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Sending Documents Like It's 1988

Once every year or two I need to send a fax. Never receive, just send. Usually for something involving the finance industry. Twilio makes this about as painless as it can be in the 21st century.

Unfortunately the Twilio Fax API doesn’t allow you to post the document to it directly, so the first step is to get the PDF online somewhere. After that, it can be faxed via curl.

$ curl https://fax.twilio.com/v1/Faxes \
    -X POST \
    -d 'To=%2B15408684391'  \
    -d 'From=%2B14158675309'  \
    -d 'MediaUrl=https://example.com/document.pdf' \
    -u $TWILIO_ACCOUNT_ID:$TWILIO_AUTH_TOKEN

This queues up the document to be sent, which usually takes a couple minutes. Somewhere in the response will be a URL that looks like https://fax.twilio.com/v1/Faxes/$GIBBERISH. After a few minutes, this URL can be used to check the status.

$ curl https://fax.twilio.com/v1/Faxes/$GIBBERISH \
    -X GET \
    -u $TWILIO_ACCOUNT_ID:$TWILIO_AUTH_TOKEN | python -m json.tool

If the status is queued, processing or sending, check back in a few minutes. If it is delivered, you’re all done and can delete the uploaded PDF. If the status is something else, you probably need to try again. Perhaps ask the recipient to sign out of AOL and hang-up their modem so that their fax machine can accept your call.

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