Equisys technical notes

Technical guidance, explanations and fixes for our products

INFO: Rendering methods in Zetafax



ID: ZTN1415

This Zetafax technical note applies to:

  • All versions of Zetafax


In order to be sent as a fax, a document, email, or submit file must be converted into a TIFF image compatible with one of the Group 3 Faxing standards. This process is referred to as "rendering".

There are two areas where rendering may occur:

  • Client-side rendering: this covers methods which perform the conversion on the client machine. All client-side rendering involves the use of printers.
  • Server-side rendering: this covers methods which perform the conversion on the Zetafax Server. This includes methods based on the Mail Rendering Subsystem printer and the document conversion add-on (DOCTIFF).

This technical note describes all the rendering methods available in Zetafax, and concludes with a table summarising the features they offer.

More information

Client-side rendering

All client-side rendering methods use printers to convert the fax into a file format the Zetafax Server can handle. To render a document on the client, you print it to one of the following printers:

  • Zetafax Printer. This printer is available on all operating systems except NT4 Terminal Server. It performs the following tasks:
    • Converts files directly to G3F (Group 3 TIFF format)
    • Processes embedded addressing information
    • Can open the Zetafax Client and trigger the Addressing dialog
    • Can use the attach button within the Zetafax Addressing dialog. Note: The attach button is only enabled from Zetafax V9.1 where you have a software assurance licence, or by default in all subsequent versions of Zetafax.
  • Zetafax FaxMerge Printer. This printer has been discontinued in Zetafax Version 9 on all operating systems except NT4 Terminal Server. In previous versions of Zetafax, it is installed on all operating systems except Windows 2000 and 2003 Terminal Services. The FaxMerge Printer is a modified Epson LQ-1000 printer driver and performs the following tasks:
    • Converts files to Epson format which the Zetafax Server can render
    • Processes fax merge information (used to create coversheets in Zetafax versions prior to 6.0)
    • Triggers the Addressing dialog in the Zetafax Client if it's already open
  • Epson LQ-1000. This printer driver, which ships with Windows, can be used to render documents on the client side when neither Zetafax printer is available. It creates an Epson format file which the Zetafax Server can render natively. It does not interact with the Zetafax Client at all. See the "More Information" section for information on how to configure this printer for use with the API.

Server-side rendering

Depending on which process is used to submit faxes to the Zetafax Server, one or more of the following rendering methods may be used. You can identify which component was used to render a document by inspecting the Zetafax Server's monitor or SERVER.LOG file.

  • Zetafax Server (EPSTIFF). The EPSTIFF module in the Zetafax Server can render these file types to Group 3 compatible TIFF format:
    • Plain text
    • Epson spool file format
    • Graphics file formats (JPG, BMP, PCX, WPG, ICO, DCX, TARGA, GIF, non-G3F TIFF)
  • Email Gateway (STOLE). The email gateway includes its own rendering mechanism. Rendering is handled by a process called STOLE, which opens the document to be rendered in its native application, prints it to the Mail Rendering Subsystem printer, and then submits the resulting TIFF file to the Zetafax Server. The email gateway can render the following formats:
    • Microsoft Office documents
    • Adobe Acrobat
    • In versions prior to Zetafax 8, some other formats such as WordPerfect were also supported.

Note: The Email Gateway can only render documents submitted via email, and the application to render must be installed on the Zetafax Server. As a general rule, this process yields the best results, but it is not suitable for very high volumes.

  • Document rendering add-on (DOCTIFF). The rendering add-on is a chargeable conversion program. It ships with Zetafax version 8.0 or higher and can handle over 250 file formats without needing the applications to be installed. Once its license is installed, it is available to all areas of Zetafax which require server-side rendering, including the Email Gateway, COM or C-language API, Zsubmit and the Web Client. This method will produce an approximation of the original document, but is most suitable for high volumes of faxing.

Note: Documents submitted via the Email Gateway can be rendered by any of the above methods. The method chosen by the Zetafax Server will depend on the following process:

  1. The Zetafax Server checks if the Email Gateway is configured to render the submitted file type. If so, the file will be rendered using the Mail Rendering Subsystem.
  2. If the Email Gateway is not configured to handle the file type, the Zetafax Server will check whether it is licensed to use the rendering add-on. If so, it will start the DOCTIFF process and attempt to render the file that way.
  3. If the rendering add-on is not licensed, not present (pre version 8.0) or unable to handle the file type because it is excluded or not supported, the Zetafax Server will render the file using its own EPSTIFF module.

The API and Web Client can only use DOCTIFF or EPSTIFF. If DOCTIFF is not present, EPSTIFF will attempt to render all non-graphical documents as plain text.

The following table summarises the different rendering methods. "API" in this context refers to the COM or C-language API, or the automated submitter (Zsubmit).



Operating Systems




Zetafax Printer


All except NT4 TS


Zetafax Client

Creates spool file in TIFF format
Supports embedded addressing

Zetafax FaxMerge Printer


Pre V9: All except 2000/2003 TS
V9: None except NT4 TS


Zetafax Client

Creates spool file in Epson format
Can be used to create coversheets

Epson LQ-1000





Creates spool file in Epson format

Zetafax Server (Epstiff)




Zetafax Server
Email Gateway
Web Client

Converts text, Epson and graphics files

Email Gateway (STOLE / Mail Rendering Subsystem)


All except XP and Terminal Servers (*)


Email Gateway

Requires the presence of the document's original application (e.g. Microsoft Word)

Rendering add-on (DOCTIFF)


All except Terminal Servers (*)

Rendering add-on

Email Gateway
Web Client

Converts 250 file types

(*) Please note that the Zetafax Server is not supported in any Terminal Server environment. The details of the environments where each method can be used are given here for information only, and this does not imply that these are normally supported.


For more information on the different rendering methods, please consult the following technical notes:

ZTN1004 INFO Group 3 fax image support

ZTN1301 HOWTO Troubleshooting rendering issues

ZTN1261INFO File types supported by the document conversion add-on DOCTIFF.EXE

ZTN1232 HOWTO Pre-rendering documents for use with the API

Last updated: 03 November 2005 (LD/EB)

Date published 08 October 2004 (EB/SV)

Keywords: < Doctiff> < MRS> < convert>

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