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A Fax Gateway for OfficePower


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This item was originally published on the OfficePower web site on
17th March 2000


0    Introduction

A number of OfficePower sites have used a "fax gateway" to permit the sending of faxes from OfficePower as mail messages. These gateways have usually been purpose built (and relatively expensive) peripherals connected directly to the UNIX server on which OfficePower runs. However, thanks to the mail enhancements introduced in the last few versions of OfficePower, an alternative approach is now available.

With the wide use of SMTP or "internet" mail systems, there are now a number of PC-based "fax gateways" commercially available. These products run on Windows systems, and use standard PC hardware and modems. The wider market for these systems, and their use of commodity hardware, can offer significant cost savings, and, in particular, a much cheaper entry point than the older products.

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1    Outline of operation

An SMTP-to-Fax gateway can be exploited by OfficePower users by using two standard features of OfficePower/Xtra Version 4 or later - the Internet (SMTP) Gateway and POP3 mail support. The basis on which the system functions is as follows:
1.1    An additional user, named for example "fax", is created on an OfficePower server. This user is registered for "POP3 access" and a mail filter is set up to store all mail received by this user in the POP3 mailbox.
1.2The OfficePower Internet Gateway is installed and configured on an OfficePower server. (This may have been done already by sites who use this gateway to exchange mail with the internet - however a physical connection to the internet is not required if the gateway is only to be used for sending and receiving faxes.)
1.3An additional (Windows NT) server is added to the network, and the fax gateway software installed thereon. The fax gateway is configured with details of the OfficePower POP3 account and mail gateway, and the users permitted to use the fax system. The fax gateway will then periodically "logon" to the POP3 account and regard any messages found there to be faxes for transmission.
1.4An OfficePower user can now send a fax by composing and sending an email, addressed to the user "fax" (see 1 above) - details such as the fax number and name of the addressee are included in a predefined format in the first line of the message. This message will be "collected" from the POP3 mailbox by the fax server, and transmitted via the fax modem.
1.5A confirmation is then generated by the fax server and sent as an email message, via the OfficePower Internet Mail Gateway (see 2 above) to the originating user.
1.6The fax gateway can also be configured, if required, to RECEIVE faxes, which will then be sent, as emails, via the OfficePower Internet Mail Gateway. (Various inwards routing options are offered by fax gateways - the simplest, and default, method is that all incoming faxes will be sent to a single nominated user, who will then view them and forward them to the intended recipient.)

This technique permits any (authorised) OfficePower user (using "green screen", OfficePower for Windows, or Web interfaces) to send faxes. If the option to receive faxes is also used, they will appear as a mail message with a TIFF (graphic) copy of the fax attached, which can only be viewed by PC users.

Note that the OfficePower POP3 account and Internet Mail Gateway can be, but are not required to be, on the same OfficePower server.

The scale of the (Windows NT) server required (see 3 above) will depend on the total fax traffic expected, including the number of fax lines to be supported. However, a system to support one or two fax lines requires only a typical "entry level" PC in this role. This server need not be dedicated to use as a fax server - if you have an existing Windows NT server on your network to which you could connect the fax modem(s), this can be used as the fax gateway.

Teamware Group in Bracknell have carried out a feasibility study to prove the use of this technique with a selected "fax server" software product, FAXmaker for Networks/SMTP 7.0 by GFI Fax and Voice Ltd. The remainder of this paper describes the implementation of this particular system.

Note that only the steps necessary to use FAXmaker as a fax gateway to OfficePower are covered - the product has many other features, including the ability to send and receive faxes using its own PC client, which will not be described here. More details of FAXmaker for Networks/SMTP can be obtained from the GFI web site at - you can also download a free version of FAXmaker (5 users, one fax line) from this site.

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2    Creating the OfficePower "fax" user

Since you need to configure the fax server with some details of the OfficePower parts of the system, it makes sense to set up the latter before installing the fax gateway.
2.1    Create a new OfficePower user, with username (for example) "fax". Use a simple Shortname such as "Fax", and pick any convenient (but meaningful) First and Last names.
2.2Register the user for mail (use the RGST MAIL softkey in adm.upd-user)
2.3Register the user for POP3 mail (use the RGST POP3 softkey in adm.upd-user)
2.4Login as user "fax" and use mail.filters to create a filter as follows:
    Mail item type:    message
Discard the mail item:*
This filter is active:*
Also complete the Description and Notes field as desired.

Now press the MATCH softkey, and enter .. (two full stops) in the "Match Anywhere" field.

(This filter will intercept all mail addressed to the user "fax" and store it in the POP3 mailbox, but not in the "standard" mailbox. You can develop this filter further if you wish to be selective about what messages are sent on to the fax gateway.)

When registering the user for mail at 2.2 above, you need to take a decision on whether or not to add the details of this user to the public distribution lists. If all OfficePower users are to be allowed to send fax by this gateway, it is clearly convenient to have the "fax" address in the public distribution lists.

However, if some users are not allowed to send faxes (and hence are not configured as users in FAXmaker (see section 4.4), sending messages to the "fax" user will only generate error messages. In such cases, its better NOT to add the "fax" user to the public distribution list, but instead send a distribution list entry to each "permitted" user for them to add to their personal distribution lists.

This completes setup of the "fax" user. Note the name of the OfficePower server, the username of the "fax" user, and the password for this user for later configuration of the fax server.

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3    Installing the OfficePower SMTP gateway

Installation of the Internet Mail Gateway is covered in its own documentation, and there are no steps required specifically by the fax gateway. You need to know the name of the server on which the Internet Mail gateway is installed for later configuration of the fax server.

At this point, you can, if you wish, test the setup of the OfficePower components using Outlook Express or a similar POP3 mail client.
3.1    Configure an account on the mail client, specifying the server name, username and password noted in section 2 above as the "POP3 server" details, and the name of the server supporting the OfficePower Internet mail gateway as the "SMTP Server".
3.2Using any OfficePower user EXCEPT "fax", send an email message addressed to the "fax" user.
3.3Start the mail client, "receive all mail" and check that the message sent in 3.2 is received OK. This verifies the POP3 setup. Now reply to the message.
3.4Using the same user as in 3.2, check that the reply is received OK. This verifies the SMTP setup.

Once you have carried out this check, it is advisable to delete the account details from the mail client used. Once the system is "live", nobody but the fax server should "logon" to the POP3 account for the user "fax".

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4    Installing and configuring the fax server

4.1    Install the PC and Windows operating system.

For the trial, we used a dedicated PC for FAXmaker, but of low specification - 486, 500 Mbyte disc, one MultiTech MultiModem MT1932ZDX - running Windows NT 4 Server.

(GFI recommend a minimum configuration of 133 Mhz 486 and 32 MB memory - our machine was below this specification, but still worked well. FAXmaker needs about 20 MB of free disk space for installation, but you'll need additional space, say at least 100 MB, to hold faxes when the system is in use. The FAXmaker documentation includes a list of modem types supported/recommended by GFI. Windows NT Server is required to use the full features of FAXmaker, though limited support is available on NT Workstation, and even Windows 95/98 - only NT Server was tested in our trial.)

Ensure that RAS, or other services that would attempt to use the fax modem, are NOT installed.

FAXmaker will support fax attachments in RTF format by default. If you wish to send, additionally, Microsoft Office attachments, you must also install a copy of Microsoft Office on the fax server. (This feature was not tested in our trial).

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4.2    Install FAXmaker.

If using the downloaded version, unzip the installation files to a folder on hard disc, then run setup.exe from this folder - if using a CD-ROM version, run setup.exe from the CD.

(Note that you need a FAXmaker user licence for each OfficePower user who will send or receive faxes - so the free version of FaxMaker will limit you to five such users.)

  • When prompted, enter your company name, fax number, and serial number for the product. (The "fax number" may not be the phone number of the fax modem to be used by FAXmaker. It will appear printed on outgoing faxes, and therefore should be a number you want EXTERNAL users to use for sending faxes to you - if you do not intend to use FAXmaker for RECEIVING faxes, enter here the number of your existing fax machine.)

  • When asked "Do you have an SMTP mail server?", answer YES.

  • Choose the folder in which you want FAXmaker installed - accept the default unless you need to change it.

FAXmaker will now be installed - click "Finish" when prompted. A new group "FAXmaker for Networks-SMTP" will appear on the Start menu.

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4.3    Configure FAXmaker Server.

From the FAXmaker group on the Start menu, select FAX Server Configuration, and complete information on the various tabs as shown:

  • Dialling tab - Enter your country code (44 for the UK) and "area code" (STD code - e.g. 01344) in the Where am I? group. If you want to send faxes using international phone number formats (starting with a +) set the entries in the International Dialling group. The National Dialling group is designed for the US and isn't normally needed in the UK.

  • Document Converters tab - Complete this tab if you have installed Microsoft Office on the fax server, otherwise no entries are required here.

  • Header/Footer tab - Enter the text you wish to appear at the top and bottom of each fax page, plus the font to be used - or just accept the defaults. (Note that you can't change the preset footer if you're using the free version of FAXmaker.)

  • Coverpages tab - Select the default cover pages. Use one of the standard coverpages initially - you can compose your own coverpages later, though this is outside the scope of this document. You can also select different coverpages for individual users - see User Configuration below.

  • General tab - set options for printing faxes as required, or just accept the defaults.

  • Lines tab - Tick the checkbox against the modem(s) you want to use. (The modems should have been "autodetected" - if no modems are shown on this tab, click the Detect button.) Now select the modem and click the Properties button.

In the Properties dialogue, complete further tabs as follows:

  • Device tab - Set the Line Options, Modem Options and Speaker Mode as desired - the default values should be OK.

  • Fax Line tab - In the Send outgoing faxes group, enter the Dial Prefix - e.g. enter "9" if you have to dial 9 to get an outside line - and other values as required by your phone line. If you want to RECEIVE as well as SEND faxes via FAXmaker, check the Receive incoming faxes box.

  • Autoprint, Routing and Archive tabs - leave the default settings on these tabs, at least initially.

Now click OK to exit from the Properties dialogue, then OK to exit from Server Configuration.

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4.4    Configure FAXmaker Users.

You must define each of the (OfficePower) users who are to send (or receive) faxes.

From the FAXmaker group on the Start menu, select FAXmaker User Configuration.

Click the Users button and select Add, then enter a user name, full name, and email address. The email address must be the internet format of the full X.400 address that will be supplied by OfficePower's POP3 support, for example:

/C=GB/ADMD=gold_400/PRMD=icl/O=icl/OU=bra0130/S=Sewell/ I=IC/

Having created a user as above, select the user name in the left hand pane, and use the 8 tabs in the right hand pane to enter additional details:

  • General tab - If the user is to have a personal header line (instead of the default header defined in Server Configuration) enter it here. If you want to use FAXmaker to receive faxes as well as send them, at least one user must have the Receive all incoming faxes option set on this tab.

  • Reports tab - In the outgoing faxes group, select the information that will be emailed back to the user after sending a fax - it is probably best to set all four options initially and get selective later. The incoming faxes group is not relevant unless you purchase the FAXmaker OCR routing option, which is outside the scope of this document.

  • Routing and OCR Routing tabs - Only relevant if you wish to selectively route incoming messages, which is outside the scope of this document.

  • Call Blocking tab - Permits blocking of certain fax numbers at the user level, which is outside the scope of this document.

  • Personal tab - Lets you define information that will be inserted into the cover page of outgoing faxes, such as name, company name, fax number etc. Default values for most of the fields will be set using information already specified when you installed the system, so you can leave this tab alone initially.

  • Coverpages tab - Select the coverpages this user is permitted to use, and their default coverpage if different from the system default defined in 4.3 above - so leave this tab alone initially too.

  • Advanced tab: Check the SMTP option. Clear the Networks option, unless you wish this user to use the FAXmaker PC client as well as the mail gateway. (Note: if you leave the Networks option set, but the user never uses the client, the server will gradually fill up with fax confirmations held in a "mailbox".) Check the remote administration option only for administrators - outside the scope of this document, better left OFF for everybody initially.

Now repeat the above steps for further users.

Click the Setup button and select Check Configuration option to check the user details you have entered.

You also use FAXmaker User Configuration to carry out steps 4.5 and 4.6 below.

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4.5    Configure the FAXmaker MTA

Click the Setup button in FAXmaker User Configuration and select MTA Configuration. This dialogue will let you select the frequency with which Faxmaker checks for outgoing faxes or forwards incoming faxes. Leave both options set to the default 2 minutes initially.

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4.6    Configure the FAXmaker SMTP/Fax gateway

Click the Setup button in FAXmaker User Configuration and select E-Mail2Fax Gateway configuration.

Ensure the Enable SMTP message transfer agent entry is checked.

In the SMTP settings (upload) group, enter the name or IPA address, and port number of the OfficePower server with the internet mail gateway - e.g.:
    SMTP Server:    EXPO400
Port number:25

In the POP3 settings (download) group, enter the details of the OfficePower server and user with the POP3 account for outgoing faxes - e.g.:
    POP3 Server:    Triffid
Mailbox account:fax (OP user name)
Mailbox passwordpassword (OP password for this user)
Login method (radio button):PASS

In the Fax server (sender) email address enter an email address that will appear in messages sent from FAXmaker (incoming faxes and confirmations of outgoing faxes) - this should be the (internet form of the) mail address of the OfficePower "fax" user created in section 2, e.g.

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4.7    Start the Fax Server and MTA

These two services will normally be started when you reboot the fax server. For initial testing after completing the configuration steps above, start them using the Fax Server and FAXmaker MTA entries in the FAXmaker group on the Start menu.

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5    Sending a fax

To send a fax, from one of the OfficePower users whose names have been configured into FAXmaker, do this:
5.1    Create an email message addressed to the "fax" user created in section 3 above. (If you chose NOT to add this user to the public distribution list, you'll need to create, or be sent, a distribution list entry to add to your personal distribution lists.)
5.2Enter the fax number and the name of the addressee on the FIRST line of the message text, preceded by two colons - the format is:
e.g. ::Iain,Teamware Group,Sewell,01344472474
or ::Iain Sewell,Teamware Group,01344472474
to send a fax to "Iain Sewell" of "Teamware Group" by a call to Bracknell 472474.

Alternatively, you can just specify a fax number, thus:
e.g. ::01344472474

The Name (or Firstname + Surname) and Company details you enter (if any) will be inserted in the appropriate fields of the coverpage of the outgoing fax. The sender's name and company will also be completed in this coverpage, using the details entered for the appropriate user in the Personal tab in section 4.4 above.

5.3Anything you type in the subject field, or in the second to sixth lines of the message area, will appear on the fax cover sheet. You MUST limit the message area to six lines by 60 characters - if you use OP4W Workspace to send the message, you'll have to enforce these limits yourself.
5.4Additional text can be sent as an attachment, which MUST be in RTF format. So if you want to send an existing OP-Word document, convert it to RTF before attaching it.

If you're using OP4W Workspace to create the mail message, select the OP-Word document, right-click and select Save As followed by Rich Text Format V1, and specify a name for the converted file. Then attach the converted file to the mail message.

If you're using the "green screen" interface (including OP4W Terminal) convert the document using folder.update before attaching it to the message.

If you try to send OP-Word documents, text files, MS-Word (unless you've installed Microsoft Office on the fax server - see the Document Converters tab in section 4.3) etc., you'll end up sending just a cover sheet.

5.5After the fax has been sent successfully (or has failed), FAXmaker will generate an acknowledgement (or error report) which will be sent to you by email. With the default options set in the Reports tab for this user - see 4.4 above - the message will have as an attachment a copy of the fax sent out, in TIFF format. Provided you view this acknowledgement on a PC using OP4W, or Web access, clicking on the attachment will let you view the fax, using the TIFF viewer (such as the Wang Imaging software installed with recent versions of Windows) configured on your PC.

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6    Receiving a fax

If you selected the option Receive incoming faxes on the "Fax Line" tab in 4.3 above, and configure one user to Receive all incoming faxes in section 4.4, incoming faxes are handled like this:
6.1     FAXmaker will auto-answer incoming calls and send received faxes to the nominated user, as TIFF attachments to an email message (identified as From "FAXmaker") which can be viewed as in 5.5 above.
6.2The nominated user should identify from the cover sheet of the fax the name of the intended recipient, and forward the email message to that user.

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7    Troubleshooting

A number of log files are available to investigate any problems encountered when initially setting up the interface between OfficePower and FAXmaker, or during subsequent use of the system. FAXmaker also includes additional diagnostic tools to investigate problems with the interface between FAXmaker and the fax modem - these are outside the scope of this document.

The key log files are:
7.1     OfficePower's Mail Filter Log. This is accessed using the mail.flog function on OfficePower's menu system. The log for the OfficePower "fax" user will verify that outgoing faxes have been transferred to the POP3 mailbox for collection by FAXmaker Server.
7.2FAXmaker's Send Log. This is a text file (actually in CSV format) sendlog.txt in the FAXmaker folder on the fax server. It can be accessed using the View / View Logs menu entry in FAXmaker's Fax Server Monitor program, or using the separate LogView utility available from GFI's web site.

The send log will contain a record for every outgoing fax, with "SUCCESS" or "FAILURE" indicated against each one. In the case of a failure, the "Info" field will give a reason, such as "No answer from remote machine".

If an outgoing fax is rejected for any reason by FAXmaker Server, and hence transmission is never even attempted, it will not appear in the send log. Instead, FAXmaker will (attempt to) send an error report to the originator - if this attempt fails, an entry will appear in the MTA log (see 7.4 below).

7.3FAXmaker's Receive Log. Like the send log, this is a text file rcvlog.txt and can be accessed using the View / View Logs menu entry in FAXmaker's Fax Server Monitor program.

The receive log gives details of incoming faxes, if you selected the option Receive incoming faxes - see section 6 above.

7.4FAXmaker's MTA log. This is again a text file ltmta.txt in the FAXmaker folder on the fax server, but no special tools are provided for viewing this log - use Notepad, Wordpad or another text editor or viewer.

The MTA log contains details of any errors encountered when FAXmaker attempts to exchange email with OfficePower. This covers attempts to logon to the POP3 mailbox to receive outgoing faxes, and attempts to send incoming faxes, confirmations of outgoing faxes, or error reports to OfficePower.

Errors on outgoing mail will be reported as Error logging in to POP3 server followed by explanatory text such as Host is unreachable or Host has no DNS entry. Transient errors of this format may indicate some temporary network failure, or that the OfficePower server is temporarily unavailable during a reboot, for example.

Errors on mail TO OfficePower will have similar explanatory text included. One particular error which can be diagnosed from such entries in the MTA log relates to attempts by OfficePower users who have not been configured in FAXmaker to send faxes - or such an attempt by a user who has been registered, but whose email address has been incorrectly entered. In these circumstances, FAXmaker will reject the outgoing fax because the user's email address cannot be found in the User Configuration, and will attempt to send an error message back to the user. However, the MTA will then be unable to send this error message, because it can't find the user's address in the User Configuration!

The symptoms of such an error will be a repeated sequence of error messages in the MTA log of the format: Unable to load recipient from user database: eml addr: followed by the mail address of the user in the format shown in section 4.4 above. If, after investigation, you determine that the user's email address has been incorrectly entered (in step 4.4), you can run FAXmaker User Configuration again and cut-and-paste the correct address from the MTA log file to the user configuration. On the next attempt to send the outstanding error message, it will, at last, be delivered to the user. The error message will tell the user (s)he is not registered as a FAXmaker user - you'll need to explain that this means they weren't registered, but are now!

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