Faxing from your computer is straightforward if you’re a single user; since all new Macs come with a lite version of Smith Micro’s FaxSTF software, you just add a fax modem and you’re in business. It would be impractical and wasteful to outfit an entire office with fax modems and individually dedicated phone lines, but until now the only Mac-based products for network faxing were outdated and unsupported. That’s why the U.S. debut of Glenwarne Limited’s FaxElite networked fax software is such a welcome development; with FaxElite, companies can easily and economically bring faxing to every user’s desktop.
FaxElite 5.0 includes client and server components. You must buy one server pack and then pick a client pack for as many users as you need. (The single-user version doesn’t require the server pack.) You choose one Mac with a fax modem to host the serveryou don’t have to dedicate it to the task. (The server Mac can also be a client.) We set up both the server and the clients quickly and easily, and sent our first test fax just minutes after installation.
The client software consists of the fax printer driver, which appears in the Chooser, and three applications: FaxStatus displays the server’s fax queue and lets you change and delete queued items; FaxViewer lets you view, print, and delete faxes; and FastFax lets you send quickie text faxes. FaxElite lacks OCR (optical character recognition) capability, but you can export received faxes as TIFFs, which any OCR product can read.
Installed on a 604e-based Umax clone that was also running AppleShare IP and other server software, FaxElite’s server software performed very well. Faxes spooled smoothly from the clients to the server, where they queued up for sending. Because FaxElite renders outgoing faxes on the server, all the fonts in the document must be in the server’s System Folder, or you’ll get unpredictable font substitution. An incoming fax triggers the server to notify the fax administrator, who checks the fax and forwards it to the correct recipient over the network. Alternatively, you can have the server automatically archive or print incoming faxes for distribution by sneakernet. Network faxing requires AppleTalk over Ethernet; Glenwarne says a future version will add TCP/IP networking.
FaxElite comes with plug-ins that allow automated faxing through several database programs, including FileMaker Pro. And FaxElite’s extensive AppleScript support makes it easy to create AppleScript droplets, onto which you drag and drop documents for delivery to the people you fax most often.
FaxElite 5.0’s fax dialog box exemplifies the program’s clean, uncluttered interface.
This is such a well-thought-out product that coming up against its shortcomings is a bit jarring. For example, you can’t annotate received faxes, there’s no Windows client, FaxElite won’t accept a phone calling card for billing, and the program logs outgoing faxes but not incoming ones. Most annoying is the lack of smart dialing, which drops the area code for local numbers in your fax phone book.