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Choosing the Correct Licensing Method for the NI Tools Network

RECOMMENDED - NI License Manager (NILM) 3rd Party SDK

NI recommends the NILM 3rd Party SDK as the licensing solution for new products submitted to the NI Tools Network. The SDK extends NI's own licensing technology to 3rd party products, and provides the same activation experience as NI software. The SDK features a run-time API, for licensing of applications, and tools to bind a LabVIEW library to a license file, for LabVIEW-based add-ons. A .NET version is also available for licensing non-LabVIEW code. Get started with the NILM 3rd Party SDK here.


NILM licensing allows customers to evaluate your product for a time period (in days) of your choosing. Customers can then purchase a license through NI and activate the product via the NI License Manager application. This process will look and feel the same as buying and activating NI software.


nilm example_redacted.png


Third Party Licensing and Activation Toolkit (TPLAT)

TPLAT provides functionality to license both applications and add-ons. Use the flow chart below to determine the components involved in licensing your particular product. We recommend using NI License Manager unless your product has non-standard licensing requirements. The NI License Manager SDK is free of charge. Advanced licensing with TPLAT requires additional purchases, and NI is no longer providing NEW standard licensing SOLO accounts.




Licensing a Library with TPLAT

A LabVIEW library is a set of VIs that extends the functionality of the LabVIEW editor, also referred to as an add-on. To license a Library, we recommend using NILM unless your licensing needs are non-standard. If you are licensing a LabVIEW library with TPLAT, it is possible to require each development workstation to have a license for your library before LabVIEW will load your library in the editor. At start-up time, LabVIEW will display a list of licensed libraries along with their status, similar to the dialog below:




Once a library is licensed on a development workstation, this user can export the code to a DLL, EXE, etc., and no additional licensing checks are performed (royalty-free run-time license).


TPLAT Standard Mode

NI is no longer providing complimentary NEW standard licensing SOLO accounts, but will continue to service existing accounts and support TPLAT. This option is for existing products and features a 30-day evaluation period, requiring online activation over the Internet, and a royalty-free run-time license.

  • Tutorial:  License a LabVIEW Library Using Standard Mode
  • LabVIEW Help Topic: Licensing a Development Add-on
  • Use: This licensing method is used for toolkits and can be accessed through the LabVIEW > Tools menu once TPLAT is installed.  You do not have control over customizing the license file and are limited to licenses with 30-day evaluation periods and automatic (over the web) activation.  This Tools menu utility will create a standard license file and bind it to the LabVIEW library file for your toolkit so any time a user opens one of your toolkit VIs the licensing check is performed in the LabVIEW Development Environment.
  • Requirements: LabVIEW 2010+, Third-Party Licensing and Activation Toolkit (TPLAT), SOLO Server account on NI hosted server.


TPLAT Advanced Mode 

If you would like more advanced licensing control of your library using TPLAT, the solution is TPLAT Advanced Mode coupled with the power of Protection PLUS 4 SDK (required purchase). When using Advanced Mode, you will have numerous options to customize your license parameters, including:

  • Custom evaluation periods
  • Hard evaluation date limits
  • Custom usage limits
  • Subscription-based licensing
  • Both online and offline/manual/telephone-based activation
  • Require every workstation to activate your library in addition to requiring activation of the library for use in the LabVIEW editor

You can then centrally manage your licenses using a SoftwareKey SOLO Server1 (additional purchase). 


Licensing an Application

Similar to licensing a library with TPLAT, licensing a LabVIEW application has both a standard and an advanced mode. Both approaches require purchasing a component of the SoftwareKey System. NI recommends the NI License Manager Third-Party SDK, available free of charge, to license applications which will be sold through National Instruments. Sales of a product licensed with the NI License Manager Third-Party SDK can only be fulfilled through National Instruments sales channel.


Instant Protection PLUS 3 (Windows)

Tapping into thousands of lines of licensing code is quick and easy work with Instant Protection PLUS 3. Akin to a paint-by-numbers set, the step-by-step guidance of the implementation wizard will have you on your way with little to no source code changes.

They allow you to protect 32-bit and 64-bit Windows executables via the easily accessible Instant Protection PLUS 3 API. You can customize your solution from a host of options representing the most commonly requested licensing needs.

Protection PLUS 5 SDK LabVIEW Edition (Windows, Linux, Mac OS X)

For the most complex licensing needs, use the Protection PLUS 5 SDK LabVIEW Edition! This is an addition to the SoftwareKey family of software licensing solutions. This solution consists of application programming interfaces (APIs) to give your development team complete control and flexibility over the licensing business logic and user interface. Your development team has a blank canvas and the APIs are their palette and paintbrush.

The new Protection PLUS 5 VIs make it easy to call and harness the power of the Protection PLUS 5 Native Edition library, including support for additional platforms (such as Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux — both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures) with the same API!


1 SoftwareKey SOLO Server is specifically designed to work with Protection PLUS 4 SDK and TPLAT for centralized management of your customer’s licenses. Together, they create the advanced solution that is the flagship of the SoftwareKey System. You get the most powerful overall solution driven by combined technologies: the speed of traditional software e-commerce, the hands-free automation of electronic license activation and management (ELA/ELM), and centralized controls to manage license enforcement. Any of the SOLO Server hosting options are available to you.


2 Note that although Protection PLUS 5 SDK is currently the latest version, both TPLAT Advanced Mode and TPLAT API require a full license of Protection PLUS SDK Version 4 from

Trusted Enthusiast Trusted Enthusiast
Trusted Enthusiast

I'm creating an Add-on for LabVIEW within which I want to be able to host a number of licenses, namely:

1. Trial - 30-day unrestricted access (free)

2. Basic - 365 day restricted access (free)

3. Full - 365 day unrestricted access (paid)

These three licenses need to be possible options in one LabVIEW Add-on toolkit such that initially it installs with the 30-day trial (1) to allow a user to get to know the toolkit, then automatically drops into the restricted license (2) unless they decide to pay for further unrestricted access (3).

I've also been following the tutorial PDF document here for licensing a library and it demonstrates how to create a license file and attach it to a library, but I can't see how to create and attach more than one license? I have the three listed above, and there may be more to come, that all need to be attached to the library simultaneously. How does one go about achieving that? How can I implement the flexibility to provide one purchaser with a 30 day trial and another a 60 day trial and another a 90 day full license etc? Can all this be accommodated by the SOLO and ProtectionPlus systems?

Thoric (CLA, CLED, CTD and LabVIEW Champion)

You can only attach 1 license to a library. You should only need one. Options are configured within the one license file.

You can configure the default behaviour to be #1. Then how you control the other modes is with issuing different activation codes. The codes unlock the different modes. You can issue an activation code vis telephone or (user initiated) over the web.

Trusted Enthusiast Trusted Enthusiast
Trusted Enthusiast

Thanks Michael, I did wonder if this was the case, but I just cannot see how each Option is configured in the SOLO system. I'm following the trial and have created two options under my trial product, but neither has a field for 'days' to declare for how long the license is valid. The only 'days' field I've seen so far is entered in the LFEdit tool which creates the single license file for the library - which in the trial is set to 30-days. I'm very confused

Thoric (CLA, CLED, CTD and LabVIEW Champion)

Trusted Enthusiast Trusted Enthusiast
Trusted Enthusiast

OK, so now I'm even more confused than ever - I'm defering this discussion to a Discussion post in order to prevent diverting the purpose of these comment fields.

Thoric (CLA, CLED, CTD and LabVIEW Champion)


Can we license LabVIEW Toolkits, Libraries and executables using Protection PLUS 5 Native SDK? If yes, does it involve TPLAT? 

Is there an example with detailed steps on how to license.


Also, if a toolkit is licensed using Protection PLUS 5 Native SDK , will it qualify to be submitted to LabVIEW Tools network?