Multi-user License Options File

What is an Option File, do I need one if I am using multi-user Licenses (Network Licenses) for my Autodesk software and what can I control?

Well in this blog I plan to answer these questions…

What Is An Option File?

An option file is a text document such as Notepad which is saved with the file extension OPT. OK there is a bit more to it than that but this is how we create the Options File.

By using Notepad and saving it with the file extension OPT, we create a blank options file. We can then open this file with Notepad again to add our options.

What Should We Start With?

First of all we might want to add text into the option file which doesn’t do anything but helps whoever is looking at the Options file.

We can do this by using # at the beginning of a line, for example we might have the following at the top of the file:

#Man and Machine Option File

#Last edited on 24/07/2021

#Lasted Edited by Mark Calloway

Using the # allows us to add comments about the Options File without altering the behaviour of the Option File. Any line that doesn’t start with a # will be seen as a command.

Adding Our First Command

Firstly we might want to control whether the Options File is case sensitive or not. For this we can use one of the following:

GROUPCASEINSENSITIVE ON

GROUPCASEINSENSITIVE OFF

I tend to have case sensitivity turned off then I’m not having to double check every username and computer name to make sure they where created correctly as you always get one computer or user missing a capital at the beginning of the name.

Creating Groups

We can create groups of users or computers and apply certain controls only to these groups. If we don’t create groups then any controls we create will be applied to anyone using a multi-user license.

There are two types of groups:

GROUP                  – this allows us to group by users

HOST_GROUP   – this allows us to group by computers

Once we have used the command for the appropriate type of group we can give that group a name, for example “USERGROUP1” which would look like this:

GROUP USERGROUP1

Once we have the type and name of group we just need to add the users or computers, for example:

GROUP USERGROUP1 RCLARKE JSMITH LTHOMPSON MCALLOWAY

We now have a user group with 4 users assigned, when creating controls we can now specify this group to apply them to.

Reserving Licenses

This allows us to reserve a specified number of license to a group, preventing anyone outside the specified group from using the reserved license.

For this we use the RESERVE command and it is formatted like this:

RESERVE [count] [productfeature] [type] [name]

For example:

RESERVE 1 59200ACD_T_F GROUP USERGROUP1

In this example we have reserved one seat from the AutoCAD license for anyone in the group USERGROUP1 to use.

Block Access to A License

We can block a specified user or group from being able to use a license.

This can be useful if you have a user who shouldn’t be using a license because there is limited seats but has a habit of using it anyway.

For this we can use the EXCLUDE command and it’s formatted like this:

EXCLUDE [productfeature] [type] [name]

Two examples might be something like this:

EXCLUDE 59200ACD_T_F MCALLOWAY

Or

EXCLUDE 59200ACD_T_F GROUP USERGROUP1

Including Access To A License

The result for this is similar to using the BLOCK command above however instead of specifying who to block we are now specifying only those who can access the license. This is useful if the list of users to block is long and the list of users who need access is short.

We can do this by using the INCLUDE command in the following format:

INCLUDE [productfeature] [type] [name]

An Example might look like this:

INCLUDE 59200ACD_T_F MCALLOWAY CSMITH

Additional Controls

Once we have setup users and groups and controlled the behaviours of accessing licenses we may need to apply other settings.

TIMEOUT [productfeature] [seconds]

TIMEOUTALL [seconds]

This allows us to specify in seconds how long a user can be inactive in their software before it will return the license. This can be useful if people have a habit of not closing their software when done. I usually recommend setting this as a minimum to the length of a working day, that way if they forget to close AutoCAD at the end of the day but are not in the next morning the license would have been returned overnight without the risk of it being returned during the day.

REPORTLOG [+]report_log_path

This allows us to specify a directory to save a report on license activity.

BORROW_LOWWATER [productfeature] [count]

This specifies the number of licenses which cannot be borrowed. For example if you have 5 licenses and set the low water at 3 then only two licenses can be borrowed meaning there are always 3 licenses left available.

MAX_BORROW_HOURS [productfeature] [hours]

This specifies a maximum number of hours a license can be borrowed for at any one time. This is useful to stop people borrowing for the year. If a computer becomes broken or stolen with a borrowed license there is no way to make it available again until it the borrow expires.

EXCLUDE_BORROW [productfeature] [type] [name]

This allows you to chose which licenses you want to lock from being borrowed by user, computer & groups.

INCLUDE_BORROW [productfeature] [type] [name]

This allows you to specify user, computer & group to be able to borrow a license.

Conclusion

Options Files are surprisingly under used for how easily they can be setup and how effective they are at removing a lot of common issues at controlling multi-user licenses.

As a minimum I would recommend using TIMEOUTALL & MAX_BORROW_HOURS

An Example of this would be as follows:

#Option file to limit unavailability of licenses

TIMEOUTALL 28800

MAX_BORROW_HOURS 730

Feel free to copy and paste the above into your own Options File