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Using TurboActivate with Visual Basic .NET

Before you can do anything you need to login to your LimeLM account (or sign up). Then download TurboActivate for Windows on your API page. That file contains the TurboActivate.dll & TurboActivate.exe along with source code examples.

Adding licensing & online activation to your appTurboActivate.dat and Version GUID

After you've created a new product, go to the version page of the product you will be adding licensing to. You will need to do 2 things:

  1. Download the TurboActivate.dat file for the product version.
  2. Make a note of the Version GUID.

You'll be including the TurboActivate.dat file in the same folder as the TurboActivate.dll and TurboActivate.exe files and you'll use the Version GUID in your code as part of integrating TurboActivate within your app.

Example project

Included in TurboActivate.zip is a simple example project. The TurboActivate.vb file contains all the functions you'll be using to add licensing, online-activation, and trial functionality to your app.

Step-by-step walkthrough

Now we're going to walk you through each step you need to take in adding licensing, online activation, and timed-trials to your VB.NET app. There are lots of ways you can add licensing to your app, but there are 2 popular styles:

  1. Separate versions of your app. This style of licensing is where you build 2 versions of your product: a trial version and a full version.

  2. Hybrid version of your app. This style of licensing is where your product is the trial version or the full version depending on whether the user is activated.

The first method (the separate versions method) is possible with TurboActivate, but we're not going to talk about it here because it's not very user friendly. Instead we'll talk about making your app a hybrid Full/Trial app. That is, your users will be able to use your app in "trial mode" until either the trial expires or they purchase a product key and use it to activate your app.

Step 1. Signup for LimeLM, download TurboActivate

If you haven't already signed up for LimeLM then sign up now. All plans have a 30-day free trial. Or, if you're just putting your toes in the water, there's even a free plan that has no time limit and doesn't require a credit card.

After you've created your account, download TurboActivate and extract it anywhere. After you extract it you'll find 4 folders:

Step 2. Add TurboActivate to your project

Now you need to add TurboActivate to your app. Add "TurboActivate.vb" from the "VB.NET" project you extracted from the TurboActivate main package. You do this by right clicking your project in Visual Studio and clicking "Add -> Existing Items..." and browsing for the "TurboActivate.vb" file:

Adding existing files to VS

Next we'll copy "TurboActivate.exe" and "TurboActivate.dll" from the x86 folder we extracted. Put these files in both your project's "Debug" and "Release" folders.

Step 3 (option 1). Set the "Platform target" to x86

For VB.NET projects we recommend you set the "Target CPU" to x86. If you do this, your app will be able to run on both 32-bit and 64-bit machines without having to do complex installation scripts.

To set the target CPU to x86 first click the "Project -> [Project Name] Properties" menu in Visual Studio. Click the "Compile" tab on the right hand side. Click the "Advanced Compile Options..." button. Then choose x86 from the "Target CPU" dropdown:

Target CPU x86

Make sure you set this for both your "Release" and "Debug" configurations.

Step 3 (option 2). AnyCPU platform target

If instead of the x86 "Target CPU" you would rather choose AnyCPU then you need to make a few changes.

  1. The first thing you need to do add a "custom constant" TA_BOTH_DLL=TRUE (do this for both Debug and Release builds).

  2. Next, include both the x86 and x64 versions of TurboActivate with your binaries. So copy the TurboActivate.dll from the x86 folder and put it in the Debug & Release folders. In the x64 folder rename TurboActivate.dll to "TurboActivate64.dll", and then copy that file to both your Debug & Release folders.

  3. Lastly, if you're using the TurboActivate Wizard you need to copy the TurboActivate.exe file from the "x86" folder so that the wizard will be able to run on both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows.

Step 4. Create a new product in LimeLM

If you haven't already created a new product in LimeLM, do it now. You can change any value later, so don't worry about making a mistake.

Adding your first product to LimeLM

Step 5. Download TurboActivate.datTurboActivate.dat and Version GUID

Go to your version page in LimeLM. Download the "TurboActivate.dat" file. Now copy this file to your app's "Release" and "Debug" folders.

Step 6. Creating the TurboActivate instance

Now, inside your app, you need to create a new TurboActivate object with the Version GUID found on the same page you downloaded the TurboActivate.dat from. In the example app we define the "ta" variable in the "main form" class, and then create the TurboActivate object in the form's constructor:

Public Class Form1

    Private ta As TurboActivate

    Public Sub New()
        InitializeComponent()

        Try
            'TODO: goto the version page at LimeLM and
            ' paste this GUID here
            ta = New TurboActivate("Paste GUID Here")

			' ...

Replace the "Paste GUID Here" string with the Version GUID string your copied from your version page.

Step 7. Checking if the customer is genuinely activated

There are many ways you can use TurboActivate to add licensing to your application. For this example we're going to keep it simple.

Scroll up to your form constructor code and add a "Boolean" "isGenuine" variable to save whether the customer is activated and genuine. And then it's simply a matter of making a call to IsGenuine() to see if the user is activated and to re-verify the activation with the LimeLM servers every 90 days, with a 14 day grace period:

Private ta As TurboActivate
Private isGenuine As Boolean

' Don't use 0 for either of these values.
' We recommend 90, 14. But if you want to lower the values
' we don't recommend going below 7 days for each value.
' Anything lower and you're just punishing legit users.
Private Const DaysBetweenChecks As UInteger = 90
Private Const GracePeriodLength As UInteger = 14

Public Sub New()
    InitializeComponent()

    Try
        'TODO: goto the version page at LimeLM and paste this GUID here
        ta = New TurboActivate("Paste GUID Here")

        ' Check if we're activated, and every 90 days verify it with the activation servers
        ' In this example we won't show an error if the activation was done offline
        ' (see the 3rd parameter of the IsGenuine() function)
        ' https://wyday.com/limelm/help/offline-activation/
        Dim gr As IsGenuineResult = ta.IsGenuine(DaysBetweenChecks, GracePeriodLength, True)

        isGenuine = (gr = IsGenuineResult.Genuine _
                     OrElse gr = IsGenuineResult.GenuineFeaturesChanged _
                     OrElse gr = IsGenuineResult.InternetError)
                     ' an internet error means the user is activated but
                     ' TurboActivate failed to contact the LimeLM servers



        ' If IsGenuineEx() is telling us we're not activated
        ' but the IsActivated() function is telling us that the activation
        ' data on the computer is valid (i.e. the crypto-signed-fingerprint matches the computer)
        ' then that means that the customer has passed the grace period and they must re-verify
        ' with the servers to continue to use your app.

        'Note: DO NOT allow the customer to just continue to use your app indefinitely with absolutely
        '      no reverification with the servers. If you want to do that then don't use IsGenuine() or
        '      IsGenuineEx() at all -- just use IsActivated().
		If Not isGenuine AndAlso ta.IsActivated() Then

            ' We're treating the customer as is if they aren't activated, so they can't use your app.

            ' However, we show them a dialog where they can reverify with the servers immediately.

			Dim frmReverify As ReVerifyNow = New ReVerifyNow(ta, DaysBetweenChecks, GracePeriodLength)

			If frmReverify.ShowDialog(Me) = DialogResult.OK Then
				isGenuine = True
			Else If Not frmReverify.noLongerActivated Then ' the user clicked cancel and the user is still activated

                ' Just bail out of your app
				Application.[Exit]()
                Return
			End If
		End If

    Catch ex As TurboActivateException
        ' failed to check if activated, meaning the customer screwed
        ' something up so kill the app immediately
        MessageBox.Show("Failed to check if activated: " + ex.Message)
        Application.[Exit]()
        Return
    End Try

    ' Show a trial if we're not genuine
    ' See step 9, below.
    ShowTrial(Not isGenuine)
End Sub

This is a complete example showing how to check if the customer is genuinely activated, and how to handle the error cases. While it's longer than "toy" licensing solutions, it's built for the real world.

The code does the following:

  1. It creates the new TurboActivate instance with your Version GUID.

  2. Checks if the customer is activated and re-verifies with the servers every 90 days (with a 14-day grace period).

  3. And if IsGenuine(x, y, z) tells you the customer is not genuine then you can use IsActivated() to determine if they're "not genuine" because they were never activated or if it's because the customer has gone more than DaysBetweenChecks + GracePeriodLength days since re-verifying with the activation servers.

  4. And if it's a case where the customer must re-verify with the activation servers, then show a form that lets them do that (also included in the example project).

Step 8. Prompting for the user's product key

If the user has never activated, or if they've since deactivated, then you'll need to prompt the user to enter their product key. You can do this a couple of ways, in this example we'll just use the TurboActivate Wizard to prompt the customer to enter their product key.

The first thing you need to do is a new Activate/Deactivate menu to your form. You can name it anything you want — in this example we call it mnuActDeact:

Add Activate/Deactivate menu to your app

After you've created the menu item, changed the name to mnuActDeact in the properties window, click the little lightning bolt, then double click the "Click" event and Visual Studio will automatically generate the event code for you:

Activate menu click event

Now we need to handle when the user clicks the Activate/Deactivate menu that you created. Scroll down to the "mnuActDeact_Click" function that Visual Studio generated for you. You can add code to Deactivate if the user is activated, or launch TurboActivate.exe if the user isn't activated:

Private Sub mnuActDeact_Click(ByVal sender As System.Object, ByVal e As System.EventArgs) Handles mnuActDeact.Click
    If isGenuine Then
        ' deactivate product without deleting the product key
        ' allows the user to easily reactivate
        Try
            ta.Deactivate(False)
        Catch ex As TurboActivateException
            MessageBox.Show("Failed to deactivate: " + ex.Message)
            Return
        End Try

        isGenuine = False
        ShowTrial(True)
    Else
        'Note: you can launch the TurboActivate wizard or you can create you own interface

        'launch TurboActivate.exe to get the product key from the user
        Dim TAProcess As New Process
        TAProcess.StartInfo.FileName = Path.Combine(Path.GetDirectoryName(Application.ExecutablePath), "TurboActivate.exe")
        TAProcess.EnableRaisingEvents = True

        AddHandler TAProcess.Exited, New EventHandler(AddressOf p_Exited)
        TAProcess.Start()
    End If

End Sub

''' This event handler is called when TurboActivate.exe closes.
Private Sub p_Exited(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As EventArgs)

    ' remove the event
    RemoveHandler DirectCast(sender, Process).Exited, New EventHandler(AddressOf p_Exited)

    ' the UI thread is running asynchronous to TurboActivate closing
    ' that's why we can't call TAIsActivated(); directly
    Invoke(New IsActivatedDelegate(AddressOf CheckIfActivated))
End Sub

Private Delegate Sub IsActivatedDelegate()

''' Rechecks if we're activated -- if so enable the app features.
Private Sub CheckIfActivated()
    ' recheck if activated
    Dim isNowActivated As Boolean = False

    Try
        isNowActivated = ta.IsActivated
    Catch ex As TurboActivateException
        MessageBox.Show("Failed to check if activated: " + ex.Message)
        Exit Sub
    End Try

    If isNowActivated Then
        isGenuine = True
        ReEnableAppFeatures()
        ShowTrial(False)
    End If
End Sub

Step 9. Adding trial functionality

In other parts of this exampel you've seen references to a ShowTrial() function. This is a function that you'll need to create to add trial functionality to your app. In this example we're going to use verified trials (because they are accurate, fast, and allows you to track conversion of customers).

The first step is to actually tell TurboActivate you'll be using verified trials. Create a trialFlags at the top of your main form that will store this information:

Private ta As TurboActivate
Private isGenuine As Boolean

' Set the trial flags you want to use. Here we've selected that the
' trial data should be stored system-wide (TA_SYSTEM) and that we should
' use un-resetable verified trials (TA_VERIFIED_TRIAL).
Private trialFlags As TA_Flags = TA_Flags.TA_SYSTEM Or TA_Flags.TA_VERIFIED_TRIAL

' Don't use 0 for either of these values.
' We recommend 90, 14. But if you want to lower the values
' we don't recommend going below 7 days for each value.
' Anything lower and you're just punishing legit users.
Private Const DaysBetweenChecks As UInteger = 90
Private Const GracePeriodLength As UInteger = 14

Public Sub New()
    InitializeComponent()

    ' ...
End Sub

Now we have to make a few functions:

  1. ShowTrial(bool show)

  2. DisableAppFeatures()

  3. ReEnableAppFeatures()

In the ShowTrial method you can show how many trial days remain for the user. You can open the VB.NET example from TurboActivate.zip if you want to see a full example. Here we'll set the activate menu text to either "Activate" or "Deactivate" and will disable the app features if there are no more trial days remaining:

Private Sub ShowTrial(ByVal show As Boolean)
    lblTrialMessage.Visible = show
    btnExtendTrial.Visible = show

    mnuActDeact.Text = (If(show, "Activate...", "Deactivate"))

    If show Then
        Dim trialDaysRemaining As UInteger = 0UI

        Try
            ta.UseTrial(trialFlags)

            ' get the number of remaining trial days
            trialDaysRemaining = ta.TrialDaysRemaining(trialFlags)
        Catch ex As TurboActivateException
            MessageBox.Show("Failed to start the trial: " + ex.Message)
        End Try

        ' if no more trial days then disable all app features
        If trialDaysRemaining = 0 Then
            DisableAppFeatures()
        Else
            lblTrialMessage.Text = "Your trial expires in " & trialDaysRemaining & " days."
        End If
    End If
End Sub

Now you can add the functions to your code to disable and enable your application features:

Private Sub DisableAppFeatures()
    'TODO: disable all the features of the program
End Sub

Private Sub ReEnableAppFeatures()
    'TODO: re-enable all the features of the program
End Sub

In the example VB.NET project the app "feature" we enable/disable is the text box. Obviously you need to tailor this to your specific application.

Now that we have the foundation set we can actually start calling these functions. Scroll back up to the form's constructor and add the call to the ShowTrial() function:

Public Sub New()
    InitializeComponent()

    Try
        ta = New TurboActivate("Paste GUID Here")

        ' ... IsGenuine() code from above goes here

    Catch ex As TurboActivateException
        ' Handle exception
    End Try

    ShowTrial(Not isGenuine)
End Sub