allowed making direct calls to employees or taking part in telephone conferences between offices. However, this useful product needed an attractive cover.

An Attractive and Useful Cover for Corporate Telephony

Our Ruby Competence Center experts developed an application with a user-friendly interface that met our needs. It was based on Asterisk (a software implementation of a telephone PBX) and the Ruby on Rails framework.

Picture 1: Redirecting calls to a mobile phone

Picture 1: Redirecting calls to a mobile phone

At first we used a micro framework named Sinatra. It took us about three weeks to make a pilot version. As a result we had a simple interface of a program with limited functionality. When the interface capabilities had been improved, the service was altered using Ruby on Rails.

Ruby on Rails as a full-stack web framework had enough features (e.g. native support of Json and XML formats; flexible approach of serializers) for development of the Asterix based solution. As a result the development process and fixing bugs took us less time.

Using the application, employees can connect themselves or their colleagues to a chat session (via their extension number, skype, or mobile phone) and record calls. Also, it allows redirecting calls from the PBX to a mobile phone, connecting multiple users together or viewing the call history (picture 1).

The new system allows users to take part in conferences even during business trips or vacations. They just enter the pin-number for the conference call into a special field and the program calls back in a few seconds. Connection to negotiations and meetings is free of charge to users and possible from any place in the world where network and mobile connection exists (picture 2).

Picture 2. All active participants are marked with green

Picture 2. All active participants are marked with green

You can also make your own conferences for personal needs and invite colleagues or customers. One of the significant advantages of working with IP-telephony is the ability to wear a headset, as there is no need to hold a phone or employing conferencing hardware.

Our PBX is integrated with our PM tool – DataArt’s time tracking system, which includes all personnel contact info from email to Skype. It’s very useful because the number of DataArt employees has increased twice over the last few years and the unified database makes connection easier. All PM changes (e.g. cell number) are automatically synchronized with the PBX database.

The application is available for iOS and is being developed for Android. Currently we are troubleshooting situations when employees do not have easy access to their laptops, yet are able to make IP-calls using their mobile phones (easier and cheaper). We also use it for all web-services connected with PBX.

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