Developer's overview for generating license keys and activating software.
Mirrakey is an ActiveX dll that you can add to any COM compliant development project to generate and authenticate license keys for your software application. Mirrakey is flexible and includes an in-built client-side license key manager interface that you can customize with your logo and relevant inputs for key validation. The License Manager window (if you choose to use it) will save the registration information on the client computer to an XML file for validation by your application. The validation can be called at any time, such as the program launch or when a specific feature is selected. As the software developer, the authentication trigger is your choice.
What Mirrakey can do...
Mirrakey can generate unique license keys based on one or more of three input parameters plus up to eight options or features. The input parameter or properties are string values that you can use for any values you require to identify your software, user or both. The three properties have friendly names (ProductName, SerialNo & UserName) but you can provide any string value for all or one of these properties to generate a key. Of course, to generate a unique key, at least one property input must be unique.
The decision regarding the input values is your decision based on your licensing requirements. For example, you could use one of the following scenarios:
ProductName = "MyWidget"
UserName = firstname.lastname@example.org
ProductName = "MyApp"
SerialNo = "12345676" (this could be a random number/string generated on installation of your App).
ProductName = "MyProgram"
SerialNo = CPU ID (you could use some hardware identifier on the user's computer)
These are just some examples because the input parameters are up to you as the software developer. Those parameters will depend on whether you generate the key manually on request or use a website to automatically generate the license key and send it to the client.
If you generate the key manually you can obviously enter the properties at that time but more likely you will want to automate the process and generate the keys on a website and send them to the client. Typically this would occur after payment authentication. Payment authentication methods will vary depending on your payment gateway provider but, after authentication, you will need to use the parameters you require that have been submitted by your customer from your application. This would typically be a HTTP or HTTPS post but could also be part of the query string submitted to your URL.
After payment authentication, Mirrakey will generate the license key by calling the "GenerateKey" method using one or more of the relevant properties (ProductName, SerialNo & UserName) you have provided. The license key is then sent to the client (usually by email) where they enter the information into the Mirrakey License Manager form or a custom form you have created. If you choose to use the in-built License Manager form, you show the form by calling the "ShowLicenseKeyManager" method. The license information is then saved when the client enters the correct information and clicks the "Register" button on the License Manager form. The information is saved to an XML database and can be optionally encrypted.
With the license information saved on their computer, you can easily authenticate your software by providing the known license properties and calling the "ValidateKey" method, which will return true or false. Based on the return value, you can then choose the appropriate action. ie. prompt to purchase, show a nag screen, restrict features or whatever you deem is appropriate.
Using MirraKey for Software Activation
With a bit of programming imagination, Mirrakey can also be used to provide activation for your software. For example:
You can use Mirrakey to generate an Activation Code using a unique identifier from client's computer (such as the computer name, CPU ID etc.) and the License Key that was created when your software was purchased. This is done by using the same "GenerateKey" method after setting ActivationLicenseKey and ActivationUserID properties. The ActivationCode can then be added your license file using the AddActivationCode method making it easy to validate activation locally when your software starts or invokes specific features. As the Activation code is unique to a user or hardware specific parameter, copying the license file to another computer would invalidate the activation code. You can also increase security by setting the EncryptionKey property and encrypting the informaton stored in the XML license file.
So, in summary, after your software is purchased and the license key is added to the license file you can initiate the activation process. This will require sending the license key and user/pc identifier to your server where the Activation code is generated and returned to your software. When the activation code is received it is stored in the license file using the AddActivatonCode method. Each time your software starts, it is a simple matter with only a few lines of code to check that your software is licensed and activated.
The other factor you need to consider for implementing product activation is the possibility that the same valid License Key for your software may be registered more than once. The way to handle this is when the Activation Code is generated, you add the License Key to a database together with the unique user/pc ID, activation date and activation counter. With that information recorded, when the same License Key tries to be activated you can verify the unique user/pc ID to allow or reject activation. But you can also consider how many times you may allow activation for the same License Key, as well as whether to allow activation after a certain time period. This allows genuine clients to reactivate their software if they have purchased a new computer after the time period you are comfortable with.
Remember, Mirrakey is a powerful tool for software licensing and is only limited by your imagination.