In the several months since I have been working at netsapiens, one question that consistently comes up is how we integrate with Microsoft Outlook (and other Windows programs).
Being a snooty Mac user, my first response is usually ‘Why would you want to do that?’ (of course, I am referring to the use of Windows). My second response is usually something about a useful open source software program called SIP TAPI.
Part of the Microsoft Windows operating system, TAPI is an abstraction layer that allows ‘applications’ to initiate telephone calls to ‘service providers’ using a standard programming interface. It is used by Microsoft Outlook and other contact management or CRM software to enable users to initiate a telephone call from inside of the program. TAPI freed the application developer from the necessity of learning details about different types of modems or other communication devices, and allowed multiple applications to share a single communication device. In the old days, ‘service providers’ were drivers for modem cards in a PC, and applications (like a dial-up connection manager) would use TAPI to make calls using a hard phone line.
Today, phone lines are being replaced by SIP trunks, and applications can use TAPI to connect to ‘service providers’ that bridge the call to a SIP trunk. SIP TAPI is one such ‘service provider’ implementation, and it can be used with any SIP compliant PBX (or proxy server) and SIP device.
Although SIP TAPI has been around for a while (it’s been available since 2006), many IP PBX users either don’t know about it or don’t realize how easy it is to use. So, I am posting this article so that you can learn how to enable click to call in MS Outlook.
Download SIP TAPI from Sourceforge
Unzip the downloaded package
When entering you SIP credentials, the following parameters refer to the SIP phone that you want to use (SIP TAPI is not a SIP Phone or a softphone; Its purpose is to let you initiate a call from inside a Microsoft TAPI program using your existing SIP device):
Test your SIP TAPI installation by using the Windows dialer program (simply enter dialer.exe into the Start button command line – Image 2 below). When you enter a number in the dialer application, your SIP desk phone should ring. Once you answer the call, the PBX will use a SIP REFER message to connect your session with the number that you dialed following the diagram in Image 3.
Once you have confirmed that SIP TAPI is working with Windows dialer, fire up Microsoft Outlook (or restart it if it’s already running). Right click on any contact and select the “Call” option. In the dialog window, click “Dialing Options” and select SIP TAPI from the available choices. Next, click “Start Call” and you now know how to use click to call from Microsoft Outlook with the netsapiens SNAPsolution.
Troubleshooting: If you run into problems, be sure to check the developer’s README file that is packaged with the download. It covers common problems and basic phone setup for several different brands.