Blog on Software Licensing, Commercialization, and Revenue Optimization

Activation files, de-activations and coming features

Activation Box

This week we’ve finished the “activation file box” that can be found on the product page. Here’s an overview:

The advantage of using it that you can easily add and remove new devices, as well as get an activation file that can be sent to users with no Internet access. The activation box consists of several ideas suggested by our users, so it feels great to add support for it!

Where we are moving

Many of us have experienced that since the last year, the core interface has remained unchanged. However, under the hood, many new functionalities have been added. Our primary focus has always been on the new Web API 3, which, in contrast to Web API 2, gives you more power and customization. Now that we have the foundation up and running, the new changes to the interface are going to occur much faster. Here, our aim is to move to a single-page design that allows you to stay on the same page without having to refresh the page. The goal is to increase productivity by reducing page loading time.

Another point worth mentioning is that we are going to expand the capabilities of the SKM.dll (aka SKGL Extension). Many of us use KeyInformation objects to store license information. However, many things have changed since it was first introduced, and keeping adding new things to it won’t be good from both a design perspective and a usability perspective.Therefore, we plan to add an entirely new class of representing license key information, with fields for customer information, data objects (aka additional variables), etc. Unfortunately, this will require some migration for those of us would like to adapt the new way. But, we will do our best to make it as simple as possible.

This is really exciting and I hope to be able to share some updates with you in the coming weeks! 🙂 You are always able to see the progress here.

Improvements to Payment Forms

Automation of software licensing and distribution greatly reduces the time needed to process orders, and thus allows you to focus on building great products. SKM Payment Forms allow you to easily achieve that automation.

Here are some of the improvements we’ve made in the last couple of weeks:

  • TutorialDesigned a new, comprehensive tutorial about Payment Forms.
  • Receipts: Enabled support for sending receipts on a successful transaction.
  • EmailAdd a requirement to enter an email during for each transaction.This was done to make it easier for you to identify the customers for each transaction, which is good in case something went wrong.
  • PayPal: Allow the IPN to be used with multiple payment forms. Now, you only need to specify one IPN address, i.e. https://serialkeymanager.com/Form/IPN/.

Easy Way to Update Licenses

One of the requested features is the ability to update licenses (see previous post about extending licenses). Today, we’ve released two new methods that make it easier to update the state of any given feature. The methods are:

In addition to that, there is now an option to create Access Tokens that have a feature lock. That is, not only is it possible to restrict the scope of the access token to a product or a key, but also to features.

Both of these are now a part of the new version of the client API (SKGL Extension).

Offline Activation

As many of you might know, when SKGL Extension does not have access to the Internet, the TimeLeft field will not be updated.Therefore, please always use DaysLeft method in those cases.

Feedback

Web API 3 is constantly being improved. Please let us know how we can make it even better!

SKGL Extension 2.0.9 available

A new version of the client API for Serial Key Manager is now available. You can get it from GitHub or NuGet (in Visual Studio):

Here are some of the new capabilities:

* Allow the username (current logged in user) to be included in the getMachineCode method.
* Ability to save and load key information data in JSON format.
* Add ExtendLicense method.
* Add general interface to communicate with Web API 3.

Simple Subscription Management with Web API 3

Today, we’ve released two main things that will simplify many of the tasks that are faced primarily by those that want to set up a subscription based licensing model. These are the Extend License method and the introduction of Web API 3.

Extend License method

The Extend License method offers a simple way of extending a license either before the subscription has expired or afterwards. It’s actually as simple as to simply specify the number of days you want the license to be extended with and it will do the rest. Another great thing about it is that it is encapsulated into the Web API 3 framework, which means that you have greater possibility to adjust the scope/permissions (more about that below).

Introduction of Web API 3

Several months ago, we discontinued the old Web API, and moved most of the methods into Web API 2. The introduction of Web API 3 is a bit different, though. There is no intention of trying to discontinue the 2nd version. Instead, the 3rd version is simply an extension of the 2nd, with features that are desired by our users. Here are some of the examples:

  • The 3rd version keeps all information about scopes of permissions in Access Tokens. You can specify the methods that an access token has access to as well as the products and keys it should be able to interact with. Note, IsPublic will not affect the access to a product; it’s all managed using access tokens. Moreover, you are able to revoke access at any time by removing the token from here.
  • Versioning has improved quite a lot in the 3rd version of the Web API. Now, you can explicitly specify the method version that you want access to, by adding it to the query string. It’s not required, but once we introduce new features, it will be quite simple to upgrade.

Feedback and suggesting new methods

The 3rd version of the Web API is still quite new, so if you have any problem in mind or a suggestion of a concrete method, please submit your idea here! 🙂

Added Simplicity and Support for Sorting

There are two words that summarize what’s going to be said below: simplicity and productivity. Shortly, we’ve simplified the most difficult operations in the .NET API and added the ability to find/sort your licenses. The aim of all of these changes is to save your time as much as possible.

Simplicity in the .NET client

If you have the recent version of the .NET client SKGL Extension, you might have noticed the extension methods that we’ve added to the Key Information class. The great thing about them is that you can use SKGL Extension as a fluent API (learn more). So, say you would like to set up offline key activation, how would you take an advantage of these methods? Here’s is an example:

Productivity with Search Function

The small search field available on the product page becomes really handy when searching for specific licenses. For instance, you can search based on the creation date, features, notes as well as customer related data (if a key is assigned to a certain customer). Here’s an example of a simple query:

Other things

In addition, here are some of the other changes:

  • If you use SKM15, the key will no longer update during trial activation.
  • The Web API 2 is now entirely compatible with SKM15.
  • The Web API has a new page. Please take a look!
  • Customers can now be created in all subscription types.
  • Everyone can create a payment form as well as activation form (with or without a subscription). In some cases, a small link will be displayed.

Key Generation supports SKM15 and Customer Management

The Key Generation method has, from now on, support for our new key generation algorithm SKM15 and the ability to assign a key to a customer.

In addition, we’ve started working on a new documentation page for the Web API, where, in future, all information (for all versions) will be located. One of the greatest things is the ability to get personalized values for some parameters.

SKGL Mentioned in Licensing .NET Applications!

Our licensing suite Software Protector (based on SKGL) is mentioned as an example of a licensing framework in Licensing .NET Applications by Fabian Deitelhoff at Pluralsight http://www.pluralsight.com/co…/licensing-dotnet-applications.

See the story behind SKGL in the InfoQ Interview:http://www.infoq.com/news/2014/12/SKGL

SKGL – Serial Key Generating Library is an offline based key validation system where license information is stored directly inside the key. It’s used by individual developers as well as companies. Designed by Artem in 2010-2011.

Interested in different kinds of key generation algorithms? Check out http://www.codeproject.com/Articles/764610/Licensing-systems-in-NET.

Successful change of infrastructure and the way it affects the licensing model

Dear Users!

In this letter, I would like to describe the progress that we’ve made since the 9th of June as a mean to reduce downtimes, how our licensing model has changed, how it affects current customers, and finally some of the new functionality that are currently available and those that will be available soon.

First of all, I would like to thank everyone who took their time to reply to the questionnaire that was attached to the previous post. It has been really helpful and has affected the way the plan was executed. Generally, most of us share the opinion that we should have new servers and to allow SKM to be hosted on private servers. Within the same week, we changed the infrastructure from being in a shared environment to a virtual private server provided by Microsoft Azure. From now on, no more downtimes should occur as the environment is highly compatible with our application. In addition, the response speed should be a lot faster than before.

Some of the advantages of the change of infrastructure is that it makes SKM even more reliable for critical operations such as instant license validation and payment processment. However, security and reliability improvements have affected the licensing model of our application. Now, instead of just offering a cloud based software licensing system, there will be an option to host SKM on your own servers. This is particularly good for enterprises with policies that require data to be stored in the infrastructure of the company.

If you choose to host SKM on your own, there are two ways it can be achieved: dedicated and on premise. The first option gives you SKM that is specifically hosted for your company, but which is maintained and hosted by us. The latter allows you to host SKM on your own servers. Maintenance is still included in this case.

Since we have three new types of subscriptions: Standard, Professional and Ultimate, the old Premium subscription is now longer available for new customers. Thanks to all current Premium subscribers, SKM has continuously grown from just being a way to avoid duplicates in Software Protector (SKGL) to an advanced, competitive, affordable, developer friendly licensing solution with tools that ensure that you reduce the time needed to maintain software licensing and distribution. Your friendly feedback and loyalty has encouraged us to keep on adding new features in order to deliver you a great service. Therefore, all current Premium subscribers will be able to upgrade their subscriptions in the same way as before. However, if you would like to get our newest features, you are always welcome to upgrade to any other subscription!

Now, let’s have a look at what’s new in SKM. Clearly, the design has changed in many parts of the application, in order to ensure that you get a great user experience. It’s not yet perfect, but we do our best to make it as great as possible (and you are always encouraged to let us know your thoughts on the forum!). Since we want SKM to be as simple as possible, we’ve added support for a fluent interface in SKGL Extension (read more here). Moreover, to simplify customer management, we’ve added the ability to assign keys to a customer, which removes the hassle that can occur when you have to manage many licenses. From now on, it’s the customer, not the license key that should be in centre. Later this year, we will extended the Web API to allow it to be more customer based. In addition, there is support for a new algorithm for key generation, namely SKM15. This algorithm is more adjusted to an online licensing system such as SKM. Our Web API is not entirely compatible with SKM15, but everything is made to change this (here is compatibility list).

In the nearest future, we plan to open up a new version of the Web API with support for token based authentication, simplified versioning and documentation. A final date is not set because even if it set, more time will be required to review and test it, which would make the initial prediction incorrect. It will be released, that’s what can be said at the moment. In addition, we’ve started working on a cool feature that allows you to analyse the usage of your application (during activation for instance). By setting up a script, you can track down potential violations of a certain license quite easily. Again, it will be released, but there is still no solid deadline. If you would like to test our current progress, please let us know!

In conclusion, here’s what we’ve gone through. First of all, the infrastructure has changed to avoid downtimes. Secondly, support for dedicated and on premise hosting was added for those that prefer to have a private SKM server. Thirdly, current Premium customers will be able to keep their subscription as before, however, there is always an option to get new features by upgrading to a different subscription. Fourthly, we mentioned that there is an added support for customer management and there is also a new key generation algorithm optimized for SKM. Finally, it was announced that a new Web API will be released with support for token based authentication (and much more), and that soon you will be able to track down potential license violations using simple scripts. Finally, I would like to thank all of you for providing constructive feedback and suggesting new features. It has been fun to work with you, and I’m looking forward to continue working with you in order to ensure that your products are secured with a modern licensing system!

Kind Regards,

Artem

Lead Developer