About Gianluca Bellu

I'm a UCC Engineer for BT Switzerland.

The Great world of Lync UC SDK

After some time , i decide to write this post to share some of my thoughts about Lync developing. Some time ago I’ve wrote a Lync plugin (CallViaPhone app ) that let to use Lync client to start calls directly from an ip-phone, and it gave me a lot of challenges . So, questions could be :

  • Why do I need to develop an application for Lync ?

Professionals that know Lync , know that a lot of features are still not available (or not designed at all) and sometimes this lack of features, could move customers decisions to another technology. In this case we could “extend” Lync with SDK. A good example of cauldron of ideas could be : http://lync.ideascale.com/  .

  • Where should I start and what approach should I have?

First of all , we must have little confidence about developing, example could be install Visual Studio and try to develop some “hello world” application on different enviroments like WPF (XAML) to develop Windows applications with rich graphical interface, or console applications to develop Windows services , or .NET web applications , web services , and so on. But the question could be, why should I have to learn all of these ? Because we need to have a 360° vision and we must use the right enviroment for the project.

Secondly we must have clear what we want to do : do we need a client application to extend Lync client , or we need to develop a server side application centralized for all users , or both? In all of these case we could find a lot of example on how to do it . A good starting point could be this : http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/office/jj162980(v=office.15).aspx , in which there is a lot of explanations about these :

  • Lync 2013 SDK (client side)

– These API gives you the possibility to control almost all Lync client behavior ,and interact with it. Example could be CRM integrations , client PBX integration , etc…

– There are also the option to add some custom menu in Lync interface to call applications or web url with registry key; for more information visit : http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/office/jj945535(v=office.15).aspx

– One of the most advantage of Lync Client API , compared to the others Lync API, is that you can develop also in a Office365 enviroments without the needs of a Lync On-Premisev env.

  • Lync Server 2013 SDK (server side)

– With these API you can manage,  in Lync Front End role , all sip communications. This means that, for example, i would like to create the BusyOnBusy feature (actually missing from Lync features)  , so i could develop a “Sip application”  with the “SIP application manifest” (MSPL script) that intercept a call if the user lync called is actually in another audio call.

– Another way to use Lync Server 2013 SDK is to develop a “Managed SIP applications API” ;  the mode is similar to MSPL script , indeed you must start from a MSPL script that route (forking or forwarding) the sip signaling to one or more specific endpoint, and then you can develop a .NET application that manage it. An example could be a reporting third party solution, or some advanced applications that take care of all Lync conversations .

  • UCMA 4.0 (Server side)

– With UCMA we can develop almost all of advanced features needed in enterprise scenario , for example , based on business needs we can develop a full functionally contact center with IVR (not response Group 🙂 ) , routing logic and so on. Great advantage is that we can extend it with all lync communications channel  , such as Audio, Video, IM, federation, Public (Skype, etc…) . UCMA give us also all tools that typically you have to pay so much with other vendors , for example : “Text To Speech”, “Speech Recognition” in a IVR enviroment.

  • UCWA 1.0 (web side :))

–  Unified Communications Web API ,  actually with these API you can develop your own web applications with some features like authentication, presence, IM and the Call Via Work (you simply manage the call forwarding , simultaneosly call, of your lync user) . We hope as soon as they will be ready , also Audio, Video and other lync features could be used in web applications. http://ucwa.lync.com/documentation/core-features .

  • Lync Software Defined Networking (SDN) API

– Imagine that you are at carrier side and you have to monitor some indicators for Lync quality , network performance , etc.. You have to integrate all of these in a third party monitoring system  ; these API is exactly what you need; take a look at this for other informations : http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/office/dn387069(v=office.15).aspx . A very interesting tool inside this API is the “SIP Obfuscator” that let you to hide username for privacy.

Conclusion

We have a lot of other sources to read about Lync SDK, for example these resources below are absolutely useful and saved my time in a lot of situations   :

Remember that deep knowledge of Lync API is not enough to develop a Lync applications ready for the market , we have to consider that there are a lot of aspects in terms of exceptions, enviroments , usability , integration with other not Lync application  , licensing , security, and so on .

A lot of companies today invest in Lync developing , awesome example are :

 

CallViaPhone Advanced new feature for Outlook 2010/2013

Hi all,
I am pleased to announce a new version of CallViaPhoneAdvanced 2013 . As already mentioned in my previous posts,  CallViaPhone application,  through Lync interface, can be used to make and handle calls (similar to Better Together features of snom and polycom) to your phone (make call, close, hold, transfer, conference) , for more details please refer to this post CallViaPhone post detailed description .
Here below you can find new features of this version more in deep :

  • One of the most important new feature added is  that, from now, you can also use Microsoft Outlook 2010/2013, regardless of Lync. So the “call by phone” can be made ​​as described below:
    • From contacts in mail header or in appointment header:

mail-item

  • From Outlook Contacts Folder :

contact-item

  • New menu in configurator to use CallViaPhone with these ip-phone models :

PhoneModelsChoose

    • Snom Phones (default selection)
    • Cisco ip-phone (require some configuration on Cisco Call Manager, with this version we don’t have yet features like Close call, Hold Call, transfer call and conference call and Incoming call feature)
    • Yealink ip-phones (not available Incoming call feature)
    • Automatic check for new applications updates

You can download full version  (15 days limited) :

  • If you don’t have Lync  installed you can install any of these above for using Outlook callviaphone feature.
  • If you already have an old version of CallViaPhone , you don’t have to uninstall it, just install over.

For any questions don’t hesitate to contact sales@callviaphoneapp.com or support@callviaphoneapp.com

Review of “Getting Started with Microsoft Lync Server 2013” by Fabrizio Volpe

Hi all,

I just finished reading the book written by Fabrizio Volpe on Lync 2013 and my first impression is very positive (you can find information about Fabrizio here) .

The book has a well-organized structure and has a very fluid writing. This allows readers to read without getting bored. Entering deeper into technical topics I can say that is very comprehensive in all of it and personally there are parts of it that I’ve not yet had the opportunity to implement in my various projects such as SQL witness and all scenario in which disaster recovery is necessary by design. Topics about Enterprise Voice is very clear and to start learning about this very important argument it’s a good starting point.

Another important aspect is that it can be very useful for post-delivery documentation, for example during a project, each of us should write a lot of documentation and it must be complete and especially comprehensive as much as possible because customers could not be a Lync Expert; so this book could be for you. Obviously there are certain aspects that each of us must deepen with external resources , and for this reasons Fabrizio wrote, in the book, a lot of external link that help us on it.

So in conclusion for me it is a must-to-have book and if you want to buy it you can go to PacketPub store or Amazon Store .

Getting started with Microsoft Lync Server 2013 by Fabrizio Volpe

Auto Answer Video Kiosk application for Lync 2010/ 2013

Hi all,

about 1 year ago Scott Hanselman  wrote an awesome lync tool named Lync 2010 Super Simple Auto Answer Video Kiosk with Full Screen, you can find a complete description  here :

Full Description of Super Simple Auto Answer Video Kiosk with FullScreen

Basically this tool let you to turn any PC in a complete “auto remote working machine” just calling it from Lync .

This can be very useful in any situations in which we have to connect, without human intervention, in that PC . For example it can be used to see, with video, what’s happening in that place, or simply when you want to show Lync feature during sales presentations.

Usage is very simple, just start Lync 2010 or Lync 2013 ,(binaries version below is with NotUISuppressed, this mean that you have to start Lync client before launching AutoAnswer) , go to SuperSimpleLyncKiosk.exe.config  file and insert your sip uri  like this :

<setting name=”sipEmailAddress” serializeAs=”String”>
                <value>sip:yoursip@yourdomain</value>
</setting>

and Save.

Ready to work , just open SuperSimpleLyncKiosk.exe and enjoy 🙂

Just a couple of months ago , i saw that there’s not a direct download to binaries , for this reason I contact Scott asking him the permission to publish  binaries , thanks Scott!! 🙂

So for who that doesn’t have a way to compile a Visual Studio project , here below you can find the executable :

Personally i learn a lot seeing code of this tool, and for this i thanks another time Scott for his job.

Obviously all credit goes to Scott 🙂

Call Via Phone ADVANCED for Lync 2010 & Lync 2013 , deep review and download link

Hi all ,

As i wrote in my previous article that you can find here : CallViaPhoneAdvanced  , this plugin is developed for SNOM phone and Lync 2010/2013 and permit to control the phone with right click on a contact in Lync (Lync contacts, Outlook contacts , Active Directory contacts) and start calls directly from the phone, like CTI (Computer Telephony Integration) .

We know that in WPC 2013 , SNOM demonstrate Enhanced Better Together that could be available at the end of 2013 , in Matt Landis blogpost here , you can find a detailed description.  This new SNOM feature add a new driver in Lync that let you choose what default Audio device use for every call that you made from lync , these calls start from the phone , also when you receive a call you pick up the call from the phones and not from the client (if you have already configured  the snom audio device in Lync down- left menu ), but a good things is that you when you are in conversation , you can switch this call between Lync client and snom phone.

So what’s the difference between CallViaPhoneAdvanced and SNOM EBT ? There are more than one difference and benefits :

  • CallViaPhone Advanced doesn’t not require Lync user to have Enterprise voice for Outgoing call functionality (for example if you use snom phone connected to other vendors like asterisk, cisco ,etc.. and you use Lync with or without PBX integration )
  • When you start a call , if you want to decide call per call which phone use (snom phone or lync client) with CallViaPhoneAdvanced you can.
  • CallViaPhone Advanced allows  future customization and it’s in continuous developing  (Programming Phone keys, full interaction with any functionality available on the Phone)

Thanks to Michael LaMontagne,  a very skilled Lync Expert in Canada , i also develop the incoming call feature that let you to answer an inbound call from the phone, this simple adding another toast in left side of Lync toast with an “Answer by Phone” button, simply and immediate for user experience. But starting from this imagine how many customization we can implement :

  • when and incoming call arrive, start an external application with caller information (CRM?)
  • Busy on second call or based on presence status

In addition i want to encourage who want try the application (15 days limited) to download from link below  :

For last version please refer to this post.

if you want to learn more you can find an awesome review here made by  Michael LaMontagne.

Don’t hesitate to comment or ask information about it .

Call Via Phone ADVANCED for Lync

Hi all ,

I’m glad to announce the new Call Via Phone ADVANCED for Lync 2010 & Lync 2013 .

Call Via Phone Advanced application is a plug-in developed for interoperability between Microsoft Lync 2010/2013 and SNOM (but not limited to). This plug-in permits making call from your phone directly using your Lync client 2010/2013, via a simple click on a contact or a number and selecting “Call Via Phone” from Lync menu; the call will start directly from your phone without having to dial the number or search your contacts on the phone itself. The usage scenarios can be many, and the common denominator is surely to simplify and consequently save time in day by day activities.

Call Via Phone Advanced is fully integrated with Lync client, in fact after  installation you don’t need to run any additional service or application, but it’s called through a menu inside Lync client.

CallViaPhoneADV2

Below some scenarios in which Call Via Phone ADV can be used  :

  • Infrastructure Lync 2010/2013 integrated with voice, and phones connected directly to Lync .
  • Infrastructure Lync 2010/2013 not integrated with voice, and ip-phones connected to any other PBX .
  • As we know Lync 2013 and Skype are integrated also with audio, with Call Via Phone Advanced you can quickly call a skype users from Lync client and use IP-Phone insted of Lync client.

Call Via Phone Advanced installation is very simple and can be installed centrally because it’s provided with the installation package MSI (Microsoft Installer) and distributed through group policy on all clients.

The configuration of each client is due by entering IP Address of the phone to associate with, Lync extension or username, password or Lync PIN.

With “Call via Phone Advanced” you can also have the ability to handle the call (today only for SNOM phones) with various tools that allow to :

  • End Call
  • Hold call
  • Party adding
  • Transfer
  • Conference

The product is under continuous development with additional features, and on specific demand it can be also change to adapt to your enviroment.

Today Call Via Phone Advanced is available for SNOM ip-phones.

Under specific request to sales@callviaphoneapp.com , Call Via Phone Advanced can also be used in enviroment with these ip-phone vendors but not all models  :

  • Cisco
  • Polycom
  • Grandstream
  • 3CX
  • Yealink

Don’t hesitate to contact sales@callviaphoneapp.com for information and to request your evaluation copy.

If you want you can also download free-version here :

Link to : Call Via Phone freeware

Here below you can find brief functions description that you can have with freeware version :

Call Via Phone Description

New Lync 2013 book from Daniel Jonathan Valik

Hello everyone, I am pleased to announce the new book “Microsoft Lync 2013 Unified Communications: From Telephony to Real Time Communication in the Digital Age” by Daniel Jonathan  Valik, published by Packt Publishing:

https://www.packtpub.com/microsoft-lync-2013-unified-communication/book

The author is a Sr. Program Manager – Unified Communications in the Global Business Operations & Strategic Services division at the Microsoft Headquarters in Redmond / WA, USA.
For me it was an honor to be a reviewer of this book because I think that it is not only a classic technical handbook on Microsoft Lync and it can give the reader many tools to better understand the philosophy behind UC from many points of view.
In fact, the book starts with a general overview of how it changed the way to communicate over the years, what are our current communications needs and how we can satisfy them. Furthermore, through real-world examples you can learn all necessary steps needed and  how approach this technology in the best way.

Personally I learn a lot from this book and I want to thank Daniel and Packt Publishing for their excellent work.