Version 20 is more than just a new version. V20 is the future of 3CX. With V20, we have redesigned 3CX from the ground up – ready for current and future market requirements.
Originally, 3CX was designed for on-site installation (telephone systems only) and aimed at small and medium-sized companies. At a time when hardly anyone used SIP trunks and everyone still had a fax.
Over time, we have of course added a Linux version and cloud support. Our system found many larger customers who used it at several locations and with a large number of users. There was also the requirement to add SMS, live chat and WhatsApp to provide true omnichannel support for modern contact centers. Our smaller customers – 4SC free and commercial – continued to have dedicated installations, but as the need for more frequent security updates increased, managing individual instances became an overhead for 3CX, partners and administrators. A multi-instance version of 3CX was required and introduced.
Version 20 has a completely new administration console. It is called “Admin Console” and is now part of the 3CX client. Users can switch directly from the 3CX client to the admin console without the need for a separate login or URL.
We have taken the opportunity to modernize the entire 3CX administration interface and focus on functions that are relevant today. We have simplified the configuration of many advanced functions.
With the removal of the administration console, two administrator types disappear: Root administrator and hosting administrator. These “invisible” users had no audit logs and therefore had to opt for a system administrator or remote administrator. The remote administrator role is reserved for off-site administration, for example by a partner.
Groups become departments and more efficient
A large part of V20 is the new departments. Divisions replace groups, as these more accurately represent what they are. In Windows Active Directory, these departments are referred to as organizational units. These departments are now much more powerful – they can set their own office hours, holidays, time zones and language settings. Soon they will also have their own telephone book and CRM configuration, among other things.
Users who are members of a group inherit these settings automatically. Gone are the global office hours. This makes configuration and administration much easier for larger installations. Individual extensions may continue to have priority over the department’s opening hours.
Departments are also the basis of our new security: you can use departments and roles to define authorizations in more detail. For example, you could have a “Sales” department that has its own administrator who is responsible for user management and IVRs. In addition to users, you can make any system extension or exchange line a member of a group. Exchange lines are valid system-wide by default.
Remember that the security roles are assigned to each group to which a user belongs. So if your default group contains all users and you make someone the group administrator, he/she can manage all users.
If you are not interested in using departments, you can simply stick to the one standard group that every installation of 3CX has. IVRs and other system extensions are part of this standard group – by default!
New easy-to-remember URL
Now that the client and admin console are merged into one site, we can have an easy to remember FQDN for users and administrators. The web client slug is no longer required, for example:
Before V20: https://firma.3cx.de/webclient/
With the new, easy-to-remember FQDN and the ability for users to set their own password or use SSO, there is less reliance on the welcome email. Administrators do not have to resend welcome e‑mails to users.
New native Windows softphone
One of the biggest innovations is a new native 3CX Windows softphone. This is an app similar to the iOS or Android app, which is executed in conjunction with the web client. The native softphone overcomes a number of limitations of PWA in terms of controlling window notifications. Instead of a simple call notification, a real answer dialog is displayed. In addition, a native softphone enables browser-independent audio control.
Secure deployment via the Microsoft Store
The big difference to the current native app is that it is delivered via the Windows Store – this means much more security from the start: every native Windows app is checked for security by Microsoft, so we can avoid situations like before. This also means that we can update the softphone separately from the main 3CX build for better manageability. The software app is limited to call and essential PBX functions, just like you have in the iOS or Android app. With the 3CX softphone, the electronics-based desktop app is no longer required.
New Call Manager (SIP server)
V20 has a completely new call manager: Based on 15 years of experience in over 350,000 installations, we have adapted the call manager for the future:
- New queuing strategy: activation of busy agents (multi-line queuing strategy).
- Better integration with the call queuing service, resulting in improved performance and reporting.
- New internal API that improves functions such as parking, conference, etc.
- Better call control, fewer failed transfers, etc.
- Better/faster call pick-up and activation.
- Callback on busy – now fully supported.
- The call group works better and can contain an external number.
- The Makecall service, which allows you to initiate calls on a desk phone or smartphone, has been significantly improved:
- Calls are initiated with the correct caller ID.
- Works with any device.
- Makecall calls are displayed correctly in the reports.
- Supports DECT telephones.
- Dial tones can be heard immediately.
- For calls via the web client: Fewer WebRTC registrations, allowing more users to be supported.
- Event logs are not cluttered with unnecessary event logs for registry updates.
- Queues and digital receptionists can now have group consultation times.
We have also improved security, performance and testability so that we can develop faster and for larger installations.
With the new call manager, we were able to simplify the call logs from which the reports are generated and make them more accurate. As soon as we release version 20, we can focus on creating more and more visual reports. We know that reports require attention. This will be one of the first things we do after the first update.
If we switch directly to Debian 12, we get the latest Resiprocate engine as well as the latest versions of Nginx and the latest security patches that make the installation future-proof. When you upgrade, you will be redirected to Debian 12 in two steps: first to Debian 11 and then after a reboot to Debian 12. You are using the latest and greatest operating system available today!
New powerful API
We will release two new APIs: one for the configuration side and one for the client/call control side.
- The configuration API allows you to create users and settings.
- The client side used by our apps allows you to get real-time information about user status, call status and even control calls!
Relatively experienced developers are required for both APIs.
In this version, we have concentrated on improving troubleshooting and the supportability of 3CX. We have significantly improved the events, which now give much more information about what is happening and what you can do to fix problems yourself. The old activity and Wireshark logs are less important as they are both only needed for advanced level 3 troubleshooting. The focus is on the event log and a page on the health check. Another great feature we’re adding is a VoIP quality monitor that tells you which part of the call is the problem.
Certain requirements apply to version 20:
- Split DNS is required for on-site installations, i.e. the 3CX FQDN must be fully resolvable both inside and outside the LAN. This means your own DNS server or a firewall that can run Hairpin-NAT. Very small networks may need to migrate to the cloud or replace the router.
- Each installation must have at least one system owner. Further information can be found here. You cannot perform an upgrade without a system owner being defined.
- You need to reconfigure your global office hours, holidays and usage departments. If you do not want to use departments, you can simply customize the default department. Until you do this, however, everything will continue to work as before. You only have to do this if you want to edit the office hours.
On the roadmap
There are a few things we are working on that won’t make it into the first version:
- Integrated video conferencing service – easily configure your own video conferencing service. Maximum confidentiality for your video calls.
- Wallboard and switchboards – we create more views and make them more configurable. An outbound wallboard is also planned.
- Receptionist perspective: We want to make life easier for receptionists by setting up a dedicated switchboard optimized for faster handling of incoming calls by receptionists.
- Group SMS dispatch.
- Multi-instance/self-hosted SMB – this will be the subject of a separate blog post.
- Teams integration – we will create a separate blog post with our plans for Teams integration.
We can’t give an exact release date, but we are planning a preview in October, followed by an alpha or beta release in the same month. A number of features will be implemented in later versions, including Teams integration, bridges, host desking and CFD apps.
We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.