Welcome to the Getting Started with Distributor Licensing guide. The purpose of this document is to get you, a first time user, up and running quickly when using the Software Potential Service to implement floating/concurrent licensing of your .NET application.
Software Potential Distributor allows you to quickly and effectively implement floating / concurrent licensing of your applications. One or more Distributor instances can be quickly installed on the customers’ premises enabling:
- Rapid deployment of a large installed base of a licensed application where it is not practical to install licenses on each installed instance (Enterprise Licensing)
- Multiple installed instances of a licensed application where the number of installed instances exceeds the number of available licensed seats for the application
- Web farm scenarios where the number of instances of the software can vary over time with performance and load factors (Dynamic Licensing)
- Virtualized environments where secure license storage is not achievable e.g. ability to clone and/or rollback VMs etc (Virtual Licensing).
Distributor has been generally available from the 3.1.1921 release of the Software Potential Service. Distributor clients can interoperate with server instances of different versions from that release onward.
How it Works
When an application is Distributor-aware, licenses can be activated and stored in a central Distributor service and then dynamically allocated across multiple deployed instances of the application. Each application instance includes a local
Sp.Agent extension that must be configured to identify a Distributor Service instance. A service instance can be hosted locally on one of the client machines or, more typically, on a separate network-accessible machine.
Whenever protected code that requires a license is encountered for the first time, the
Sp.Agent component will query the Distributor service for the Feature required to execute the protected code. The service will yield a lease for the requested feature if there is one available (based on the licenses installed in Distributor instance and allocations held by other competing application instances.)
Any such allocated leases are automatically renewed until such time as the application instance is closed (enabling execution not to be subject to a network round-trip every time).
It is possible to set a limit on the number of instances of the licensed application that can be run concurrently for a given Distributor license. The Distributor instance will refuse requests from additional application instances once the limit has been reached.
If a Distributor license includes features then by default all instances of the application will have access to all included features. However, it is possible to also set limits on individual features such that only a subset of the permitted concurrent instances can access individual features. The limit set at feature level must be equal to or less than the value set at the instance level.
For example it is possible to issue a license with two features ("Feature A" and "Feature B") that allows x3 instances of a licensed application to run concurrently, where each instance is able to access Feature A but only one instance can access Feature B at any given time.
Checkout / Disconnected Mode
With Distributor, it is also possible to switch a protected application to Disconnected mode. This facility is useful where the application needs to run in a context where it will not be possible to communicate to a Distributor service instance for a period of time e.g. when the user is working remotely while out of the office or on vacation.
To operate in Disconnected mode the user must first, while connected to Distributor, check out the required Features for a given period of time. These checked out Features are then reserved on the service for this extended period and cached on the local machine for the duration of the checkout period, allowing the Protected application to run without any contact with the service.
The cached features can be checked in (at a time when network connectivity has been restored) under the control of the application. At this point, the long term leases on the server are released and allocation once again switches to Connected mode.
Enabling Your Application to work with Distributor
To configure your application for use with Distributor you will need to add the SoftwarePotential.Distributor.Configuration-<PermutationShortCode> NuGet package to your solution and provide a user facility to configure the application with a Distributor Endpoint URI.
To connect to a Distributor instance, the application must be configured with a Distributor endpoint URI, which takes the form:
<DistributorServerName>is the FQDN of the server on which the Distributor service is installed (you can alternatively use the IP address of the server).
<PortNo>is the port on which the Distributor instance is listening for client connections; by default this is 8731.
Please see the Configuration.Distributor-README for more detailed information on enabling your application to work with Distributor.
Packaging Distributor Server
In addition to enabling your application via the Distributor client components, you will also need to package the Distributor Server so that it can be installed on-premise by your customers. The process is straightforward and involves:
- Installing Sp.Distributor NuGet package to obtain your permuted edition of the Distributor server components
- Packaging the Distributor Server components for installation by your end customer
- Customizing Distributor settings as required.
Please see Sp.Distributor-README for more details on the packaging and installing of Distributor.
Installing Distributor Server
Once installed the Distributor Service can be stopped/started/restarted via the Services Snap-in (find the Software Potential Distributor Service, and right click to select Stop, Start or Restart as appropriate). It can also be managed using install.cmd batch file e.g.
Configuring Distributor Server
By default the Distributor service listens on Port 8731 for feature allocation requests from appropriately configured licensed applications. A new port can be allocated to suit a customer environment by changing the port number value of the
Slps.Distributor.Service.BaseUri key in
Administrating Distributor Server
Distributor is administered via Web Administration portal available at
Slps.Distributor.Host element in
The admin portal allows your customer to:
- Activate Distributor licenses (in either online or disconnected mode)
- View all licenses installed in the Distributor server
- View current feature usage by connected licensed applications.
Issuing a Distributor License
Licenses suitable for Distributor are created using the Software Potential service in the same manner as any other license. The key differences with a Distributor license are:
- The Distributor option must be selected in the Environment and Locking section.
- In the Usage Settings section the Max Concurrent Instances value is set to the number of concurrent usages for the license being created i.e. a value of 2 here will allow two people to use your application at once within the Distributor system.
Distributor licenses can be created either:
- Manually on an ad-hoc basis via the Issue New License page or
- Programmatically via the CreateLicense method of the web service API.
Issuing a License Manually
To issue a Distributor license manually via the Software Potential portal:
- Select Manage Licenses tab, then Issue New License option
- Select the Product to be licensed from the drop down list
- Add Features (if required) and optionally set a Concurrent Usage limit on each by editing the feature and setting a Concurrent Usage value
- In the Environment and Locking section, open the Distributed option and select either Seat Based or Machine Based
- For a Named User license set the Named User checkbox and set an appropriate Lock Days value
Please see Getting Started With Named User Licenses for more information on Named User Distributor licenses.
- In the Usage Settings section set the Max Concurrent Instances value to the number of concurrent instances of your application allowed e.g. a value of 2 here will allow two people to use your application simultaneously.
- Click Issue License. This will generate an Activation Key that your customer will need to subsequently activate the license in Distributor.
Issuing a License Programmatically
You automate the issuance of a Distributor license using the Software Potential web API at https://srv.softwarepotential.com/SLMServerWS/LicenseManagementWS.svc. To create a Distributor license progammatically you will need to:
Limitations.MaxConcurrentUsageproperty set to the number of concurrent usages for the license,
IsDistributorproperty set to True.
LicenseInfoobject you just created.
If you wish to issue a Seat Based license you will also need to add two Custom Tags:
L:RequiresClient. Without these tags the license is Machine Based.
For a Named User license you will need to add the
L:RequiresNamedUsers Custom Tag
Alternatively, to avoid having to create the LicenseInfo object from scratch, you could first create a SKU for the Distributor license and issue your licenses progammatically based on that SKU:
- Create a SKU for a Distributor license and record the SKUId
GetSKUByID()with the SKUId (to retrieve the required LicenseInfo object corresponding to the SKU)
CreateLicense()with the returned LicenseInfo object.
In either case the Software Potential service will return you the Activation Key for the license you've just created and you will need to forward this to your customer to enable them to activate the license in a Distributor instance.
Activating a Distributor License
Distributor licenses are activated using the Distributor Web Administration portal. By default this is located at
There are two ways to activate a Distributor license depending on whether the machine on which Distributor is installed has internet access or not.
If the machine on which Distributor is installed has internet access then:
- Select the Activation Tab on Web Administration page
- Enter the Activation Key and click Submit.
The page will display an appropriate message if the activation has been successful and an appropriate error message if unsuccessful.
If the machine on which Distributor is installed has no direct internet access available then:
- Select the Activation tab and click on the Manual Activation link.
- Enter the License Key and click Submit.
- Copy the content of License Request Data field and send it to the application vendor (e.g. via email, HTTP or FTP) to be processed.
- On receipt of the license file copy it to the file system on machine on which Distributor is installed
- Navigate to the Distributor Manual Activation page, Browse to find the license file saved from the previous step and click Install.
As with Online activation mode the page will display an appropriate message if the activation has been successful and an appropriate error message if unsuccessful.
Viewing Activated Licenses in Distributor
Select the Products tab and then Show Licenses link to display a summary of the license installed. Select the More link to see the details of a given license.
That’s it! Distributor is now ready to automatically allocate features to instances of protected applications that have been correctly configured to communicate with it.