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Getting Started - Licensing with Software Potential

Using Software Potential to License Your Application

Welcome to the Quick Start Guide to Licensing. The purpose of this document is to get you, a first time user, up and running quickly when using the Software Potential service to license your .NET assembly.

It is NOT intended as a detailed guide to application licensing or to cover Code Protection aspects. Please refer to:

Step 1: Create Your Permutation

A permutation defines a unique one way transformation that Code Protector will use to transform the CIL of your assemblies so that the protected assemblies cannot be reverse engineered. You will need to create a Permutation that will be used to protect your product prior to being able to protect code:-

  1. Log in to the Software Potential service at
  2. Select Accounts -> Manage Permutations -> Create Permutation
  3. Enter a name for your permutation and click OK. (This name is purely a nickname used to identify it on menus should you have multiple permutations in your account. We recommend to use a name related to the product you'll be protecting.)
  4. It may take a minute or so for your permutation to generate. On successful generation the status field will change from Creation Pending to Done (NB you'll need to click Refresh to update the status).

Each permutation is uniquely identified by its Short Code which consists of the first five characters of the Permutation Id field. For example a Permutation whose Id is e9dc24g07-d195-4658-a312-82132945711d" has a ShortCode of e9dc2

Step 2: Define Your Product

To license your application you will need to associate it with a Product defined by you in the Software Potential service. To do this:

  1. Log in to the Software Potential service at
  2. Select Products -> Add Product
  3. Add a Name, Version and a Description (optional) for the product, and click OK to save. You should now see the new product listed in the Products page.

Once your Product is defined you are now ready to license your application such that only those users with a valid license can run it.

Define Product Features (optional)

If you wish to employ feature-based licensing (and your subscription permits this) you may wish to add Features to your new product as follows:

  1. Select your new Product in the list of available products and click Edit
  2. Enter a Name and (optionally) a Description for the feature, and the click the + icon to add the feature to the product.
  3. Repeat this for each feature you wish to add to the product.

Once features have been defined you are now in a position to license individual pieces of functionality within your application, such that only those users with a valid license containing the required feature can access the corresponding functionality.

Step 3: Install the NuGet Packages for Licensing

Once you have generated a Permutation and defined a Product in the Software Potential service, the Software Potential components required to license and protect your .NET application are delivered as a set of NuGet packages via the Software Potential NuGet feed at

Software Potential NuGet Packages for Declarative Licensing

To each project in your Visual Studio solution where you wish to both license AND protect code you will need to add the following packages:

In the root (or StartUp) project of your solution you will also need to add a SoftwarePotential.Configuration.Local.<SingleUser/MultiUser>-<PermutationShortCode> package to configure a local license store appropriate to your application type i.e. either


Software Potential NuGet Packages for Programmatic Licensing

In some cases, one may wish to query licenses and/or other Agent API calls without having this code protected e.g. for performance reasons. In this case, you can avoid having a Code Protection phase for each such project by using the SoftwarePotential-<PermutationShortCode>package in place of the SoftwarePotential.Protection-<PermutationShortCode>

Registering the Software Potential NuGet endpoint in Visual Studio

If you have not already done so you will need to add the Software Potential NuGet source to your list of Online sources in NuGet Package Manager in Visual Studio - see Adding Software Potential NuGet Feed

Installing the Packages

To install the packages required to protect and license code in a Visual Studio project:

  1. Right click the Visual Studio project in Solution Explorer and select the Manage NuGet Packages option.
  2. In Package Manager select the Software Potential source from the list of Online sources (to view only the Software Potential packages). (See Registering the Software Potential NuGet endpoint in Visual Studio above if you do not have such an endpoint registered yet)
  3. Select the package SoftwarePotential.Licensing-<Product>_<Version> and click the Install button to install in your project.
  4. Repeat for the other packages as required.

Once the above packages are installed, the Code Protector tooling will be invoked on the output assembly as part of each project build by default, with the result that methods you identify can be automatically licensed (or just protected) each time it is built. Please see SoftwarePotential.Licensing-README for more detailed licensing guidance e.g. how to disable declarative licensing/protection on a build configuration, how to access license data programmatically etc.

Step 4: Configure Licensing Of Your Application

The Software Potential runtime components make no assumptions about your Application i.e., where licenses are stored is completely defined by code within your application. Regardless of what kind of application you have, you'll need to identify your desired configuration to the Software Potential runtime components.

When you installed the SoftwarePotential.Configuration NuGet package in Step 3 you selected the store configuration appropriate to your application type. (Please refer to relevant Configuration README for further information on how to customize the store configuration in your application code if required.)

Stores requiring an Installation Step

Depending on your application type and the licensing models to be supported, your application's installation process may need to provision and initialize a license store. Please refer to Configuration.Local.MultiUser-README.html for further information about this requirement and the steps involved in applying it to your application.

Startup Code: MANDATORY Verification step for all Licensed Applications

In order for the licensing system to know how you wish to manage your licenses, you need to add a call to the Licensing routines that identifies your desired license storage configuration as part of your application's startup.

This needs to run before any Protected or Licensed code in your system (failure to do so makes the system switch into Protected Code only mode). To do this call SpAgent.Configuration.VerifyStoresInitialized(); in your Main or other environment-specific startup hook.

class Program
    static int Main( string[] args )

            // TODO start your application

            return 0;
        catch ( Exception ex )
            Console.Error.WriteLine( "Exception: " + ex );
            return 1;

Step 5: Mark Methods to be Protected or Licensed

To identify the methods to be licensed in a source file you just need to mark each method with the appropriate ProtectionAttribute as per the guidance in http://

For example, the methods in the following code have been marked for protection or licensing against version 2013 of the product MyProduct

Using System;
using Slps.ProtectionAttributes;

public static class ProtectedCode
    public static string UnprotectedAction()
        return "Executed UnprotectedAction";

    public static string ProtectedAction1()
        return "Executed ProtectedAction1";

    public static string ProtectedAction2()
        return "Executed ProtectedAction2";

    public static string ProtectedAction3()
        return "Executed ProtectedAction3";

Please refer to SoftwarePotential.Licensing-README on how to implement licensing programmatically i.e using the Software Potential runtime licensing API's directly.

Step 6: Add facilities for Activation and License Management to your Application

To complete the licensing of your application you will need to enable your customers to activate licenses and manage significant licensing events e.g. when there is no license to run the application. For more implementation details see the sample applications at

Handling NotLicensedException

When an attempt is made to execute code for which an appropriate license is not available, the runtime will throw a NotLicensedException. Typically you will handle this in your application by

Capturing an Activation Key to pass to the License Activation API

In order to run a licensed application the user will need to activate a license via the SpAgent.Product.Activation API, passing an activation key. Typically such a key is captured in a UI element within the application itself. The following code sample illustrates one implementation approach (which is used in our WPF sample application):

public class ActivationModel : IDataErrorInfo, INotifyPropertyChanged
    string _activationKey;

    public string ActivationKey
        get { return _activationKey; }
        set { _activationKey = value; OnPropertyChanged( "ActivationKey" ); }

    // Validation logic wired in by Binding in the XAML for the form to give a clear message to the user
    static string ValidateActivationKey( string activationKey )
        if ( !SpAgent.Product.Activation.IsWellFormedKey( activationKey ) )
            return "The activation key is invalid - please ensure digits/letters have been entered correctly in XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX-XXXXX format";
        return null;

    // XAML sets this as max text input length for Activation Key entry element
    public static int ActivationKeyRequiredLength
        get { return 29; }

    // XAML wires this to the OK Button Click action
    public void OnlineActivate()
        SpAgent.Product.Activation.OnlineActivate( ActivationKey );

Displaying License Details, Managing trials and upgrades

Please refer to and for examples of using the APIs to surface information as to the installed licenses etc.

Step 7: Build Your Application

Build your application as normal (in debug or release mode). Your output assemblies in your normal build output directory (i.e. bin\debug or bin\release) should now have the relevant methods as identified in Step 4 be protected and/or subject to license verification. Relevant accompanying runtime libraries added by the NuGet packages will also be in the output directory and should also be deployed alongside the application.