And you thought you needed an Asterisk® PBX for your users to enjoy FREE text-to-speech applications such as current News Headlines and Weather reports from the convenience of their telephone. Well, move over Asterisk. FusionPBX™ for FreeSWITCH™ now offers virtually identical functionality with all of the terrific advantages that FusionPBX provides: reliability, updates, performance, security and an unmatched UC platform with no rivals. To get started, make sure you have completed the steps in our FusionPBX introductory tutorial.

Intuitive support in FusionPBX for interactive TTS or STT applications is not (yet) available. So we’re doing the next best thing. Once or more a day, we will use cron jobs to retrieve the latest News Headlines and Weather reports for your local area. Then anyone using your PBX can pick up a phone and listen to the News Headlines by dialing 951 or U.S. weather forecasts by dialing 947, or worldwide weather forecasts from ApiXU by dialing 949.1 We’ll be using IBM’s awesome TTS engine to handle the text-to-speech chores. We think you will agree that IBM’s offering is the best in the business. And you can’t beat the price. After your first free month, you get a million characters of FREE text-to-speech synthesis every month forever! For ApiXU worldwide weather data, your first 2,500 queries are also FREE every month.

Here’s a sample from the 3CX implementation of these identical applications:




 

Getting Started with IBM Bluemix TTS Service

You can start your free, 30-day trial of IBM Bluemix services without providing a credit card. Just sign up here. Once your account is activated, here’s how to obtain credentials for the TTS service to use with FusionPBX. Start by logging in to your IBM Bluemix account. Once you’re logged in, click on your account name (1) in the upper right corner of your web page to reveal the pull-down to select your Region, Organization, and Space. Follow the blue links at the bottom of the pull-down menu to create an Organization and Space for your TTS service.



Next, click the Menu icon which is displayed as three horizontal bars on the left side of the web page. Choose Watson. Click Create Watson Service and select Text to Speech from the applications listing. Watson will generate a new TTS service template and display it. Make certain that your Region, Organization, and Space are shown correctly. Then verify that the Standard Pricing Plan is selected. When everything is correct, click the Create button.

When your Text to Speech application displays, click Service Credentials and then click New Credential (+). When the Add New Credential dialog appears, leave the default settings as they are and click Add. Your Credentials Listing then will appear. Click View Credentials beside the new entry you just created. Write down your URL, username, and password. You’ll need these in Step #4 below to configure the IBM Bluemix TTS service. Logout of the IBM Cloud by clicking on the little face in the upper right corner of your browser window and choose Log Out. Confirm that you do, indeed, wish to log out.

Getting Started with ApiXU Weather

Finding free worldwide weather forecasts has been a difficult nut to crack. So we’re pleased to introduce ApiXU. Your first 5,000 API calls every month are free, but our Worldwide Weather application for FusionPBX actually makes two API calls to retrieve the latest weather conditions AND the weather forecast. What that means is you can make 2,500 free queries a month with the Nerd Vittles application. One or two a day should suffice. While the U.S. weather reports are retrieved by ZIP code, the ApiXU queries are retrieved by city. So long as you don’t choose small towns, the city names should be sufficiently unique to work well with the WorldWide Weather application. HINT: Nicosia in Cyprus (home of 3CX) works great! 😉




Before you can obtain worldwide weather reports, you’ll need to sign up for an account at ApiXU.com. Once you’re registered, log into your account and copy down your API Key. You’ll need it in a minute.

5 Steps to TTS Paradise with FusionPBX

Once you have your IBM TTS credentials in hand, there are only five simple steps to get everything set up for TTS application support on FusionPBX. When we’re finished, anyone on your PBX can pick up a phone and listen to the News Headlines by dialing 951, a U.S. Weather Forecast by dialing 947, or Worldwide Weather for most international cities by dialing 949.

  1. Download WAV file placeholders to FusionPBX
  2. Set up TTS Extensions in FusionPBX
  3. Install the Linux components to support TTS Applications
  4. Insert IBM and ApiXU Credentials, Email Address and Weather Locations
  5. Run the News Headlines and Weather Update Scripts

1. Downloading WAV File Placeholders

Login to your FusionPBX server as root using SSH or Putty. Change to /var/lib/freeswitch/recordings directory. List its contents to decipher the names of any subdirectories that have been created for your various FusionPBX domains. Change to each subdirectory under /var/lib/freeswitch/recordings and issue the following commands to install the TTS placeholders:

wget http://incrediblepbx.com/freeswitch/placeholders.tar.gz
tar zxvf placeholders.tar.gz
rm -f placeholders.tar.gz

IMPORTANT: Once you’ve copied the placeholders into position, use a browser to open the FusionPBX Dashboard for each of your domains. Navigate to Apps then Recordings and play each of the three placeholder files that were uploaded: News-update, Weather-forecast, and Weather-zip. Otherwise, they won’t be available for use in the next step of the setup.

2. Setting Up TTS Apps in FusionPBX

Before you can implement the Nerd Vittles TTS Apps for News Headlines, Weather by ZIP Code, and Worldwide Weather, we first need to create the proper environment on the FusionPBX side to support the new applications. We’ll be using the FusionPBX Dialplan Manager for this purpose. We need to set up three extensions to handle the calls: one for the News Headlines and one for each of the Weather applications.

Login to your FusionPBX Dashboard with a browser.

News Headlines: From the FusionPBX Dashboard, navigate to DialPlan, then Dialplan Manager, and click the Add (+) icon. Using your default Context, insert the following new entry into the Dialplan for News Headlines (951) by filling in the Name, Condition1, Action1, and Description fields as shown below. Leave the other defaults. Then click SAVE.



When the Dialplan listing reappears, find the NewsHeadlines entry in the list and click the pencil icon to Edit the entry. Add 951 in the Number field as shown below. Then click SAVE and BACK.



Now let’s add the Dialplan entries to support the two Weather applications.

Weather by ZIP Code: From the FusionPBX Dashboard, navigate to DialPlan, then Dialplan Manager, and click the Add (+) icon. Using your default Context, insert the following new entry into the Dialplan for Weather by ZIP Code (947) by filling in the Name, Condition1, Action1, and Description fields as shown below. Leave the other defaults. Then click SAVE.



When the Dialplan listing reappears, find the WeatherZIP entry in the list and click the pencil icon to Edit the entry. Add 947 in the Number field as shown below. Then click SAVE and BACK.



Worldwide Weather: From the FusionPBX Dashboard, navigate to DialPlan, then Dialplan Manager, and click the Add (+) icon. Using your default Context, insert the following new entry into the Dialplan for Worldwide Weather (949) by filling in the Name, Condition1, Action1, and Description fields as shown below. Leave the other defaults. Then click SAVE.



When the Dialplan listing reappears, find the WorldwideWeather entry in the list and click the pencil icon to Edit the entry. Add 949 in the Number field as shown below. Then click SAVE and BACK.



Try things out by dialing 947, 949, and 951 from any FusionPBX extension. Be sure these work before proceeding!

3. Installing Linux Components for TTS

First, we need to get the missing pieces in place to support TTS applications using IBM Bluemix TTS and the Nerd Vittles scripts. We want to add PHP support from the Linux CLI only so there will be no security issues. And we want to add support for SQLite 3 so we can look up latitude and longitude data for U.S. zip codes. Just issue the following commands to get everything set up:

apt-get update
apt-get -y install php-fpm php-curl php-cli php-pear php-db php-gd sqlite3 libsqlite3-dev
apt-get -y install sox lame libsox-fmt-mp3
sed -i 's|;cgi.fix_pathinfo=1|cgi.fix_pathinfo=0|' /etc/php/7.1/fpm/php.ini
systemctl restart php7.1-fpm

Next, we need to put the Nerd Vittles scripts and ZIP code database for SQLite 3 in place:

cd /
wget http://incrediblepbx.com/freeswitch/fusionpbx-tts-linux.tar.gz
tar zxvf fusionpbx-tts-linux.tar.gz
rm -f fusionpbx-tts-linux.tar.gz

Finally, we need to add cron jobs to run the three update scripts at least once a day. You can run them more often depending upon your needs. We have these configured to run at 6:15 am and 6:20 am every day. Adjust to meet your own requirements. On a busy PBX, you probably don’t want to run them during the workday.

echo "15 6 * * * root /root/nv-weather-update.sh >/dev/null 2>&1" >> /etc/crontab
echo "20 6 * * * root /root/nv-news-update.sh >/dev/null 2>&1" >> /etc/crontab
echo "25 6 * * * root /root/nv-wwweather-update.sh >/dev/null 2>&1" >> /etc/crontab

4. Adding TTS Credentials to FusionPBX

Now we need to add your IBM TTS and ApiXU credentials, email address, a local ZIP code for Weather by ZIP code reports, and a city for Worldwide Weather reports. Edit the credentials file and save it with your information:

cd /root
nano -w ibm-credentials.php

5. Running the News & Weather Update Scripts

Finally, we need to run the News Headlines and two Weather update scripts once to put current data in place for FusionPBX callers. After the initial setup, the cron jobs will update the News Headlines and Weather reports every day moving forward. Press ENTER as each of the scripts finishes to get back to a command prompt.

cd /root
./nv-news-update.sh
./nv-weather-update.sh
./nv-wwweather-update.sh

Taking the News & Weather Apps for a Spin

Now you’re ready to try things out. From any phone connected to your PBX, dial 951 for current News Headlines. Then dial 947 for a local Weather Report matching your zip code. Finally, dial 949 to retrieve a worldwide weather forecast for most international cities.

If you don’t yet have a FusionPBX server set up but would like to sample the voice quality of the TTS applications running on our FusionPBX server in New York, here are several ways to try them out using an IVR we set up using an IBM voice prompt from last week’s tutorial. Airport codes reflect (PROVIDER LOCATION-SERVER LOCATION-DID LOCATION).

  • Skyetel DID: 843-970-9997 (SEA-BUF-CHS)
  • Vitelity DID: 646-666-5997 (DEN-BUF-NYC)
  • VoIPms DID: 843-606-0444 (ATL-BUF-CHS)
  • Free iNUM Call: 883510009901997 (ATL-BUF-ATL)
  • Free SIP Call: 883510009901997@sip.inum.net (ATL-BUF-ATL)

Originally published: Monday, September 24, 2018



Support Issues. With any application as sophisticated as this one, you’re bound to have questions. Blog comments are a terrible place to handle support issues although we welcome general comments about our articles and software. If you have particular support issues, we encourage you to get actively involved in the PBX in a Flash Forums. It’s the best Asterisk tech support site in the business, and it’s all free! Please have a look and post your support questions there. Unlike some forums, ours is extremely friendly and is supported by literally hundreds of gurus and thousands of users just like you. You won’t have to wait long for an answer to your question.



Need help with Asterisk? Visit the PBX in a Flash Forum.


 

Special Thanks to Our Generous Sponsors

FULL DISCLOSURE: RentPBX, Amazon, Vitelity, DigitalOcean, Vultr, Digium, Sangoma, 3CX, TelecomsXchange and others have provided financial support to Nerd Vittles and our open source projects through advertising, referral revenue, and/or merchandise. We’ve chosen these providers not the other way around. Our decisions are based upon their corporate reputation and the quality of their offerings and their pricing. Our recommendations regarding technology are reached without regard to financial compensation except in situations in which comparable products at comparable pricing are available from multiple sources. In this limited case, we support our sponsors because our sponsors support us.

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  1. The included applications are licensed pursuant to GPL2 with the exception of nv-worldwide-weather.php which is licensed pursuant to The MIT License. Terms and conditions of both licenses are included in /root/COPYING. []
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