A technology blog for The Economist Group IT team

Friday, February 25, 2005

I thought it time to break my duck on EcoBlogIT - so no more the virgin blogger . This posting is prompted by a recent conversation I had with David Henderson regarding the printing of project plans. For those of us who have the joy of producing such nuggets, a key problem is trying to present it in a way that the user can see both the tasks and staff needed in one easy format. MS project for all it's uses, does not provide such a utility - a gap in the product for sometime. Furthermore not everyone has MS Project and people also like to take away a hard copy - so a one off presentation is not really an option.

So to the point... Sometime last year I stumbled across a utility called efax. As it's name suggests it is an internet fax utility - it works by creating an electronic snapshot of the original document, effectively a graphic. This can then be saved locally or faxed/ sent by email over the web. Very handy for distribution of project plans.

So after a one off install- which installs the printer drivers and makes the tool available from all applications on your desktop. Your ready to run. Personally I create my document print it to the efax printer - this opens efax and gives you a preview of the converted document. I then save the document, use the efax Docuement w/viewer (*. exe) option - this creates an executable file of your document. I then send via email. Although you could send via email direct from efax.

The nice thing about this tool are:
1. One off install
2. Users do not need to install anything or have specific software e.g. Adobe reader
3. Users get a static view of the project plan (both electronic and one that they can print out - similar to pdf)
4. You received an assigned fax number to to recieve faxes on
5. You can send fax from your desktop
6. It's free

Assuming there are no issues (from IT) with using the tool I would recommend using it- it has saved me much time. http://www.efax.com. You can register for free and start using - but you get adverts. By paying for the premium service I believe these adverts are removed.

If anyone knows of a better tool I would be happy to hear about it.
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