Conditional Branching

Now that you’ve learned a bit about expressions and functions, it’s time to put them to use. By using expressions and functions, you can add even more advanced logic to your dialplan. To allow your dialplan to make decisions, you’ll use conditional branching. Let’s take a closer look.

The GotoIf() Application

The key to conditional branching is the GotoIf() application. GotoIf() evaluates an expression and sends the caller to a specific destination based on whether the expression evaluates to true or false.

GotoIf() uses a special syntax, often called the conditional syntax:


If the expression evaluates to true, the caller is sent to destination1. If the expression evaluates to false, the caller is sent to the second destination. So, what is true and what is false? An empty string and the number 0 evaluate as false. Anything else evaluates as true.

The destinations can each be one of the following:

  • A priority label within the same extension, such as weasels

  • An extension and a priority label within the same context, such as 123,weasels

  • A context, extension, and priority label, such as incoming,123,weasels

Either of the destinations may be omitted, but not both. If the omitted destination is to be followed, Asterisk simply goes on to the next priority in the current extension.

Let’s use GotoIf() in an example:

exten => 345,1,Set(TEST=1)
exten => 345,n,GotoIf($[${TEST} = 1]?weasels:iguanas)
exten => 345,n(weasels),Playback(weasels-eaten-phonesys)
exten => 345,n,Hangup()
exten => 345,n(iguanas),Playback(office-iguanas)
exten => 345,n,Hangup()


You will notice that we have used the Hangup() application following each Playback() application. This is done so that when we jump to the weasels label, the call stops before execution gets to the office-iguanas sound file. It is becoming increasingly common to see extensions broken up in to multiple components (protected from each other by the Hangup() command), each one acting as steps executed following a GotoIf().

Typically when you have this type of layout where you end up wanting to limit Asterisk from falling through to the next priority after you’ve performed that jump, it’s probably better to jump to separate extensions instead of priority labels. If anything, it makes it a bit more clear when reading the dialplan. We could rewrite the previous bit of dialplan like this:

exten => 345,1,Set(TEST=1)
exten => 345,n,GotoIf($[${TEST} = 1]?weasels,1:iguanas,1); now we're going to 
; extension,priority
exten => weasels,1,Playback(weasels-eaten-phonesys); this is NOT a label. 
; It is a different extension 
exten => weasels,n,Hangup()

exten => iguanas,1,Playback(office-iguanas)
exten => iguanas,n,Hangup()

By changing the value assigned to TEST in the first line, you should be able to have your Asterisk server play a different greeting.

Let’s look at another example of conditional branching. This time, we’ll use both Goto() and GotoIf() to count down from 10 and then hang up:

exten => 123,1,Set(COUNT=10)
exten => 123,n(start),GotoIf($[${COUNT} > 0]?:goodbye)
exten => 123,n,SayNumber(${COUNT})
exten => 123,n,Set(COUNT=$[${COUNT} - 1])
exten => 123,n,Goto(start)
exten => 123,n(goodbye),Hangup()

Let’s analyze this example. In the first priority, we set the variable COUNT to 10. Next, we check to see if COUNT is greater than 0. If it is, we move on to the next priority. (Don’t forget that if we omit a destination in the GotoIf() application, control goes to the next priority.) From there we speak the number, subtract 1 from COUNT, and go back to priority label start. If COUNT is less than or equal to 0, control goes to priority label goodbye, and the call is hung up.

The classic example of conditional branching is affectionately known as the anti-girlfriend logic. If the Caller ID number of the incoming call matches the phone number of the recipient’s ex-girlfriend, Asterisk gives a different message than it ordinarily would to any other caller. While somewhat simple and primitive, it’s a good example for learning about conditional branching within the Asterisk dialplan.

This example uses the CALLERID function, which allows us to retrieve the Caller ID information on the inbound call. Let’s assume for the sake of this example that the victim’s phone number is 888-555-1212:

exten => 123,1,GotoIf($[${CALLERID(num)} = 8885551212]?reject:allow)
exten => 123,n(allow),Dial(Zap/4)
exten => 123,n,Hangup()
exten => 123,n(reject),Playback(abandon-all-hope)
exten => 123,n,Hangup()

In priority 1, we call the GotoIf() application. It tells Asterisk to go to priority label reject if the Caller ID number matches 8885551212, and otherwise to go to priority label allow (we could have simply omitted the label name, causing the GotoIf() to fall through). If the Caller ID number matches, control of the call goes to priority label reject, which plays back an uninspiring message to the undesired caller. Otherwise, the call attempts to dial the recipient on channel Zap/4.

Time-Based Conditional Branching with GotoIfTime()

Another way to use conditional branching in your dialplan is with the GotoIfTime() application. Whereas GotoIf() evaluates an expression to decide what to do, GotoIfTime() looks at the current system time and uses that to decide whether or not to follow a different branch in the dialplan.

The most obvious use of this application is to give your callers a different greeting before and after normal business hours.

The syntax for the GotoIfTime() application looks like this:


In short, GotoIfTime() sends the call to the specified label if the current date and time match the criteria specified by times, days_of_week, days_of_month, and months. Let’s look at each argument in more detail:


This is a list of one or more time ranges, in a 24-hour format. As an example, 9:00 A.M. through 5:00 P.M. would be specified as 09:00-17:00. The day starts at 0:00 and ends at 23:59.


It is worth noting that times will properly wrap around. So if you wish to specify the times your office is closed, you might write 18:00-9:00 in the times parameter, and it will perform as expected. Note that this technique works as well for the other components of GotoIfTime. For example, you can write sat-sun to specify the weekend days.


This is a list of one or more days of the week. The days should be specified as mon, tue, wed, thu, fri, sat, and/or sun. Monday through Friday would be expressed as mon-fri. Tuesday and Thursday would be expressed as tue&thu.


Note that you can specify a combination of ranges and single days, as in: sun-mon&wed&fri-sat, or, more simply: wed&fri-mon.


This is a list of the numerical days of the month. Days are specified by the numbers 1 through 31. The 7th through the 12th would be expressed as 7-12, and the 15th and 30th of the month would be written as 15&30.


This is a list of one or more months of the year. The months should be written as jan-apr for a range, and separated with ampersands when wanting to include nonsequencial months, such as jan&mar&jun. You can also combine them like so: jan-apr&jun&oct-dec.

If you wish to match on all possible values for any of these arguments, simply put an * in for that argument.

The label argument can be any of the following:

  • A priority label within the same extension, such as time_has_passed

  • An extension and a priority within the same context, such as 123,time_has_passed

  • A context, extension, and priority, such as incoming,123,time_has_passed

Now that we’ve covered the syntax, let’s look at a couple of examples. The following example would match from 9:00 A.M. to 5:59 P.M., on Monday through Friday, on any day of the month, in any month of the year:

exten => s,1,GotoIfTime(09:00-17:59,mon-fri,*,*?open,s,1)

If the caller calls during these hours, the call will be sent to the first priority of the s extension in the context named open. If the call is made outside of the specified times, it will be sent to the next priority of the current extension. This allows you to easily branch on multiple times, as shown in the next example (note that you should always put your most specific time matches before the least specific ones):

; If it's any hour of the day, on any day of the week,
; during the fourth day of the month, in the month of July,
; we're closed
exten => s,1,GotoIfTime(*,*,4,jul?open,s,1)

; During business hours, send calls to the open context
exten => s,n,GotoIfTime(09:00-17:59|mon-fri|*|*?open,s,1)
exten => s,n,GotoIfTime(09:00-11:59|sat|*|*?open,s,1)

; Otherwise, we're closed
exten => s,n,Goto(closed,s,1)


If you run into the situation where you ask the question, “But I specified 17:58 and it’s now 17:59. Why is it still doing the same thing?” it should be noted that the granularity of the GotoIfTime() application is only to a two-minute period. So if you specify 18:00 as the ending time of a period, the system will continue to perform the same way for an additional minute, until 18:01:59.