Using a Counter Value in Licensed Applications

By Mike Wozniak | Our Product Tips

Apr 17

Depending upon the menu of licensing options a software vendor makes available to its customers, it may be occasionally necessary to specify an initial limit on the number of users, seats, or credits associated with a given License ID generated through use of SOLO Server.  This initial limit, defined in SOLO Server as the Quantity value, is an arbitrary numeric value assigned to the License ID and is “passed down” (or supplied) to the licensed application during the software activation process.  The Quantity value, as determined by the software vendor, may vary on a customer-by-customer or license-by-license basis.

For example, your software may be licensed according to the total number of named users in a database, or perhaps according to an initial total of prepaid credits which are consumed by the application over time or on a per-use basis (i.e., a decrementing counter).  The License Counter field on the License Details page can be effectively utilized by SOLO Server authors to further define this license-specific parameter and is an extremely powerful feature for Protection PLUS 5 API users.  Let’s begin our in-depth look at this new SOLO Server feature by illustrating a particular instance for which its use would be most ideally suited.

A license record can be added manually by an administrator. A customer can also purchase a license through the SOLO Server shopping cart. In both of these cases, a license Quantity value is chosen when the license is added (by the administrator or customer, respectively). So why was it necessary to add a License Counter field when the Quantity field already existed? The main reason is because of the shopping cart use case. Think about an invoice that looks like this:

Invoice # 123456
Quantity Product Unit Price Extended Price
2 Product A Name Goes Here
License ID: 9876543
$99 $198
Total: $198

The shopping cart will calculate the total by multiplying the quantity by the unit price for every line item on the invoice. If the customer wanted to purchase additional seats/users/credits under the previously assigned License ID 9876543, there would be a natural tendency to want to edit the License ID record and change the value of Quantity Ordered field from 2 to 3. SOLO Server does not allow shopping cart orders to be edited in this manner, as changing the quantity would cause the invoice to no longer balance.

Now enter the License Counter field. The License Counter field is an independent numeric value that can be arbitrarily modified without adversely impacting the original invoice balance.

When configuring the License Counter Source field on a Product Option, you can control how the License Counter field receives its initial value:

  • None: The License Counter field will be left as a blank/NULL value. This is treated as a 0 (zero) value when the property is queried in Protection PLUS 5 APIs.
  • Quantity: The Quantity field of the initial order will be copied to the License Counter value. This option allows the customer to choose their initial quantity and pay for whatever quantity they choose.
  • Specified Value: The value set in the License Counter Value field of the applicable Product Option record will establish the initial value of the License Counter. For example, you could have a Product Option called “5 User License” and use a specified value of 5. The user can choose a quantity of 1 but when the software is activated, it will be told that 5 users are allowed. If the user chooses a quantity greater than 1, the specified value is multiplied by the quantity.

From this point forward, the License Counter can be adjusted without affecting the original invoice.  How then, you may ask, can the License Counter field be subsequently modified?  There are a couple of available methods:

  1. An administrator can edit the License Details and change the License Counter value as much, and as often, as desired. The License Details page gives all SOLO Server users with Edit License permission the ability to modify this value. (It is also possible to implement a custom-built Edit License Parameters button on the License Details page through engagement of SoftwareKey’s professional services. Contact us for further details!)
  2. Customers can be presented with an option to purchase additional users on an as-needed basis using the SOLO Server shopping cart by combining the Customer License Portal and the shopping cart rules engine. This gives the customer a self-service option for modifying the License Counter value.

During initial product activation with the Protection PLUS 5 API, the License Counter field will be sent down in the License File that is downloaded. Whenever the License Counter field (or, for that matter, any other field) value is updated in SOLO Sever, the client can perform a simple license refresh to download the updated license parameters and make them effective immediately in real-time. Furthermore, you can configure the Order Confirm HTML field on the upgrade product option so that when the customer purchases an upgrade to an existing license, a message can be displayed to provide them with instructions on how to refresh the license for your software.

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About the Author

Mike Wozniak is one of the co-founders of SoftwareKey.com and responsible for marketing, content and product strategy. When he isn't plotting new ways to help customers solve licensing and business automation challenges, he likes to travel and entertain guests who come to visit the Orlando area. He also writes most of the licensing tips here.