For years I have used various third party applications to store serial numbers and other pertinent information on the applications installed on my Macs. Make no mistake, I have a lot of software on my machines, much of it for my own use and some of it for testing for the Macessence blog.
Third Party Apps
I cannot remember all the names of the software registration apps I have used over the years. I would have to say my favorite was LicenseKeeper. If LicenseKeeper was still being supported I would still be using it and you would not be reading this particular article. I have used other apps as well, but most of them just go away or are not supported very well. There are some applications like 1Password that have the capability of storing software info, but these types of apps do all kinds of different things in addition. I have always preferred a dedicated software license storage app to these jack of all trades applications.
Just recently I was having trouble with the application I was using to store software licenses. I was very frustrated. I put in an email to the app developer, but did not receive a response. So, I made the decision then and there to create my own program for storing software information using the software that I had on hand.
My App – Sort of
I am not an app developer. I wish I was, I would create my own Mac application. But, I do have a couple of database programs on hand. So, I decided to create my own database of software information and build a layout around that info that would be useable. Not a true application in it’s own right, but very doable.
Let me just say, these third party apps are all constructed pretty much in the same way. The list of software is in the left sidebar. When you click on an app it shows you a detail window to the right. There is usually another window or two for additional information. With this design motif in mind I made this layout (some of the info in the fields in blocked out for obvious reasons):
Not exactly fancy, but it works great. Lets review the layout by the numbers.
1. Add / Remove Buttons – Have to be able to add and remove records right?
2. Search – I can search the database. If you have a lot of software this is helpful.
3. Software List – This scrolls up and down, the current record is hilited.
4. Detail Window – Detail info on the app, this is a Tab Panel.
As you can see it is a fairly straight forward layout. I have had to enter a lot of this info manually, a bit tedious to say the least. Most of the software info apps supply this info for you as you add an application. But, once I get it all updated it will be easy to add or remove an application once in a while.
Besides the “Print” and “Sort” buttons there is another Tab called Attachments:
Typically, what I like to do and what most third party software offers is a way to store a software license document in the app. In my case, it is just usually an email with the licensing information in it in case you have to reference it at a later time. I am not finished implementing this feature yet, but when it is done there will either be a link to the document on my HD or a copy of it stored in the program itself.
Well, what do you think? When my current third party software registration app started acting up I did research to find another one. I found one or two, but they were pretty clunky. Half of the features they had I did not need. So, I am in the process of constructing my own layout. I can build it just like I want and as I mature in my knowledge of the database program I am using I can update the “App” as I go along.
At this point in time, although I am not finished making this layout yet, it is working well and meeting my needs. And, it is reliable!! No wonkiness, no issues, “it just works!”
There is a two-sided cost factor here. The cost in dollars to do this is $0. I already have the software to build this layout. However, the cost in time is fairly high as you can imagine. But, I really enjoy doing this and it forces me to learn my database applications which is a win as far as I am concerned.
I suppose you could do this with an app like Excel or Numbers. Maybe even just keep a list in a word processor. But, a dedicated database program is the only way to go for building and using data like this. So, if you are frustrated with the typical third party software information programs you might consider building your own.