Introduction to AEL

AEL is a specialized language intended purely for describing Asterisk dial plans.

The current version was written by Steve Murphy, and is a rewrite of the original version.

This new version further extends AEL, and provides more flexible syntax, better error messages, and some missing functionality.

AEL is really the merger of 4 different 'languages', or syntaxes:

  1. The first and most obvious is the AEL syntax itself. A BNF is provided near the end of this document.
  2. The second syntax is the Expression Syntax, which is normally handled by Asterisk extension engine, as expressions enclosed in $[...]. The right hand side of assignments are wrapped in $[ ... ] by AEL, and so are the if and while expressions, among others.
  3. The third syntax is the Variable Reference Syntax, the stuff enclosed in ${..} curly braces. It's a bit more involved than just putting a variable name in there. You can include one of dozens of 'functions', and their arguments, and there are even some string manipulation notation in there.
  4. The last syntax that underlies AEL, and is not used directly in AEL, is the Extension Language Syntax. The extension language is what you see in extensions.conf, and AEL compiles the higher level AEL language into extensions and priorities, and passes them via function calls into Asterisk.

Embedded in this language is the Application/AGI commands, of which one application call per step, or priority can be made. You can think of this as a "macro assembler" language, that AEL will compile into.

Any programmer of AEL should be familiar with its syntax, of course, as well as the Expression syntax, and the Variable syntax.