It's been an exciting start to 2010 at FrontlineSMS - new staff, new funding, new office and now a new release - FrontlineSMS 1.6! Here's a quick post from Alex and Morgan, our developer team, introducing some of the major new features that you'll notice in the new version, and also our plans for the future
People have been asking for this for a long time, and now it's here. FrontlineSMS can now accept incoming HTTP requests to trigger message sending. This means that FrontlineSMS can easily be used as an SMS sending service for other applications, or even web services.
Plugin framework We've worked closely with the FrontlineSMS:Medic team, and Ushahidi, on a way to make FrontlineSMS more adaptable to specific needs. FrontlineSMS now has a framework for writing your own plugins so that you can implement new workflows and custom data handling more easily.
Statistics FrontlineSMS will now prompt you to send us back some simple information about how you're using the software, including:
- Which version you're running
- Which operating system
- How many contacts there are in the database
- How many messages have been sent and received
- The number of keywords you're using
This will help us understand who is using the software, and how, and also to show our very kind donors some key statistics about our user base. These figures will also lead to a very pretty blog post at some stage in the future. What's more, the statistics can be texted to us, which we thought was rather cool.
FrontlineSMS 1.6 comes with new translations including:
- Arabic by Amine Taha
- Azerbaijani (Azeri Turkish) by Oxana Zarukaeva
- Bangla (Bengali) by Arafat Rahman
- Hindi by Girish Babu
- Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian) by Iwan Suryolaksono
- Khmer by Vantharith
Many thanks to all of you for your contributions!
Under the hood
Along with the new features, we've also done a lot of work on the FrontlineSMS codebase to improve code quality, reliability and maintainability. These include modularising the UI, changing from our homegrown JDBC-based database engine to Hibernate, and adding extensive unit tests to the project. We've also restructured the Forms tab as a plugin implemented in the standard way.
Soon we'll be starting work on the next phase of FrontlineSMS development. Along with improvements to the plugin framework, general maintenance and working on support for new phones, we'll also be embarking on a major new feature: MMS! Currently FrontlineSMS allows you to send and receive text messages, but we're aiming to add support for picture messages soon.
Dale Zak has already developed the first contributed plugin for FrontlineSMS - "Reminders". It allows you to schedule SMS and email to be sent by FrontlineSMS at set intervals, e.g. every day or every week. Currently in beta, we look forward to including the Reminders plugin in a future release.
If you've got any queries, you can catch Alex, Morgan and the rest of the team on the community website at http://community.frontlinesms.com