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Ask HN: What license key service do you use for your product?
11 points by gcatalfamo 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 9 comments
I want to generete a license key for the customers who buy my product after they purchase (e.g. with stripe or paypal).

I don't want to reinvent the wheel, is there a SaaS or similar I could use for key generation and management?

This is especially important because the product is an App Script add-on, so everything "administrative" that has to be built on purpose is a distraction...

I did some research on this and didn't find anything that fit my needs. I need to generate licenses for software that's running in Docker containers. I finally decided to roll my own.

The whole thing is basically a database, simple front end, and a bit of code that generates a license key. The license is basically a signed/encoded string which my software can parse and validate. The user buys the license string, they feed it to my software as a config parameter and the software verifies the signature and validates it in various ways. Job done.

If there's any demand for something like this I'm willing to productize the whole thing.

There is already https://www.vaultproject.io/

Pinging ezekg with his startup https://keygen.sh

Hey, thanks for the ping! Keygen (https://keygen.sh) is an developer-focused API that handles user management, licenses and helps you track things like devices, etc. It integrates easily with Stripe and other payment providers using webhooks. I just launched a new feature this month that handles licensed software distribution as well. :)

I haven't tried it but Gumroad looked promising. They deal with payments and subscriptions, each sale generates an email to the customer containing a license key and you just make a simple HTTP API call (e.g. via JavaScript or whatever) in your app to verify a license key is still valid. I had a look at several other similar services but couldn't find a simple one that didn't require you to run some kind of server yourself.

Yes I was also looking into gumroad and sendowl, trying to understand which would fit my needs more.

So from memory...API calls to SendOwl requires a secret to be sent and each IP can only do an API call once per second. For desktop apps for example, you'd need to create some kind of server of your own to keep the secret hidden and perform rate limiting.

Gumroad seemed super simple in comparison. I was concerned about it being a relatively young company and some stories about all sales being refunded because of too many suspicious transactions though (I'm guessing this is rare). Worst case you could export all your license keys + user emails and transition to another service. It's really quick to try out as well as you can make test purchases and just use "curl" calls to verify licenses.

Other ones to look at are Sellfy, FastSpring and Paddle. Paddle told me that for subscription checks I'd need to maintain my own database + server for that. Gumroad looked the easiest by a long way.

Have you considered other services? I'd be interested to know what you found. I'm with you that you don't want to be implementing this yourself. Not having to worry about bugs in your payment processing code is likely well worth the cost.

In case your software’s written in Java you could use License4J: https://www.license4j.com

It’s not a SaaS but rather an on-premise solution, which can be an advantage depending on your infrastructure.

There was a product called LimeLM that was quite popular a few years ago. The creator was active on the old Joel on software forums. Last I checked it had been sold to Oracle. Sais la vie and all.

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