Asterisk Definitive Guide

Asterisk Book

Ah, the power of Twitter. When I posted a review of the new FreeSWITCH book, a got a tweet from Leif Madsen (@leifmadsen) asking if I wanted to review the new Asterisk book. Absolutely!

Of course, if you remember my FTC disclosure

If I get something for free and I write about it, I guarantee it will not influence my opinion. I’ll write my true opinion.

So, to put this out there:

  1. I received this book for free.
  2. I am a big fan of Leif Madsen and have talked to him a few times at past Astricons, etc.

What does this mean?

If you think I’ll be biased on my review, you don’t know me. That’s awesome by the way, because if my blog was only read by people who knew me, it would be extremely boring (currently it’s only mildly boring).

Of course, I am writing a review on a book that I did not purchase co-authored by someone who I hold in a favorable light. For those that know me, that generally means I’ll be harsher on Leif than I would be to a stranger.

I hold people I know to a higher standard and expect them to do the same for me.

Anyway… this is a book review, so let’s get this party started.

Asterisk: The Definitive Guide 4th Edition

First thing you’ll notice? This book is freaking huge. Over 800 pages big.

The book is well written without being excessively verbose (that’s an asterisk pun); doing an excellent job of both explaining how to accomplish tasks and the technology behind it.

I’m a big fan of teaching the concept. If you learn why something is done, you can better understand how to accomplish a task. This book explains, very well, both the “how” and “why.”

Who should read this book

If you’re working with Asterisk, plan to work with Asterisk, or work with SIP, you should read this book. Appropriate for beginners to experts… and let me put it to you this way…

I’ve been working with Asterisk for just over 10 years now. I’ve worked on systems for carriers, call-centers, and small businesses. In 10 years, I’ve had to work with systems and scenarios that handle very high call volume, critical calls, and interesting can this even be done scenarios.

I’ve spoken at Astricon and work with Open Source VoIP systems on a daily basis.

I tell you that to tell you this:

I learned from this book. This is an excellent resource that offers great explanations from subject matter experts that know and love what they do.

If you’ve been using Asterisk since day one, you’ll find the explanations of the new modules invaluable. For example… if you’re going to be switching from MeetMe to ConfBridge, you’ll send me a thank you after reading the book.

There’s excellent discussion and explanation of ODBC, database integration, efficiency, security, and more.

Of course, there’s also other ways of working with Asterisk.

Database integration is a great example. Although the book does an amazing job of showing how to easily connect to outside databases, there are people like me who had such horrible experience with locks that we’re using our own methods.

I for one still use AGI scripting to do database work. I understand the ODBC modules were re-written, but from someone who lived through the world of horrible locks and crashes, I’m very comfortable with my method.

Of course, if you don’t learn the other methods, you’re not doing yourself (or potentially your clients) any favors.

This book is reasonably priced (US $54.99), is huge, well written, and necessary reading for anyone working with Asterisk. Highly recommended.

Available from O’Reilly: