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Categories: Licensing

License Portal or Gateway – The Choice is Yours

A license portal gives users a means to personally manage the licenses they have bought. This reduces the need for costly support services, enables users to solve most of their questions and problems around licenses immediately as they happen, and makes the entire process more enjoyable and satisfying for the client: A better service for less money.

CodeMeter License Central can provide a whole spectrum of license portals: from ready-to-use options like WebDepot or the more customizable UserPortal to the completely tailored solution, MyPortal. You can also access the license portal of your choice directly from within your software, making the portal a gateway on the server that implements your business logic with the frontend seamlessly integrated in your product in the form of a software activation wizard.

How it Works

Login

In order to transfer licenses, the user needs to log into the portal, which can be done either with a ticket or a regular user account.

Show Licenses

The user has access to a list of all their licenses and the locations where they are currently kept.

Distribute Licenses

The original purpose of the license portal is to handle the distribution of licenses and to activate or deactivate them in the process. For activation, the licenses are moved from the license portal into a CmContainer of some type; for deactivation, they are simply returned to the license portal. They can then be moved again into a new CmContainer, making it possible for licenses to be transferred. As the developer of the licensed software, it is up to you to decide whether licenses can be deactivated or moved around in this way.

The entire process can happen directly online if the chosen browser supports communication with the local CodeMeter Runtime. If it does not or if the user wants to move the license to another device, the activation needs to take the detour of a file transfer, which the license portal calls the offline mode. Key to this process is the interaction between the software activation wizard and the license portal.

Recover Licenses

In the case of CmActLicenses in particular, it is not unusual for the computer they were used on to be “retired” or rebuilt in some form over the course of the licenses’ life. The automatic recovery function enables the user to reactivate these licenses, while letting you decide how often this can be done on one computer or on changing devices. The limitation can optionally even be defined for so many instances per time period.

The old CmContainer that had held the license at the time of its loss is automatically blacklisted. By regularly checking this blacklist, you can identify and, if need be, block these CmContainers, which would invalidate the licenses in question. You can even enforce this operation by way of an auto-update.

Auto-Update

Auto-updates are licenses that were assigned to a specific CmContainer upon their creation. They can be retrieved in two possible ways:

The license portal includes an auto-update function. The user picks a CmContainer to see all licenses that are available for that container. These licenses can be retrieved with one click of the mouse.

Alternatively, all auto-updates are executed in the background during any other regular license transaction. For the user, this appears as a single process, as the automatic updates and the transactions the user actually requested seem to happen at the same time. Looking more closely, the automatic updates are given priority, which can be important when the individual licenses are dependent upon on each other in some way. 

Choose CmContainer Types

As software developer, it is your choice whether the user can move a license into a CmDongle or a CmActLicense. If you allow both options, the user can pick between the two CmContainer types.

If you are a maker of embedded devices, you can define other CmContainer types specifically for these devices, adjusting the available choice accordingly.

Localization and Corporate Design

The license portal is part of your interface with the user. It can be customized to match your corporate design and to use any language you want to support. This flexibility is a key design parameter for the license portal architecture: the portal design can be adjusted with powerful style sheets, and all text is stored in separate resource files to allow you to change the wording or even translate the entire text as you need. Currently, WebDepot comes with a standard choice of 10 languages.

Split Licenses / Units

Imagine a user buys a package of 10 licenses that you want him or her to be able to split and distribute to different CmContainers. This feature helps your user break down network licenses into however many packages and units for use in the field as are needed.

You can allow this feature if you want to give your users this added flexibility or block it if it is not consistent with your chosen pricing policy.

Register Users

A special add-on module in the UserPortal allows your users to register, giving both you and your users special benefits: Registered users can, for instance, allocate tickets and the licenses they assign to their accounts. After having done this, they would only need their usual login data to manage their licenses instead of the full tickets. This makes the processes simpler, especially if the users in question are working with multiple tickets.

The registration process also gives you more information about the users working with your software, which can be particularly interesting if your business model depends on selling premium versions or add-on features for originally free-to-use software. Even if the sales are handled by some other sales channel that gives you no direct contacts with your users, the optional registration is a great way to learn more about them.

Allocate Licenses

The UserPortal recognizes two types of users: License administrators and license users. A license administrator can allocate licenses to different end users or take them away again if need be. This is intended in particular for commercial clients. The license administrators would be able to see all licenses owned by their employer and know exactly who is using them at the moment. License users only have access to the licenses given specifically to them.

Trial Licenses

Another optional function of a license portal is to create and distribute trial licenses. These give the users 24/7 access to the licenses and allows them to create or activate them to the extent that you allow. The feature can be tailored to your specific needs in MyPortal.

Available Versions

Ready-to-Use Solutions

WebDepot offers you a complete turnkey solution that you can adjust to match your corporate design by tweaking the style sheet or replacing graphics. WebDepot can handle all basic functions like license transfers, recovery, auto-update, license splitting, choice of CmContainers, and additional localizations.

Users authenticate themselves with their tickets.

Customized License Portal

UserPortal is an expanded version of WebDepot that includes additional modules, which can be activated to add more features, like user registration or allocated licenses.

You can choose between authentication by ticket, by user account, or even both.

WebDepot screenshot

Custom Portal

You can fully customize your solution to add even more functions to UserPortal and WebDepot. The resulting MyPortal will be a perfect fit for your needs, e.g. with the ability to create trial licenses.

Other typical adjustments are additional mo- dules, a customized business logic, or a complete re-design that goes beyond adjustments to the existing style sheets. Both UserPortal and WebDepot have special interfaces in place to allow you to customize their business logic and appearance, while their standard core remains unchanged and can be updated without the risk of version conflicts.

EduPortal

EduPortal is a specialized version of the license portal. Based on UserPortal, it tailors the process to the needs of higher education institutions. As software developer, you can sell universities and colleges a number of licenses; the EduPortal can then distinguish between faculty / teaching staff and students. Faculty members are given the licenses to distribute to their students. When the term ends, the licenses automatically become void and can be redistributed again for the next class. Students can, but do not have to, register using optional rules to limit this to specific mail addresses (same domain as their teachers).

You can manually authorize the teaching staff.

Gateways for Software Activation Wizards

A gateway for your software activation wizard is essentially a license portal without its own user interface. It works with the same source code as WebDepot and includes the same functions, but relies on your local application for the interface with the user. This local implementation is the software activation wizard and is available as C#, Java, and C/C++ source code.

One great advantage of gateways and license portals is their ability to work together in offline scenarios. A software activation wizard, for example, can create a request file if no online connection can be made to the gateway. The user then takes this file to WebDepot to receive the update he or she needs for the software activation wizard.

Another common choice is to combine EduPortal with Software Activation Wizard. The teacher then manages the available licenses in the EduPortal, while his or her students use a wizard for activating their software.

Business Logic

The system’s capabilities are not limited to customizing your license portal and Software Activation Wizard. It allows you to tailor the entire business logic for distributing your licenses to your needs.

Keep Tickets Complete

One typical requirement is the ability to bundle licenses. You can use internal packages in CodeMeter License Central for that purpose, or a ticket to act as a package. In that case, all licenses from that ticket would always be activated in one and the same CmContainer. Even licenses that are later added to the ticket in question could only be used with that CmContainer. Whenever licenses are activated or deactivated, the system would take all licenses on the ticket together.

Declutter Tickets 

If you are used to distributing large numbers of updates, e.g. for clients with maintenance contracts on place, the number of licenses on a ticket can grow and grow over the years. For key accounts or users who own licenses for many separate functions, that number can quickly rise into the hundreds of licenses on a single ticket.

The license portals and gateway now give you the opportunity to declutter tickets by removing licenses that are not used anymore. This makes the picture clearer for your user and improves performance during license distribution.

Enter Data on Activation

CodeMeter License Central offers dynamic entries that are filled in either when an order is created or upon delivery. One typical example would be the entry for the ticket in the license. The license portals and gateways automatically recognize the free entry and enter the relevant data when the license is activated.

The same system is used to register user names for named user licenses. You can then add rules that determine how much and how often those names can be changed.

Custom Constraints

CodeMeter License Central gives you the opportunity to define product dependencies with special constraints. When several licenses are activated together, these are checked in the order of the licenses’ creation. In some instances, it can be necessary for the check to be executed separately or to go beyond the limits imposed by the defined constraints. You can define your own constraints to be checked and set detailed custom error messages if the check fails. 

 

WebDepot

UserPortal /
EduPortal

MyPortal

Software Activation Wizard / Gateway

Technology

Server: PHP

Server: PHP

Server:
PHP, Java, ASP.NET, …

Server: PHP

Client: C#, C++, Objective-C, Java, …

Login

Ticket

Ticket,
User/Password

Ticket, User/Password, Integration in third-party systems

Ticket

Show licenses

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Distribute licenses

Online / Offline

Online / Offline

Online / Offline

Online / Offline

Recover licenses 

CmContainer /
individual licenses

CmContainer /
individual licenses

CmContainer /
individual licenses

CmContainer /
individual licenses

Auto-updates

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Choice of CmContainer type

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Localization and Corporate Design

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Split licenses / units

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Register users

 

Yes

Yes

Optional

Allocate licenses to users / students

 

Yes

Yes

 

Create trial licenses

 

 

Yes

 

Keep tickets complete

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Declutter tickets 

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Enter data on activation

Ticket

Ticket

Ticket, any data

Ticket, optional
any data

Custom Constraints

 

 

Yes

Optional