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1  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: What are your experiences with payment providers? on: March 25, 2012, 02:29:42 PM
@wraith808 - I haven't contacted the directly but I have read several feature requests on the PayPal developer site referring to VAT support and Paypal have responded to some of them with a "we are not currently looking at offering this" kind of answer.

@mrainey - good to hear the you ar satisfied. I am going to look into what is possible with the CSS. It just feels a bit weird that they don't default to a nice looking neutral white (ala PayPal et al) payment page, instead they have a muddy-brown-grey default background.

@tomos & Carol Haynes
I could offer a VAT invoice/receipt manually which is something I do monthly for my regular consulting business (I have a company in Sweden). But the consulting work I do requires 1-4 invoices per month to other Swedish companies so the VAT aspect is trivial I charge it and pay it to the Swedish government and they then claim it back. But for e-commerce the situation becomes more complicated - there are five scenarios that I have to handle.

1. Non-VAT registered within the EU: Private person or registered company not requesting VAT-free purchase. I am required to add the Swedish VAT to what I charge and pay it to the Swedish tax-authority.
2. EU company claiming VAT-free purchase (valid VAT-nr): I am required to verify that they have a valid VAT-registration number then I should not add VAT - but in my accounting I need to add the VAT (separately) as if I had charged it and then get the VAT debt cancelled - since I never actually got that money I don't need to pay it to the tax-authority.
3. EU company claiming VAT-free purchase (invalid VAT-nr): If the VAT-nr does not check out, then I must add Swedish VAT and pay that to the tax-authority. The foreign company can then request a refund of the VAT from the swedish tax authority.
4. Swedish company: I am required to add the Swedish VAT to what I charge even if they request a VAT-free purchase with a valid EU-VAT number
5. Non EU company or person: I should not add VAT for sales to people or companies who are outside the EU. I believe that I do not need to add then deduct VAT in my accounting but I do need to hand in a quartely statement of how much I have sold outside the EU.

Even at very small volumes staying within the tax laws using a payment provider like Paypal with no support for checking VAT numbers etc where I have to issue different receipts for the same product depending on what I can find out manually is just out of the question. Or I could create my own automated PayPal VAT checking solution but that is just too much work considering there are other providers who handle this for me and then just send me a monthly statement with info I need for my book-keeping.
2  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: What are your experiences with payment providers? on: March 25, 2012, 09:20:44 AM
After trying to use PayPal as my initial provider, I would probably say that it is so much work that it isn't even worth it... The issue of not handling EU VAT is a major oversight by PayPal unless it's there and I just haven't found the right settings...

Thanks for the additional providers, had a look at a few of them.

Cleverbridge - they don't disclose pricing or allow you to sign-up without contacting a sales rep...

NorthStar solutions - offer self sign-up and a couple of demo pages to get a feel for it.

Plimus - their site looks real nice... Simple pricing structure.
3  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: What are your experiences with payment providers? on: March 25, 2012, 09:00:38 AM
I personally think a shopping cart is an unnecessary step for buying or donating to software. Once someone indicates that they want to offer you money they should be taken to the actual payment step with as few intervening pages/steps as possible. Both Paypal and FastSpring support going directly to a payment page through links, I believe that Kagi and Share-it also offer direct-to-purchase links.
4  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / What are your experiences with payment providers? on: March 25, 2012, 05:31:51 AM
I have been setting up accounts with several different payment providers so that I can charge for my .Net licensing solution (part of the NANY challenge for 2012)

So far I have signed up with PayPal (who hasn't), FastSpring, Kagi and Share-It. I have only had time to set things up with PayPal and FastSpring properly so far. These are some of my observations for those two and some initial reflections on Kagi.

PayPal
  • Very clunky tax handling which is not optimal for EU companies. I need to allow my clients to enter a VAT number and have the payment provider figure out what to do. PayPal doesn't seem to support that at all?
  • No tax support at all for subscriptions with PayPal - which basically makes this a no go for EU companies.
  • Possible affiliate support if you do split payments and set everything up yourself, which seems very difficult and error prone...
  • Supports instant payment notifications.
  • Nice clean professional payment user interface for end users, certain modification of the UI (logo etc) are possible.
  • Does not support coupon codes?
  • Does not have application integration (for selling/donating) directly within application, only via links to Paypal.
   

FastSpring
  • Automatic handling of taxes (inlcuding EU vat)
  • Supports subscriptions with taxes.
  • Does not support affiliates as far as I can see other than if you contact them direct to have split payment set up.
  • Supports instant payment notifications.
  • Not such an attractive user interface for end users when they purchase - input elements are too small for data (VAT nr for instance). Not so modern colors... Seems to support advanced modifications of the UI using custom css though.
  • Supports coupon codes and special offers in several different ways.
  • Allows purchase UI to be integrated directly into windows applications

Kagi - I have not set up a full product with Kagi yet but these are some initial observations.
  • Automatic handling of taxes (inlcuding EU vat)
  • Support for affiliates and partner splits also (as far as I can tell)
  • Supports instant payment notifications.
  • Haven't looked at the payment UI yet...
  • Allows purchase UI to be integrated directly into windows applications
About a week after I signed up for Kagi i received a strange email from what appears to be the Vice President of Sales at Kagi someone I had not been in touch with previously. The email simply contained "Are you going to use your Kagi store ?", no preamble, no contact info or name (only in the from field of the email), no indication as to what the objective of the email was. If you have been using Kagi is this indicative of their customer and seller support?

What are your experiences with these and other payment providers? Particularly I would be interested to hear what their customer support is like...
5  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Show us your (physical) desktop on: March 22, 2012, 06:44:50 AM
Not the most ergonomic space... Mostly I have been working from my client's offices or from cafés and so haven't had a work-space at home, this setup is new. It's a corner of my 6 year old daughters room (she has moved her bed into her borthers room) the screen is one I found in the basement (must be ten years old) and the Macbook is on a notebook stand.
[attachthumb=#]
6  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Show us the View Outside Your Window on: March 22, 2012, 06:36:36 AM
A step back from my makeshift desk (in my daughters room - the dolls house is perhaps a give-away). The view is from my flat near the center of Stockholm in Sweden.
[attachthumb=1]
7  Special User Sections / N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: NANY 2012 Release: Simple Software Licensing on: January 22, 2012, 03:02:19 AM
Thanks great feedback - yeah the prompt is a little/very unclear... And probably completely unnecessary, I think it should just save the new product version if it looks valid since the user just explicitly edited it - I will be changing that.

I am also going to add Netsparkle (or other updater) to the application to allow proper automatic updating of the binaries. That will make it very clear when there is a new version of the license manager available and what has been updated.


I've got some feedback.
...
"New Version detected, do you want to save it?"
...
I played around with the Manager some more and found out the dialog prompt in the first place was talking about the Product Version I entered in. Perhaps that dialog could be made clearer by saying something like "You added a new Product Version. Would you like to save these changes?"
...
8  Special User Sections / N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: NANY 2012 Release: Simple Software Licensing on: January 21, 2012, 10:57:26 AM
Wow. That's neat!

Two days ago an idea popped into my head for a licensing method and I started hacking away at it trying to create one (in mono). I'd guess I'm about halfway done with it now but I sure wish I had seen this first. Thmbsup

Nice work!

It's not too late to try this instead! I would actually be very interested in knowing if this works in Mono, it should do but you just never know...
9  Special User Sections / N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: NANY 2012 Release: Simple Software Licensing on: January 21, 2012, 10:55:05 AM
I have actually been looking at a solution for locking Excel files which would be possible to do with PDFs too, unfortunately Adobe require a $50,000 per year tellme DRM agreement if you add plugins to Adobe reader which restrict access to or encrypt PDFs... So I wont be implementing that anytime soon!

It would be of course be possible to implement the license as an executable file which then opened an embedded PDF - unfortunately you would have to open the pdf through the launcher each time to retain any kind of security. But it should work.

I will create a proof of concept to see what is possible!

@josant - Very nice product.

I was wondering if you ever considered combining the validator part with a wrapper for a document file.

Ideally, the manager could be a simple utility to drop something like a PDF into it and create a one off license. Then the PDF could be combined with a locked launcher. The document could then only be unlocked and launched the first time by the buyer using the provided license key.

After that however, it would just display a splash screen with an "Exclusively licensed to: {name} call-out which you'd need to click through every time you opened the actual document.

Might be nice too if the file required a reapplication of its license key if it ever got transferred to a different PC.

That could be a real boon to people who produce and sell licensed instructional materials. Would go a long way towards cutting down on casual license violations.

 smiley
10  Special User Sections / N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: NANY 2012 Release: Simple Software Licensing on: January 17, 2012, 11:05:18 AM
I have created a new web site for this product and updated the user interface (with a little help from others).

If anyone wants a special DonationCoder license please  thumbs up my site or page on facebook  Wink . Actually just send me a personal message through DonationCoder and I will issue you a special license which you can use with the application.

Feedback and feature requests are most welcome too.
11  Special User Sections / N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: FINAL: The Official WriteUp for the NANY 2012 Event! on: January 04, 2012, 08:28:25 PM
The whole NANY idea is great and participating has been a very positive experience. I will definitely try to participate again next year - but start work a little earlier!

Big thanks to the organizers and great work everyone who participated.
12  Special User Sections / N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: NANY 2012 Release: Simple Software Licensing on: January 04, 2012, 08:20:17 PM
Thanks! First time posting anything to Youtube.

I'll be adding more screencasts next week of validating licenses from code and generating licenses from code.
13  Special User Sections / N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: NANY 2012 Release: Simple Software Licensing on: January 04, 2012, 11:39:10 AM
I've posted a screencast demo on youtube:

License Manager Demo
14  Special User Sections / N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: NANY 2012 Release: Simple Software Licensing on: January 03, 2012, 04:08:04 PM
A Screencast of the application will be posted on the 4th of January.
15  Special User Sections / N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: NANY 2012 After-Deadline Release: Simple Software Licensing on: January 02, 2012, 10:02:51 AM
The first DonationCoder licensed version of this application has now been released.

I'll be creating a screencast of how to use this for simple licensing including validating license validity.
The version number will change to 1.0 before I do the screen cast but everything else will be the same...
16  Special User Sections / N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: NANY 2012 Late Pledge: Simple Software Licensing and Early Beta on: December 31, 2011, 04:05:22 PM
This will be a late release I am afraid. I have gone on a last minute New Years trip with my family and wasn't able to finish and upload the Donationcoder release of it before we left. I will push this out on Monday afternoon (GMT+1) I can also do a screen cast of how it works on Monday.

Sorry about the delay and Happy New Year to everyone!
17  Special User Sections / N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: NANY 2012 Late Pledge: Simple Software Licensing on: December 29, 2011, 05:55:23 PM
I have looked at the apis of Virtuemart, WorldPay & Authorize.net. Worldpay and Authorized.net seem to support transaction notifications which resemble the Paypal flow so developing integrations for these should be possible.

And thanks for your interest Oshyan!  cheesy
18  Special User Sections / N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: NANY 2012 Late Pledge: Simple Software Licensing on: December 29, 2011, 05:47:38 PM
Both Paypal and Mailchimp can post signup/purchase data to a web page. I am developing a sample .net web page which uses the license key/file generation to create a user specific license file (the license file is just plain text) based on the variables posted by paypal and mailchimp. The end user can save the file into the directory where the software is installed. Alternatively you could provide an input form inside the application for entering the details of the license and include the license details directly in the email. The settings for the license generation are exported from the license manager in a format that the license generation component can read.

I am planning to look at other integrations, but nothing in the pipe at the moment. Since each api posts different data, formatted in different ways I must choose integrations which are of greatest interest to users of the software... I have worked with Paypal and Mailchimp integration which is why they are out first. I would love to hear if there are more integrations which would be of interest in addition to Paypal, Mailchimp, Amazon payments, Kagi, Virtuemart, Worldpay, Authorize.net?
19  Special User Sections / N.A.N.Y. 2012 / NANY 2012 Release: Simple Software Licensing on: December 29, 2011, 04:05:25 PM
NANY 2012 Entry Information

Application Name Habanero Simple Software Licensing
Version 1.0.0 - Version 2 is available from the website.
Short DescriptionReally simple software licensing solution designed for microisv and freelance software developers
Official product page
Supported OSes Windows 7, Vista probably Windows XP...
Setup File Download these files to use the application. The latest version can always be downloaded from the official site.
[attachurl=12] 1.0.1 of the license manager
[attachurl=13] 1.0.0 of the license validation component
[attachurl=14] 1.0.0 of the license generation component

Paste the following license information into the license manager using the About menu item.
=====
Product: Habanero Simple Software Licensing, Free, 1.0.1
Serialnumber: bb158d3c-6f1e-455a-82ae-ad190ca96a98
Licensed to: DonationCoder
Valid until: 2012-06-30
5Y40HBB-EF05HJ-EC2TZ6Z-29HF1Q-BTTB72R-Y7JQ0P-76T27XA-X69WD7
=====
System Requirements.Net 4
Author InfoJoshua Anthony has been developing software professionally since the mid 1990s and before that as a hobby for many years on such wonderful platforms as the ZX Spectrum, C64, MSX and others!

Currently he runs his own MicroISV and consulting company developing primarily for Microsoft platforms using .Net but also dabbling in cutting edge mobile HTML5 apps and experimenting with PHP.

Some random ramblings and interesting software development tidbits can be found on his blog.

Just to avoid unnecessary flames - I am a strong believer in permissive licensing, creative commons and open source which is one reason why I have developed this. Most of the licensing solutions that I have found as a small scale developer are in my opinion too expensive, too restrictive, aren't secure enough and try to make the end users life (and the developers) more painful than it needs to be! This is an attempt to change all that!

DescriptionSoftware licensing is tough and if you have little or no experience with cryptography and securing enterprise software systems it is really tough! This solution is designed to provide a good-enough licensing setup to discourage accidental and casual copying of the software without making it difficult for your licensed users to move their licenses to new computers or having to reactivate after a system crash. This licensing solution is also designed to integrate easily with Paypal IPN and Mailchimp webhooks if you want to send out license info via email automatically.

This is actually a product that I am going to sell as part of my regular business, but I recently joined DonationCoder and the NANY 2012 challenge inspired me to try and push something out the door earlier than I had planned. I will also set up a special DonationCoder license in the spirit of the official DonationCoder license (free with periodic renewals, no details on that yet) when this is officially released.

More info about how I think this could be of use for software developers.
FeaturesMilitary Grade encyption/hashing algorithms
Named users with keys or anonymous serial/licenses
Optionally limit license validity
License generation can be automated and integrated with PayPal

More advanced features are on the drawing board but not being implemented yet...
ScreenshotsUpdated screen shots for version 1.0.1

[attachimg=15]
Basic GUI

The following screenshots are the old design but the functionality is the same.
[attachimg=7]
GUI with license file generated

[attachimg=3]
Sample license files
InstallationUnzip package and run exe file…
Using the applicationThere are three parts to the solution:
* the license manager is the part that you use to create serials and license files
* the licensing component is the part that your code uses to get information about the users license
* the license generator is used for generating licenses from code

More info on all the different components will be coming...
UninstallingDelete files...
Known IssuesNo software licensing solution can be 100% secure…
Reverse engineering of your software (not the licensing solution) is the most likely and easy attack vector.

I have plans for making this solution even more secure by allowing you to embed critical application data inside the license file which would make it much more difficult to crack your software, although nowhere near impossible.


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