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SCOUG was there!

Copyright 1998-2024, Southern California OS/2 User Group. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

SCOUG, Warp Expo West, and Warpfest are trademarks of the Southern California OS/2 User Group. OS/2, Workplace Shell, and IBM are registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation. All other trademarks remain the property of their respective owners.

The Southern California OS/2 User Group

SCOUG OS/2 For You - May 1997

New FaxWorks Pro Version Has Lots to Offer

reviewed by Mark Abramowitz,
written by Peter Skye

YORBA LINDA -- "Ready," I say as I touch my finger lightly to my watch's Start Timer button. "Set," and Mark wiggles his fingers expectantly as if he were preparing for a pie eating contest. "Go!"

Mark Abramowitz and I are installing the new version of FaxWorks Pro. He's doing the installation on his computer while I write down what happens and prepare this review. He thinks he got the easier job; I think I did. What a team. Mark rips off the shrink wrap, half shakes the box open, and whips the installation CD-ROM out of its protective sleeve. The disk flies into the CD-ROM slot and Mark starts squeaking the mouse.

"I'm not going to read the instructions," Mark says as all manner of things start happening on the screen. "I'm just going to install over my older FaxWorks Pro installation and see what happens. I didn't even make a backup, so this better work!"

Yes, Mark, but the brave die young.

There are five subdirectories on the FaxWorks Pro CD. Mark quickly searches through them and spots README.DOC hidden in the \OS2 subdirectory. "I would have missed it," says Mark. "It belongs in the root directory where you'll immediately see it." He decides it might be wise to take a peek. Good idea; those who are brave and wise usually outlive those who are only brave.

Always Read The ReadMe

The README lists the improvements in this new version. One point mentioned but which is more detailed on their web site (try is support for the USRobotics 1171 internal and 1172 external modems, which have some firmware bugs. FaxWorks Pro 3.01 (free upgrade for 3.0 users) has workarounds for these.

Mark's read of the README shows nothing to worry about, and he proceeds with the install. "I'm using a Practical Peripherals modem," continues Mark. He starts the install by running INSTALL.EXE, it apparently finds his previous FaxWorks version with no problem, and takes off doing whatever install programs do. Mark goes back to the README file and I peruse the box cover.

The box is more readable than a README and points out the new features, including a customizable toolbar, OCR (Optical Character Recognition -- FaxWorks uses the Calera engine), drag and drop features galore (you name it, I think they've got it), a LAN version that can handle up to 96 phone lines, and a 40% speed increase in image handling. And of course, you still have unlimited phonebooks with import from CSV format, broadcast faxing (so you can send one fax document to everyone on a list of phone numbers), scheduled faxing (set a time, such as after midnight for cheapest rates), and immediate and automatic printing of incoming faxes if you desire.

"It now can move your Internet e-mail fax documents into a fax folder," interrupts Mark. "And it has serial mode sharing and a lot of new drawing tools like line, arrow, box, ellipse and check. And it now has Caller I.D. so you can capture and save the numbers of the people who call you." Mark is intrigued with the contents of the README file, while I prefer to remain ignorant and am more interested in his Oreo cookie box, which he has left unguarded.

Someday, if the software manufacturers get smart, they'll also include a README.HTM file which you can look at with Netscape. README.HTM would look as good as the rest of the 'net, would even look as good as the box, while README.TXT looks like an old CompuServe screen.

It's For You

Who might want FaxWorks? Well, for example, if you want to set up a sophisticated Fax-On-Demand or Fax-Back system (one sends a fax to the fax machine you're calling from, the other sends a fax to a telephone number which you specify), FaxWorks Pro is for you. If you want to drag images from other files onto documents you're creating, size those images and even edit and rotate them before faxing them out, FaxWorks is for you. If you want to have OCR for converting faxes into text documents, this is the product. If you want voice mail and voice mail boxes and your modem has a Rockwell chip or you're using a Brooktrout board (the imminent version 3.01, free upgrade from 3.0, will support more), that's included too.

The installation takes exactly two minutes and 55 seconds, but then you have to reboot and Mark's got quite a lot of stuff that needs to start up. His reboot takes five minutes and 40 seconds, and I sneak two more cookies out of his Oreo box. I ask Mark why his reboot takes so long; he responds that he's got a lot of extra CONFIG.SYS drivers and because he keeps a lot of apps open for immediate use.

FaxWorks Pro is actually a product called PMFax, and PMFax is written by Keller Group in frostbitten White Bear Lake, Minnesota. Keller Group owns the trademark on PMFax, sells the program directly, and also licenses the program to others to sell as they please. So, for example, you have Corporate PMFax being sold by NiteHawk Enterprises, and you have FaxWorks Pro for OS/2 sold by Global Village Communication. They're all the same program. Global has the trademark on the name FaxWorks Pro, and got the product in a roundabout way by buying SofNet, which was the previous licensee for PMFax. Confused? It just means that everybody wants the program.

Smart Program

The reboot completes and now it's time to take a look. Mark starts up FaxWorks. The first time you run FaxWorks after installing over a previous version, the configuration is automatically displayed so you can verify them or change the selections. Mark does this and the program then comes up. There are new commands -- you can now modify and edit cover sheets and you can print the fax log. You now have a selection of fax cover sheets and a "voice page" option to call your pager if you receive a voice message. Pretty snazzy. There are a number of new options across the top of the screen.

Mark begins to play. The phonebook now has searching and is now printable. Mark was unsure about how to use the Internet email support, and that makes me wonder about their customer support. Global Village is shifting all of their online support off of CompuServe and onto the Internet. This doesn't mean less support, it just means that most OS/2 users now spend their online time on the 'net instead of on CompuServe where they used to hang out. I use both, and so does Mark. We move on.

Edit has the same look and feel as in the previous version but it has more options. Mark feels it is still a little awkward to use in spots, but much improved from the previous version. You can now invert colors. The marking tools work from a right mouse button click.

After 10 minutes I ask Mark for his first impression. His response: "Noticeably more powerful." Mark's delighted with the changes. One big plus: in this version, when you have the fax in receive mode so the modem is doing nothing but waiting for an incoming call, you can use the modem for something else (such as for Internet access or a quick sign-on to CompuServe). The previous FaxWorks kept the modem to itself when you told it to wait for an incoming fax, so you had to turn FaxWorks Receive Mode off, then use the modem, then turn Receive Mode back on again. This new version is smarter, and we're both impressed.

Mark points out one more thing. The icons in the Lite version which comes on the Warp BonusPak are pink, while the FaxWorks Pro icons are blue. "Sexist!", he snorts. "The wimpy pink version gets the girl colors, while the robust version gets those for a boy!"

"And, Hey!" says Mark, who has just sat back to relax after all this excitement and has reached for his Oreo box. "Who ate all the cookies?"

Just The Fax, Man

After the installation, Mark and I agreed that he should use the new program for a few days to get a good feel for it, to see what new features are his favorites, and to uncover any bugs. During this time I called the President of Keller Group, Mark Ahlstrom, to ask what their future plans were for OS/2. During the few minutes he and I spoke, I took an immediate liking to the guy. He's definitely dedicated to OS/2, has plans for even further improvements to FaxWorks, and is considering a Java version as well. He and I spoke of FaxWorks' potential, and he pointed out that it's common for larger customers to have FaxWorks handling 24 telephone lines at a time. Some, he said, even run a T1 (1.544 mbps) phone line "straight into the OS/2 box" where FaxWorks handles the calls. I asked about using Pen For OS/2 when editing faxes and he assured me that this could be done, although there's no special support in FaxWorks for it so you only get the basic Pen For OS/2 functions.

I also called Global Village Communication, the company that licenses the program from Keller and renames it as FaxWorks Pro, to see what kind of a response I'd get. I figured I'd call their sales department first to ask about the product and then their tech support number to see how knowledgeable they were, but the sales line kept me on hold for 20 minutes and the sales rep that finally answered was nice but unfamiliar with the product and made some very incorrect statements about it. My allotted time for this now gone, I didn't call their tech support line.

The Time, It Is A'Changin

So spin your calendar ahead several weeks, because Mark Abramowitz is now thoroughly familiar with the new FaxWorks Pro for OS/2 version 3.0 and he's willing to talk about it.

"I hid the Oreos," says Mark.

Besides the cookie box, Mark does have a gripe with Global's upgrade pricing. Upgrade pricing for FaxWorks Pro is the same whether you are a Warp user upgrading from any BonusPak Lite version or whether you've already purchased an upgrade to the Pro version in the past. That is, FaxWorks Pro 2.0 users pay the same as FaxWorks Lite users. Mark says that his annoyance with that pricing policy kept him from upgrading earlier. Other FaxWorks users have expressed the same sentiment.

Impressions Of The Third Kind

Now then, back to business. Mark is impressed with a lot in the new FaxWorks Pro. The program itself is divided into two sections - the main application and a special printer driver. The main applications allows you to create, review and edit fax documents. It also provides the vehicle for things like voice mail, fax redirection, a fully documented REXX API, E-mail and pager integration, caller ID, fax-back, fax-on-demand and a whole host of other comprehensive features. The REXX integration allows the user to write or use a pre-designed REXX script that tells FaxWorks what you want it to do when, and how. This feature allows for as much power as you can imagine, limited only by your ability to write a REXX program of obtain a script.

The voice support, if you have the hardware that supports it (Mark didn't), is also very powerful, allowing remote access. And the E-mail integration is also full-featured, allowing E-mailing of received faxes, and vice versa. This feature works with a number of OS/2 E-mail packages, including Post Road Mailer, PMMail, and MR/2 ICE. The documentation on this feature is not very complete, but a visit to the home page of Keller or Global Village should fix that problem.

The special SOM-enabled printer driver directly converts input from OS/2, DOS, and Windows applications into faxes. It supports imbedded commands for things like automatic sending (or a pop-up box will appear for sending instructions). Like most things in FaxWorks Pro, it also supports drag and drop, allowing drag and drop of fax and text files for sending, as well as data files from applications that support drag and drop to a printer driver. Mark was easily able to drag and drop a DeScribe document without opening DeScribe.

Unlike me, Mark carefully reads manuals, and he found a number of features that are supported under OS/2 but not in the FaxWorks for Windows version (such as all the new drag and drop features). The manual clearly designates these with an "OS/2 Only" notation, so you'll be pleased to see what your Windows neighbor can't do but you can.

Mark, you see, isn't just an elected member of the SCOUG Board of Directors. He began using FaxWorks Pro for OS/2 way back with version 1.0 (it was then called PM Fax), and was a beta tester for version 2.0. He got to discover all the enhancements in that version, and now he's discovered all the new enhancements in 3.0. His final comments are quite precise. "This is clearly a winner application," Mark says. "Especially for users of the 'light' version that comes with Warp 4, this is definitely worth the upgrade. I especially like the new custom and modifiable cover sheets that now support automatic data insertion, so the cover sheet fields are filled in automatically. The editing tools are easier to use and there are more of them, so you can edit and mark up a received fax. The 'Intelligent Retry' feature remembers how many pages have been successfully received at the far end and will pick up at the page it left off at if the line is lost in the middle of a transmission. It can use any COM driver, including SIO. There are significant drag and drop improvements, including image sizing and tweaking. And the integrated Calera OCR engine, while seemingly a bit long in the tooth and finicky like most OCR applications, converts faxes to text.

Mark is pretty excited about the new FaxWorks Pro, which is why we ended up jointly doing this review. We both wanted to be the first to get our hands on it. Both of us think it's well worth the money.

Speaking of money, the full FaxWorks Pro for OS/2 3.0 package is $129 and the upgrade is $69. The usual sources carry it at a discount -- Indelible Blue, J3 Computer Technologies and Office Solutions.

And besides, I think I may have a solution to Mark's concern about the upgrade pricing. If you happen to already have the previous 2.0 version installed on your machine, FaxWorks could print out a coupon for a free box of Oreos.

If you are interested...

Global Village Communication, Inc., 1144 East Arques Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94086, 800/736-4821 sales, 800/890-4562 fax on demand, 800/607-4562 customer support fax, 408/523-1000 voice, 408/523-1040 PC tech support,,,,, 770/984-9926 BBS

Indelible Blue, 800/776-8284 (eastern time - North Carolina), J3 Computer Technologies, 8851 Central Avenue #G-316, Montclair, Calif. 91763, 800/787-0930, 909/985-6786, 909/981-5423 fax,,

Keller Group, Mark Ahlstrom, President, 4756 Banning Avenue, Suite 214, White Bear Lake, MN 55110, 612/429-7273, 612/653-1987 fax,,

Office Solutions, 404 North Termino Avenue, Long Beach, Calif. 90814, 800/897-2777, 310/439-5567, 310/438-7888,

The Southern California OS/2 User Group
P.O. Box 26904
Santa Ana, CA 92799-6904, USA

Copyright 1997 the Southern California OS/2 User Group. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

SCOUG is a trademark of the Southern California OS/2 User Group.
OS/2, Workplace Shell, and IBM are registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation.
All other trademarks remain the property of their respective owners.