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Why Your Business Needs A Programmable Fax API

When choosing the right fax service for your business, the ability to implement a robust API is more than just another feature.

IT departments and developers can use the API to extend faxing software's capabilities beyond just a separate online faxing program. Using APIs, in-house software becomes more powerful and robust, and employees are able to perform much more efficiently.


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What is a fax API?


API is an acronym for application programming interface. This interface enables computers, software, or applications to exchange information. APIs are the means by which one piece of software can tap into the functionality of another application.

Another way to look at APIs is as a bridge that allows for communications between two different programs. For example, when implementing a cloud-based fax program into a customer relationship management system such as Salesforce, the process utilizes APIs that allow the cloud fax program to operate directly from the CRM program.

Fax APIs allow IT personnel to integrate cloud faxing capabilities into in-house software programs, such as electronic medical records (EMR), CRM, and ERP systems. Thus, users never need to exit the program in order to send or receive faxes. By integrating the programs, the efficiency and power of the programs is enhanced.

For instance, instead of printing a patient's referral to fax to another medical provider's office or to an insurance company, the user of the EMR can fax the form directly from the program along with any corresponding medical information required. Another way to make use of the fax APIs is by faxing purchase orders directly from the program used to create the order without having to print forms, use a fax machine, or worry about insecure fax servers.


How do fax APIs work?


A cloud-based fax API uses a programming language to allow third party software to communicate with the web-based fax service. The API works by creating an in-software bridge to the web application. Thus, the software can now access the faxing function of the web program without using another program. As a result, an employee can fax without the need to log into a separate program, leave their desk, print documents, or needing a phone line or fax machine.

The API stays on the developer's server, and those who use the API in their applications have permissions that allow their applications to talk to the server. For instance, with cloud fax services, the API used by clients in their in-house programs give those programs the permissions needed to directly contact the cloud fax service for sending and receiving faxes.


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What Is REST API?


REST stands for representational state transfer. This is a standard set of rules used by creators when making APIs. The developer designs the API and uses REST to determine its appearance and operation.

There are five required attributes for applications to qualify as REST, a sixth principle is optional but commonly used. These required components include:

  1. Separate growth of client and server without reliance on the other
  2. Stateless interactions that do not rely on storing information on the server
  3. Cacheability for both the client and server sides
  4. Layered systems that allow multiple servers to access data without a client seeing beyond the layer currently used
  5. Uniform interface that allows for consistency and a common approach to the API
  6. Optionally, clients may download and execute code from the server

When you use REST API, you send requests through a URL that delivers data, called a resource, back to your program. These requests always start with the endpoint, which is where the API originates. The path that follows indicates the type of data your program needs to access from the server.

The exact format of the request sent depends on the programming language used for the request. For instance, to accommodate the needs of multiple users, mFax has API documents that cover cURL, Ruby, Python, and Node.js. Responses always come in the form of JSON.

By implementing REST to communicate between the client and server, the API has a lightweight and fast response with the full functionality of another application.


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Benefits of a fax API


Using a fax API offers multiple benefits over a fax machine and even using a fax server. Using a fax API improves efficiency, provides better security, offers scalability, and simplifies operations in ways that fax machines or servers cannot.

Efficiency

First, fax APIs allow for everything to happen within a single program. This makes the faxing process faster because the user does not have to switch between two separate applications. Users can do more work within one application, faxing and receiving documents with a couple of clicks instead of printing and faxing through a standard fax machine.

Even using a fax server or fax-capable multifunction printer (MFP) takes longer than using a fax API. The server or MFP requires queuing jobs before sending them. Moreover, MFPs and servers are much less secure than sending faxes directly from a program.

Security

The use of an in-program faxing system ensures the security of the data faxed in several ways. First, unauthorized access to the information is reduced since only those with access to the program can send faxes.

Sending faxed documents over a local area network (LAN) to a fax server or multifunctional printer poses a great deal of security risk. The LAN may not encrypt the data in transit to the faxing device. Additionally, hard drives on MFPs and servers typically don't encrypt stored information. Finally, the information transmitted over these devices is vulnerable to anyone who has access to the company’s LAN. Such vulnerabilities may cause these faxing methods to be incompatible with data security regulations.

Scalability

With fax API, your business can easily send multiple faxes quickly without waiting for phone line dial ups and delivery. Faxing can be done by one or dozens of users who use in-house software to access a fax server, scaling with your business needs.

Simplification

One of the issues of running an office is the overhead costs of physical office supplies such as ink, toner, and paper to maintain physical fax machines or MFPs. In addition to these physical tools, the office must also perform regular maintenance on the equipment to ensure that everything continues to work properly.

Using fax API in office programs eliminates the need for these overhead costs. As fewer supplies are needed, trips to the local office supply store are reduced, thereby saving money over time.

In a world that has experienced the upheaval caused by a large portion of the workforce moving to remote offices to avoid spreading the coronavirus, creating options for such operations remains vital for companies. If needed, remote workers can still access the productivity of fax-enabled office software while working away from the office.


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What types of programs does a fax API integrate with?


Several types of programs work with fax API. Productivity and management software pair well with this type of integration. For instance, a CRM can allow for direct faxing or receiving of purchase orders or sales slips instead of using a fax machine and scanner or printer.

A major problem the healthcare industry is working to address is the variety of EHR programs used, some of which are not directly compatible. Therefore, patient records often have to be printed out and faxed to another facility in order to be delivered. This wastes time for medical office staff who already have many responsibilities. With a fax API, they can fax patient records or other information directly from the program without taking extra time to print and fax. More than that, many fax APIs comply with HIPAA and provide admin tools and user controls for safeguarding patient data.

Another use of fax API is through a program that manages customer forms. If an office worker needs to send a form to a customer for signing, they can use the integrated fax right from the software to securely deliver an encrypted fax to the client for signing.

In addition to integrations, fax APIs can be used for white label software production by authorized users. With white label software, your company can resell its software with integrated faxing capabilities or produce a house-brand of in-office software for your employees.


Are fax APIs secure?


Fax APIs are only as secure as the web fax program they interface with. Look for security features such as encryption, administrator controls for users, server security, authentication controls, and audit trail creation.

Additionally, data security measures will be stricter for certain sectors. For instance, businesses in the healthcare industry must meet HIPAA requirements. Ultimately, your company will be responsible for maintaining data security. Your choice of a faxing service plays a role in your compliance. Find a cloud-based fax API that meets the regulatory requirements for your industry.


Find out more about mFax's REST API


Your business can get more from its in-house software and our secure cloud fax service.

mFax offers an industry-leading REST API that allows your business to integrate fax with all the existing apps and workflows your teams are already using.

View our API docs

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