tyFlow PRO floating license

A tyFlow PRO floating license is a license which allows a tyFlow License Server to activate machines with tyFlow PRO, across a network. The number of machines which may simultaneously share a tyFlow PRO license sent from a tyFlow License Server is equal to the number of floating license seats that are purchased (for example, if 5 seats are purchased, then 5 machines may receive a tyFlow PRO license from a tyFlow License Server at one time. If more than 5 machines were to request a license seat in that example, they would be denied a license until a seat is released from the first 5 machines).

Activating/deactivating/upgrading a tyFlow PRO floating license on a tyFlow License Server requires an internet connection during the initial activation phase (ie, the first time a license key is activated for a particular version of the server), but once that first activation phase is complete, an internet connection is not required in order for machines on the same network to request floating license seats from the server. That means a floating license setup is suitable for private networks that do not normally have public internet access.

Is a floating license right for you?

The main benefit to using a floating license with a tyFlow License Server instead of a node-locked license inside 3ds Max, is that machines will automatically return their floating license seats to the tyFlow License Server when tyFlow is not in use - resulting in a smooth, automatic license migration process between multiple machines.

Consider the following two scenarios:

Scenario 1

  • Two machines (machine A and B) with one node-locked license: when machine A requires tyFlow PRO features, the node-locked license must be manually activated on machine A. Then, once machine A is finished using tyFlow PRO features, the license must be manually deactivated on machine A and then manually activated on machine B in order for machine B to use tyFlow PRO features. The process must be repeated in order for machine A to use tyFlow PRO features again. In a situation with few node-locked licenses and many different users who wish to use tyFlow PRO features at different times, this can be a slow and tedious process.

Node-locked licenses are ideal for situations where regular license migrations aren’t required - ie, situations where the number of licenses purchased is equal to the number of machines using tyFlow PRO features.

Scenario 2

  • Two machines (machine A and B) with one floating license: when machine A requires tyFlow PRO features, their machine automatically requests a seat from a tyFlow License Server. If a seat is free, it is granted to machine A. When machine A stops using tyFlow PRO features (by closing 3ds Max, resetting their scene file, etc), their seat is automatically returned to the tyFlow License Server, and can then be immediately (and automatically) granted to machine B.

Floating licenses are ideal for situations where regular license migrations need to occur - ie, situations where the number of licenses purchased is less than the number of machines using tyFlow PRO features.

It’s important to remember that in both scenarios, a single node-locked license or floating license seat cannot be used on multiple machines at the same time. Multiple node-locked licenses must be purchased in order to activate multiple machines simultaneously, and the same goes for floating license seats.


tyFlow License Server

The tyFlow License Server is a simple application used to distribute floating license seats to different machines on a network. The network can either be a local area network, or a public network accessible through the internet (providing that you configure your firewall/router to properly open and forward the tyFlow License Server’s connection port). The general idea is that you have a single tyFlow License Server running somewhere on your network, activated with a tyFlow PRO floating license key, and then you have any number of machines connected to the network which may request and release floating license seats from the tyFlow License Server.

Installation

tyFlow License Server installation instructions are *here**, although the process only involves a single step: opening/running the bundled executable file.

Configuration

You can configure a tyFlow License Server by choosing “Settings” from the tyFlow License Server’s main menu. That is where you can specify the tyFlow PRO floating license key you wish to activate, the connection port, etc. Then, for each machine that should connect to the server, you can choose one of the following configuration methods:

  • On each connecting machine: open 3ds max, create a tyFlow object and in the License rollout specify the tyFlow License Server’s network address and port.

or

  • On each connecting machine: create the file: C:\ProgramData\tyFlow\tyFlow.cfg and fill it with the following values (where ‘address:port’ is replaced with your tyFlow License Server’s network address and input connection port):

LICENSE_TYPE=floating
LICENSE_SERVER=address:port

By remotely deploying a tyFlow.cfg file like that to multiple machines, you can easily configure machines on a network to connect to a tyFlow License Server without having to manually configure each machine individually within 3ds Max.

The address portion of address:host can be “localhost” for servers running on the same machine that will connect to it, a LAN IP (ex: “192.168.0.6”) for servers only accepting private network connections, or an internet IP (ex: “33.44.55.66”) for servers behind a router/firewall configured to allow incoming connections from the public internet. A server’s LAN IP can be found in the Network and Sharing Center of Windows (click on the LAN connection, choose ‘Details’ and it’s the IPv4 Address). A server’s internet IP can by found by googling “what is my IP” on the server.

Heart beats

Machines that have been granted a tyFlow PRO license seat by a tyFlow License Server will send regular “heart beats” to the server. These are small messages which let the server know that the machine is still using a seat, and which let the machine know that the server is still online. If a machine stops sending a heart beat, the server assumes the machine is no longer using the seat and it will free the seat for reuse after a short timeout period (90 seconds). This prevents seats from being held by machines which did not properly release the seat during shut down (ie, the 3ds Max process either crashed or was killed). This also means that a machine must remain connected to its tyFlow License Server while using a license seat (if a machine becomes disconnected from its tyFlow License Server for too long, it will lose its seat and revert to tyFlow FREE mode).

Revoking a license

If a machine has been granted a tyFlow PRO license seat by a tyFlow License Server, its license seat can be manually revoked by the server (by selecting the machine’s name in the connected client list on the server, and clicking the “Revoke” button). Revoking a seat will immediately free it so that it can be used by another machine. A machine whose license seat has been revoked will undergo a short timeout period, during which its requests for another license seat will be denied.

Web Interface

The tyFlow License Server also has a simple web interface which can be enabled and used to connect to the server and view its status, using a web browser on any machine that can connect to it (the same rules apply about opening/forwarding ports if you wish to connect to the web interface over the internet). The web interface address is similar to the client connection address listed above, because it takes the form “address:port”, with the only different being that the “port” is the regular server connection port plus 1 (for example, if the server is configured to accept connections on port 5005, the web interface will be 5006).

If you enable a tyFlow License Server’s web interface (and configure your firewall/router to allow connections over the internet), it is highly recommended that you also enable its access PIN. If an incorrect PIN is entered more than 15 times, further attempts from the unauthorized user’s IP address will be blocked. This is a simple security measure to ensure only authorized users are able to connect to the tyFlow License Server over the internet. If need be, the unauthorized user block list can be cleared from the server UI.

Activating and deactivating a tyFlow PRO floating license

Activating and deactivating a tyFlow PRO floating license on a tyFlow License Server requires an internet connection at the initial time of activation/deactivation. After first activation, no further internet access is required in order to keep the same license activated on a machine. This means that an activated tyFlow License Server does not require an internet connection to continue to provide seats to machines on a private network. If you restart the server after activating online, it will still be able to validate its license next time it starts without an internet connection so long as the license file has not been modified and the system’s hardware has not changed.

Once you purchase a tyFlow PRO floating license, you will receive your license key by email within a few minutes. Once you receive your key, you can activate tyFlow PRO on your machine by launching the tyFlow License Server, and entering your license key in the “Settings” window. You can deactivate a license by choosing Tools > Deactivate.

The tyFlow License Server “Settings” window has options for setting up a proxy server, if one is required for your machine’s internet connection.

Upgrading to a new version of tyFlow

If you upgrade to a new version of tyFlow, you must also upgrade your tyFlow License Server. Since the tyFlow License Server executable file is bundled with the tyFlow DLO files, this process is simple - simply close any running instance of the tyFlow License Server, overwrite the existing executable file with the new one, and then re-launch the tyFlow License Server.

Once you upgrade your version of the tyFlow License Server, reactivation of an existing tyFlow PRO floating license will occur when the tyFlow License Server launches. After reactivation finishes, connecting machines will be able to request floating license seats immediately. As with normal activation, the upgrade process requires an internet connection.

Running the tyFlow License Server as a Windows service

The tyFlow License Server can be run as a Windows service. Windows services have no GUI, but can load with Windows prior to desktop initialization. This allows you to run the server on a machine without needing to log in first. To install the server as a service, open the server and choose Tools > Service > Install as service, then choose Tools > Service > Start service. You can uninstall the service by choosing Tools > Service > Uninstall service. You can stop the service by either killing the tyFlow_licenseServer.exe process in the Windows task manager, or by manually stopping the service in the Windows Services control panel (note: you may get a “pipe has ended” error when manually stopping the service. This error can be ignored).