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A Brief Introduction to the Programmer's Guide


How is Application/Web to Fax used in the business world?
Here are some Case Studies and Applications for different types of businesses…

Case Study 1: Potential Customer Alert

An auto club has a web site with information about buying new and used cars. It includes a page where car shoppers can fill in their name, phone number, and attributes of the car they are looking for. The application then faxes the data to the dealers as a formatted HTML file.

Case Study 2: Employee Search Service

A company provides a service to registered employers to allow them to send job descriptions to many different employment agencies with a single request. A previously registered employer logs into a web site and creates a description of the skills that are needed for a particular job. When the form is submitted, an HTML document describing the job is faxed to many different employment agencies. The fax has the address and contact info of the employer. This information is stored in a database maintained on the computer of the Search Service. The receiving employment agencies then send the people looking for work directly to the employer.

Case Study 3: Remote printing

A warehouse of a company currently receives pick lists for shipping via fax from the head office. The current system requires someone to print the pick list at the head office and put the list into a fax machine to send it to the warehouse. The new system would use Web to Fax. Instead of formatting the document as text and printing to a printer the application creates an HTML document and faxes it directly to the warehouse.

Case Study 4: Credit Card Transactions

A global hotel reservation service is booking rooms for clients. After receiving the customer information and associated credit card information through their secure site, they must forward it to the hotel to guarantee confirmation. Many hotels rely on fax and the telephone to process immediate requests for a reservation. Web to Fax allows the reservation service to securely send this information to the destination hotel fax machine. The information is sent as an encrypted document to our network where it is unencrypted and delivered to the hotel as a standard fax over the regular phone network. The hotel reservation system also uses Web to Fax to send a reservation confirmation and itinerary to the customer by fax when it is required.

Programmer's Guide:
Please note this section is meant for developers setting up Web to Fax. If you need help and you are not technical, please have your developer consult this page or contact VisionLab

DEVELOPER'S NOTE (RE: SECURITY*) Multiple security options are available for message handling include support for PGP, TLS & VPNs.

DEVELOPER'S NOTE (RE: ALTERNATE MESSAGE TRANSPORT*) FTP is a methodology that is supported for message handling. Custom integration and development for specialized and/or mission-critical projects is also available directly from VisionLab if required.

*not covered in this partial introduction to the Programmer's Guide

What are the requirements for Web to Fax messages sent via e-mail?

The e-mail message must be in MIME format with encoding of Base64 or Quote Printable.
The attached document format can be any of the following:

1) Postscript files

Postscript Level 3 is supported. DSC (Document Structuring Conventions) comments are recommended. Encapsulated Postscript uses DSC and is supported. This file type can only be in an attachment.

2) HTML files

Support of HTML file is a subset of HTML 3.2. Not all of the options on the supported tags work. This file has been created with only HTML tags that are supported. The following tags and options are supported:

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • Block-quote (to create indents of paragraphs)
  • Bulleted Lists (<UL> and <LI> tags)
  • Heading tags <H1> to <H6>
  • Paragraph tag
  • Align option on heading and paragraph tags
  • Pre tag works but displays a smaller font not a mono-spaced font

Following are some of the tags currently NOT supported.

  • Center tag
  • Forms
  • Tables
  • Font name or size
Note: GIF/JPEG can be embedded to the HTML file by using a complete URL path. The URL must be accessible at the time that the fax will be processed. This file type can be in the body of the message or in an attachment.

Using Application/Web to Fax

1) Gathering of the message content

The first step is to gather the content of the message. This step is very similar to the preparation to print a report. All the information must be available at the time the report is to be prepared.

2) Formatting of the Documents

In this step the raw information is transformed into one of the file formats supported by the Web to Fax system. This could be as simple as printing the information to a text file or as complex as creating an elaborate Postscript file.

3) Transforming the destination fax number into VisionLab's e-mail address form

The application must build an e-mail address out of the name of the receiver(name is optional), the destination fax number and the VisionLab mailserver name. The 2 acceptable formats are as follows:
<ReceiversName-OR-character_string>@<country_code><area_code><faxnumber>.tofax.biz   OR   <country_code><area_code><faxnumber>@tofax.biz

4) Sending the message

The method of sending the message is dependent on the e-mail services that are available with the operating system you are running. The e-mail message must be in SMTP format. Unix's sendmail and Windows NT's BLAT are common STMP e-mail clients. All e-mail clients have a mechanism to choose the destination e-mail address, to attach files and to set the text of the subject line.

There are some automated actions that will happen depending on the type of file and the position the file is placed in the e-mail message. The body of the message can only contain plain text or HTML. Plain text will be displayed on the cover page with header information extracted from the email. HTML will be printed without a cover page at all. All other File formats must be sent as attachments. We have several control switches that are placed at the end of the subject line that allow for greater customization of the message delivery. They include assigning tracing number to messages, controlling the number of dial attempts and page numbering. For more information, please see the section on control switches.

5) Notifications, Reports & Responding to them

Once the message has been processed and the fax has been sent an individual notification message can be sent to an e-mail address that you specify.

The notification can be sent for undelivered faxes or for both delivered and undelivered faxes. This message can be reviewed by someone or processed automatically by an application. The action you take with failed faxes depends on your needs. Resends of the fax could be done manually or could be automated. The notification has a standardized format so the information it contains can be extracted easily.

Here is a full sample of one style of the Positive Notification message:

Subject: E-Mail to Fax Transmission Report for tofax@+15143343389
Date: Thu, 25 Nov 2004 16:11:12 -0500 (EST)
From: Visionlab <notification@visionlab.ca>
Reply-To: support@visionlab.ca
To: customer@yourdomain.com 

            Visionlab Transmission Report
                E-Mail to Fax

Fax #          : tofax@+12121234578
Subject          :
Tracking Number      : NA
Submitted on      : 2004-11-25  at  16:06  EST
Last Attempted      : 2004-11-25  at  16:11  EST
Page(s)          : 2
Duration      : 1:19
Status          : OK 

Thank you for using the E-Mail to Fax Service 
                        Powered by tofax.biz

Here is the subject header of one style of the Negative Notification:

Subject: Notification for Fax@+15141234567 - Failed after 5 attempts [Re: Fax] from Visionlab

Positive and Negative notifications are primarily differentiated by the information that is provided in the Subject header of the notification message. This information can be used to filter incoming notifications in an automated fashion, especially if a course of action is required. You can also use a Tracing Reference) number for additional tracking.

Extra Reporting (additional charges may apply)

Negative notifications can be returned with the original file attached. This original file can be returned as a TIF-F attachment or as the original text file, which was submitted.

Notifications can also be accumulated, consolidated and sent as a summary report one or more times a day. The scheduled delivery time can be set up according to your requirements if you use this option.

Note: These reporting features and functions are set up by VisionLab directly. Please advise your customer service representative of your requirements if they have not been specified in the registration documents.

Remember that this is a partial presentation of the guide, see the controls for more information  about Application/Web to Fax.




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