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

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 .

PBX replacement with MS Lync (with Dual Forking) Part 2

As i mention in my last post (part 1) we can choose to use the Voice gateway in pass-through as shown here :

PBXReplacementPart2_Example_base scenario

but to do this , we have to consider various steps before moving the IP-PBX in production  and insert voice gateway between PSTN and the enviroment, so let start from the beginning,  these are necessary steps :

1.  Voice gateway configuration for PSTN trunk (only configuration not yet connected), in the other side (to lync and to PBX) configuration of SIP trunk to Lync and SIP trunk to IP-PBX (IMPORTANT : to obtain a dual forking of calls in this scenario we must use only sip trunk to and from  PBX , so we must have an IP-PBX with sip trunk enabled ).

At this step we don’t have any disservice on IP-PBX production environment but we are ready to switch PSTN from IP-PBX to Voice gateway .PBXReplacement_part2_Example_step1

2.  We can schedule session tests to verify that all configuration made before work    fine (for example during time range in which we couldn’t have any outages to users, for example during the night?), in this way if not all scheduled tests list will be fine , we can rollback easily and move PSTN trunk to IP-PBX again.

To achieve this we must locate the Voice gateway properly sized, to mantain compliance on  requirement in terms of business continuity, for example redundant power supply , right number of SIP channels to/from lync, and to/from IP-PBX.

In this way we can also test a SIP trunking from a provider instead of PSTN (or buy another PSTN trunk to do a test pilot for Lync voice for example) , because until we switch the PSTN from IP-PBX to Voice Gateway, we can work easily in Voice Gateways side without give any problem in IP-PBX side.

About call flow management and dual forking we have the same behavior as i wrote in my previous post (part 1) , unique difference is that all configuration for dual forking is made in Voice gateways side , and in PBX side we have only to switch all inbound and outbound call to the new SIP trunk instead of PSTN trunk already switched off.

At this point we can assert that we have a lot of way to do a soft migration or simply to use the existence telephony infrastructure for Lync and generally Microsoft UC. We know that Microsoft Lync just for presence/audio/video/conference is really wasted and with a good approach and a small effort we can implement an excellent Lync Voice project for a really Unified Communications experience.