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Operator Panel for Thirdlane

Posted by trinicom on Fri, 10/25/2019

Hey Gang,

As a hosted VoIP provider I have been under more pressure to have a Operator Panel with our offerings, and SMS texting. In fact have lost some deals and customers due to not having some of the bells and whistles like the competition.

How many of you folks would like to see this functionality built into Thirdlane multi and single editions?

If we could get a show of hands of who is interested the fine folks at Thirdlane might get motivated in getting it going.

So please respond to this if you think this could help your business.


Submitted by netriplex on Mon, 12/30/2019 Permalink

Probably most moved on like us. Thirdane is always 1+ years behind trying to catch up on features. Wasted dozens of hours of my time trying to get Alex to focus on things our customers needed and never got anywhere (I first asked for an operator panel directly to Alex in 2017).

I still believe Thirdlane is the best pure PBX product on the market and has enormous potential (which is why I still lurk in the forums hoping to be blown away some day). I do not know if he caters to a certain set of select ultra large clients that require certain obscure features or what, because every release I end up disappointed with some new feature that is highlighted as the centerpiece of the release that is completely useless to us and/or our clients, yet things we have been begging for that are essential for our clients (operator panel, backwards compatibility for mobile apps, more advanced call routing options, etc) are completely ignored.

Submitted by thirdlane on Thu, 01/09/2020 Permalink

The truth is that different customers have different priorities, besides, these priorities shift with the market and as these customers who are mostly service providers grow.

The upcoming release is addressing features that MANY customers want - improved scalability (clustering), security, ability to use Thirdlane Connect alongside a desk phone, better performance for both the management app and connect, modernized management UI, and other frequently requested features.

After adding Thirdlane Connect app and many changes that are required to support it, we will follow “stability over feature” rule. We see too many MVPs and “feature reach” applications and products that don’t work – we don’t want to follow this pattern. That is one reason of not including in the next release a few features, particularly SMS messaging, which were "almost ready". These will be included in the following release, - we are postponing their introduction to make sure they are done right from the start.

As far as the specific features mentioned by netriplex, they are not ignored - operator panel and advanced scalable call center app are high on our priority list, backwards compatibility for mobile apps is not (uphill battle), call routing changes will be addressed but later, as that will likely require some architecture changes that are also due in the future releases.

Also - a few customers asked for a simplified/limited management UI that can be “given” to customers and to the less experienced support personnel. Is this something we should consider?

Please feel free to send us email with features you really need and feel that we did not address so far.

We appreciate everyone's continued support and are working hard on getting the next release out of the door. Stay tuned!

Submitted by eeman on Tue, 01/14/2020 Permalink

iSymphony is still a good product that does work well, but there is a ticking timebomb going on in the background. There is no longer development of the product. The release from 2 yrs ago was the last release. When you buy your license you are informed that you get one year of support and upgrades. Yet there is no support. I have three support tickets that I opened in June. One of them was a very quick simple question. It was not even something that needed to get fixed it was a “how do I do this?“ Every 10 days my ticket automatically closes with not one single reply. Every 10 days I have to go re-open those tickets. Four months ago I emailed Sean Hetherington, the owner, asking if the product has been discontinued and citing The ridiculously long delay in responses. He assured me that this one guy was working these tickets he was just “behind“. Here we are four moths after that email exchange and still nothing. I do not believe Mike Yara, the original developer, still works at i9 Technologies. In fact, I suspect that the only thing still working is the automatic license generation tool. So when you buy your license you are basically just buying a perpetual license with no support. There is zero incentive to renew as there have been no updates no releases and no support.

Submitted by trinicom on Fri, 01/17/2020 Permalink

Alex and his team has build the best voip platform hands down. We even sell the business edition for him if a customer wants a PBX in house. However due to sales tactics from other providers with the bells and whistles we have customers who have left because of the lack of the operator panel and SMS texting integration, and ended up loosing bids because of it. I just had a 64 seat deal I had to send to Ring Central because of the Operator panel issue :( Luckily the vast majority of our user base just wants a phone system. This will of course change as people grow more savvy...

Submitted by eeman on Tue, 01/21/2020 Permalink

the Irony is people pick a platform based on bells and whistles and then never use them. They were swooned by the Acura Vigor with the Ski sleeve in the back that gives you a place to stick your skills without having to put the seat down. Yet they don't ski, hell they don't even own a pair of skis. Do you know how few people actually use the user portals in thirdlane? Yet it would be hard pressed to sell a system without a simple user interface. I have no problems showing the user portals, and I even follow up with 'as cool as this is, your end users will probably never use it'. Statistics don't lie. When they ask for help being able to do - something - that came up 6mos to 1yr later, and that - something - is so obviously find-me/follow-me, you just want to smack your forehead with your palm.

to fill your gap short-term use iSymphony for your operator panel. Aside from an issue with queues and people doing attended transfers to them, requiring a daily restart to clear the phantom list, it will meet and exceed their needs. I tried to get Eugene to work with me on getting the prosody user/pass combo for the extensions but he doesnt respond to my skype messages. If we could use the prosody xmpp server then iSymphony chat and the chat for Connect would be the same server, which means people could use either/or/both apps and still communicate with the end user.

SMS is a completely different issue entirely. There is no 1 standard for implementation and the only reason it works for ring central is because they control the carrier. They are not trying to build a platform where you bring any carrier you want. Its easy to design a interface that only works in a 2017 Ford Taurus SE. But trying to get it to work in a Toyota Camry, or even a 2019 Ford Taurus LE makes things difficult when they keep changing the layout. SMS over SIP just does not work well in asterisk. the message simply does not progress in dialplan. That means you cannot route it to a destination the way you do calls. Its stupid, since it should route like any other call, but there is no media attached. It also does not appear in CDR which means there is no way to bill the customer the same way that we bill per minute on a call. This matters when the carrier charges you by the message.

This leaves the only recourse that of a SMS <--> JSON https gateway. Unfortunately there is no RFC that says this is done one specific way. So if/when Alex does this, he is going to have to say 'we are going to make it work with provider XYZ and thats it'. So be prepared for the onslaught of bitching and moaning that he picked one carrier and the platform operators dont get a choice in the matter. Why did you chose Carrier A instead B or C?? Probably get accused of nepotism, cronyism, and setting up kickbacks in the process. Remember, no good deed goes unpunished.

Submitted by netriplex on Tue, 01/21/2020 Permalink


Agree and disagree with some of your comments.

Operator/Receptionist/Manager/Queue Panel is long overdue and has no restriction based on carrier choice which is why virtually every PBX product other than Thirdlane has had some type of panel included for 3+ years.

SMS support is an entirely different animal that I partially agree with your comments on. That is also why with the exception of the "big boys" that control the entire vertical infrastructure, carrier selection, and development in house, SMS support has not become mainstream in virtually ANY PBX product as of yet (although 3CX indicates that it is coming this quarter).

I disagree however that one carrier needs to be chosen to implement SMS with recent changes to "programmable telco" now available from most of the largest wholesale SIP providers. In fact, doing so would be an absolutely horrible implementation. Designed properly, carrier modules / extensions should be able to be easily developed either as a paid service from Thirdlane or independently by the provider / user of Thirdlane using a drop-in middleware "driver".

Thirdlane should have a standard interface for receiving SMS messages into the Thirdlane infrastructure and a standard interface for SMS to be sent from the Thirdlane infrastructure. Each of those interfaces should rely on a selectable "driver" to then actually interface with the provider and/or customers carrier to handle the actual transmission/reception of the SMS messages.

With this design (which is used in a lot of module products for widespread support and compatibility), the system can be extremely flexible. In fact, we have already custom programmed this exact type of interface for a customer so we are well aware that it works and is possible to implement.