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FaxFacts fax software

Copia Does Fax Broadcasting better than anyone else.

To say that we do Fax Broadcasting better than anyone else is a large boast. Then let me see if I can cover how Copia has been inventive in solving the faxing problems that you can think of now and the many other problems that you have not yet thought of. The Copia FaxFacts product is about "no limits" faxing.

Copia's History in Fax

Copia was the first company to provide a Fax-On-Demand system as a software product. Copia released FaxFacts in November 1989 at COMDEX in Las Vegas NV. Copia FaxFacts systems have been in continuous operation since 1990.

Copia was the inventor of the same call Fax-On-Demand system, and was granted a US patent for this invention. In 1990 the fax and voice boards handled only a single line and we had to develop a system that could share the load across multiple CPU's.

The early design decision enabled the fax load to be shared. This early design has paid off for our fax broadcast systems, by allowing very large systems to be installed.

Some of the questions you need to ask yourself in planning your broadcast sytem are:

*** Is it scalable? ***
Can additional CPUs be added to deliver faxes and can additional CPUs be added to help with the rasterization process, in features such as mailmerge.

As we continued to work on the Fax-On-Demand system, we decided to hand-off "faxback" requests into a general queue. This queue was then processed by all the CPUs acting as "fax servers". The queue is NOT a file, but a directory that we call "TOSEND". One of the most important design specifications of the FaxFacts system was to be an "open" system. When you create a queue that is a file with records in the queue file, you now have to provide an API to allow outside programs to send faxes. Each programming language needs its own API.

Copia reviewed the work that was done by GammaLink on their Gammafax product line. Copia supports the entire Dialogic/Gammafax productline along with Brooktrout, and others. Terry Flanagan decided early on to store the information needed to send fax in a normal ASCII file. Using a file to store all the information that would normally go into a "queue record" has many pluses and some negatives. With an ASCII file per queue request, we have the ability to write a request to send a fax from any programming languages. The essence of the FaxFacts API is the following information written into a file:

$fax_phone 630-778-8848
$fax_filename mytiff.tif

The above file is written to the tosend folder and given a unique file name. The FaxFacts Engine controls the broadcast process in each CPU that has fax boards in that CPU. The FaxFacts Engine looks for files that are not claimed in the TOSEND folder. When the Engine finds a file in the TOSEND folder that is unclaimed it starts to send the file named in the file to the phone number specified. When the fax is sent the file is then moved from the TOSEND folder and placed into the SENT or FAIL folders. This has the advantage of the TOSEND folder constantly being emptied by the Engine. The The file stores additional information such as the failure code or the CSID of the receiving fax machine. This additional information can grow without the limits of field size that a queue record would impose.

The design of our file-based queue also removed the need to have to pack, compress, or run maintenance programs on the faxing system.

*** The system duty cycle should be 7 by 24 ***
This means that the system should not have files that grow and then need to have programs run to "clean-up","remove gas","pack deleted", or "make faster". Some systems can not be run for days, week, or years with out having a person adjust something. Copia has designed FaxFacts to run for years without any "operator intervention"

Why Three kinds of fax broadcasting?
With FaxFacts, a broadcast can be one of three (3) ways. When you send the same image to a list or group of people, we call that a fax blast or simple fax broadcast. If you want to increase the reader attention to the fax, you can do a Graphical Coversheet broadcast. With the Graphical Coversheet broadcast you can place database field anywhere on an image template (we call this a watermark). The result is a fax that is sent with the basic message and the variable information from your database overlaid onto the watermark. Each field can be positioned size, font and angle can all be setup using the visual fax viewer to design the final fax. If you need even more power you can do a Mailmerge to fax using the FaxFacts FFMERGE system. The Mailmerge system is unique to Copia in the way that we have approached the problem, more later about FFMERGE.

Fax Blasting
While FaxFacts is a great Fax Blaster for people that have just two phone lines, we are much better than the others when it comes to larger numbers of faxes to send. Earlier I said that FaxFacts is the "no limits" faxing systems. What that means is that when you want to Blast Fax to 1,000, 10,000 or virtually unlimited number of recipients.

*** When Blasting is there only one copy of the fax? ***
Many systems have to have a separate image for each person that is going to receive a fax. This causes the system to have to create, move and/or use more disk space for each fax receiver. With FaxFacts each receiver gets a small file that contains the name of the fax image to be sent. This saves time and space on the disk. Using the FaxFacts Fax Blaster we can launch 100-150 faxes per second.

This means that you can launch 9000 fax blasting requests per minute! This does not mean that you are sending 9000 faxes per minute, but that you have queued 9000 fax requests. The launch speed only becomes a problem if you can not launch faxes as fast as you can send them. How many lines would I need to have sending faxes to keep up with 9000 faxes per min? If you figure 45 to 60 fax pages per hour. You would have to have about 9000 phone lines to keep up with the launcher.
With "no limits" faxing, when you launch a blast fax you are not limited by the file system as to how many faxes can be launched. When you launch a blast fax under FaxFacts the only limit that can be reached is when the "file server" is out of disk space.

Graphical Coversheet Broadcast

The next type of broadcast faxing is what we at Copia call Graphical Coversheet broadcast. This type of blast fax is designed to increase the readership of direct mail via fax. This is also called "junk fax". It is only a "junk fax" if you are not interested in the information in the fax.

People will read a fax that has their name on the fax. I think that most of you have seen a direct mailing that had your name in the body of the sales pitch. This same effect can be done with Copia's Graphical Coversheet blast fax. We have had good luck placing the name of the person we wish to read the fax on a 25-degree angle in a script font. It says Steve, I thought you would be interested in this info. This makes it look like some friend of mine saw the information, wrote a note on it and faxed it to me. The chances of me reading the fax are much greater when my name is written on the fax.

There is a story on how the Graphical Coversheet product came to life. In the Fax-On-Demand market one of our competitors had the ability to construct a fax from data and images. This required programmer like coding and was not visual. We needed to meet that requirement, and we also wanted to improve the "look" of the coversheets that were produced by the system.

The original coversheets available in most faxing systems, had a logo followed by the ASCII font provided by the fax board supplier. This font was UGLY. It also could not be compressed or any of the other format options that users had become used to using in Windows. The Graphical Coversheet program was a process that ran before the fax was sent and the ASCII information as far as date, time, sender, and memo information was overlaid onto a watermark logo sheet.

The Graphical Coversheet monitor ran on the server and produced a temporary work file that included the watermark plus the variable information to produce a pretty coversheet. After the Graphic Coversheet system was working, our customers asked if we could do a blast fax that used the graphical coversheet to increase the readership of fax blasts. We said sure and we were well into "direct mail via fax"

We have since added many features to the formatting capabilities of the Graphical Coversheet system. We have customers that are actually Using the system as a forms processing system. This is easy because you have the ability to position any field on the watermark image to within a 200th of an inch. Customers are using this to fax back forms, invoices, and email to the closest fax machine.

Graphical Cover
[Graphical Coversheet]

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