License and Website Changes for Visual Assist

You’ve spoken, and we’ve listened! Our recent website and license migration failed to deliver the high quality experience you deserve.

Recently, Whole Tomato migrated our website to a new backend technology and a much needed new license technology for Visual Assist. There have been some hiccups, and some of the changes to licensing resulted in delays sending licenses to customers, and concerns expressed to us. We’ve heard you. In this post we’d like to cover what changed and why for both the website and licenses, as well as what steps we are taking to address concerns.

Whole Tomato Website

We migrated the main Whole Tomato website, wholetomato.com, to the same backend used by other Idera websites. This retained all existing content and ensured our web team only needs to maintain one server stack.

During this content migration, there were a few changes. The most significant is that when you download a trial or a new build, you are asked for information about yourself: name, email, address, and so forth. For a trial, we believe this is ok – it is standard business practice to know who is trying out our software and allows us to  follow up in the future. You can opt out of all marketing communications from Whole Tomato here. Your confirmation email also includes instructions for opting out, plus our privacy policy also has a link (section 14, Unsubscribe.)

However, there is no reason to ask for licensed customers’ information again when downloading a new build of Visual Assist for which you are already validly licensed. This has been pointed out to us, sometimes quite vocally, both through support and online. We hear you. The website no longer requires customers to enter personal information to download new builds.

The new website should also be more stable and faster.

License Technology

At the same time, we also changed the technology used to generate and validate license serial numbers for Visual Assist. Once again, this is to ensure a single technology is used across multiple products. It’s also a benefit for you because this licensing technology reduces uncertainty about licensed usage and decreases over deployment compliance issues, which is something that many large customers request. No one wants to be in a situation where audits are necessary – you don’t, and we don’t.

It’s a great goal, but customers have reported two issues: delays in generating new serial numbers after purchase and concerns about individual registration data, even for large volume serial numbers.

Let’s look at the current license options available, and changes we plan to introduce in the future.

Current License Options

When you purchase a Visual Assist license, you have the following options:

  • As an individual:
    • You purchase and get a serial number. You need a user account (see below) on our website, and your serial number is registered against that account. You can use this serial number on multiple VMs, so long as the serial number is used only by the same person.
  • As a company:
    • You purchase and get a serial number, one per developer. Just as for individuals above, each serial number must be registered against a developer’s EDN account. Each developer can use it on multiple VMs.
    • You purchase a multi-user serial number. This is a single number that is valid for multiple people. Just as for normal serials, when any individual developer installs and registers Visual Assist, they will need their own user account. Each developer can use it on multiple VMs.

There are also some temporary options that you may have seen if you encountered issues: a manually generated legacy serial number using the old license system, and an eSlip file, which is a single license file shared for a team but requiring an internet connection. We’ve used these for limited cases when none of the above licenses work for a team due to technical reasons.

The licensing changes are new to us too, and we may not have clearly explained them when you purchased or contacted Support.

User Accounts

What is a user account? User accounts provide a single licensing account across all Idera-owned products. Create yours here, and then use those login credentials when registering your license.

Registering Visual Assist. Enter your serial number at the top, and use the email and password for your Idera user account below
Registering Visual Assist. Enter your serial number at the top, and use the email and password for your Idera user account below

Right now, the webpage is not ideal, and we’ve had some feedback about that too. More on what will change there below.

Licenses In The Future

The majority of issues we’ve seen have been to do with a missing use case: a team with multiple developers who either wish to not register individually or need to use the license in a disconnected environment. We believe it’s reasonable for personal or individual users to register via an account, but we understand it’s a barrier for some larger teams.

Within the next week, we are adding a new license option to address this scenario. If you are a large company with many developers, or you operate disconnected from the net, you will be able to purchase a network named user license. This is a single license shared by the whole team. Individuals can use it on multiple VMs. No internet connection is required: instead, you run a license server on your internal network, which manages all verification without contacting us.

You’ll be given this license option if you purchase Visual Assist for a team of five or more, or by request to our sales / licensing team.

Running a license server may not be ideal for some teams with strict IT requirements. If your team is unable to use this option, you can always contact our sales or license teams to discuss some other options we can make available.

This retires eSlip licenses (except through licensing support requests) and legacy serial numbers, leaving three license options:

  1. Personal use, or multiple individual developers: individual serial numbers, registered for each developer through your user account.
  2. Multiple individual developers in a small team: a multi-user serial number, registered for each developer through your user account.
  3. Multiple individual developers in a large team, or by request for small teams: a network named user license, with no registration or internet access required.

We also expect the speed of license generation to be faster at the same time we introduce this new option. Note our staff don’t work weekends, so if you order on a Friday, you may not get your serial number until Monday. Orders during the week should be next-day or sooner, and we aim to process each one within a few hours.

License support requests are also now handled by a dedicated team with experience with this license technology. That means they are familiar with the issues you may encounter and should be able to speedily resolve them. They have a dedicated email address: licenses@wholetomato.com. (You can email this directly. If you contact normal support, your email will also be forwarded to and handled by the dedicated license team.)

In addition, we are replacing the user account website, with a planned launch date in early July. This is a brand new version of the user account website, built in Ext JS, where you will be able to create an account and view all your registered products and serial numbers. It will be quite minimal, clean, fast, and should be a lot clearer to use than the current website.

Preview of the new user account website - not yet launched! - showing products, serials, subscription status, and a separate pane for quick downloads
Preview of the new user account website – not yet launched! – showing products, serials, subscription status, and a separate pane for quick downloads

Overview

In short:

  • We rolled out a new website and new license system, and neither was quite perfect
  • You will not need to enter personal information to download your licensed software
  • The license system and where and how to use your account may not have been well explained, and we hope the above makes it clearer
  • We’re introducing a new license option, Network Named User License, that works better for large teams and teams who work offline
  • If you have issues or requests, we now have a dedicated license support team: please email licenses@wholetomato.com
  • Our new user account website will have a clean UI and provide an easy site to view your products and licenses

Idera is a developer-focused company. We do listen, and we make changes if needed. We hope the above is easy to understand and use, and the changes we’re making solve your concerns.

Changes to our renewal policy

Whole Tomato prides ourselves on our ability to support continued development of our product.  To that end, we revised our renewal policy for Standard licenses to ensure that customers are able to benefit from ongoing development of Visual Assist. Encouraging customers to leverage maintenance increases the productivity of developers by making new features at their disposal and increases resources that allow us to keep up with releases of Microsoft Visual Studio.  This change in policy does not impact Academic or Personal licenses.

Customers who have been off maintenance less than a year can request a quote to restart maintenance the date of purchase. Term will be for a full year. Cost to renew is $119 per user. This offer expires March 12th, 2019.

After March 12, 2019, customers who have been off maintenance less than a year can request a quote for maintenance. Term will be for a year beginning the date their prior maintenance expired.

Customers who have been off maintenance for more than one year should contact us for a customized quote.

Visual Assist evolves frequently and significantly.  If you’re after new features, ever-improving usability, increased performance and the latest innovations, staying current on maintenance allows you to get access to all updates to Visual Assist.

World Class Support

You’ll receive our world class support for the term of your maintenance period.  Our support team consists of experts at troubleshooting, problem diagnosis, and problem resolution.  A maintenance and support contract includes front-of-the-line technical assistance via email, website and discussion forums.

Peace of mind

Your team depends on Visual Assist for day-to-day activities and having a guaranteed direct line of contact to a committed support team offers that peace of mind. Renewing ensures that the privileges of software maintenance and your day is uninterrupted.

Privacy Policy Updated

We updated our privacy policy per the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations (“GDPR”) which went into effect today, May 25th, 2018. While the GDPR is a European law, we clarified and applied our privacy policy to everyone, independent of location.

Our updated privacy policy is more specific with regard to the information we collect, how we use the information, how we share the information, and your rights to the information.

If you visit www.wholetomato.com or forums.wholetomato.com on or after May 25, 2018, you are agreeing to the terms of our updated privacy policy.

You do not need to take any action.

Visit us at GDC 2018 in San Francisco

Whole Tomato Software will exhibit at the Game Developer Conference this week, March 21-23, in San Francisco. If you attend the expo, stop by booth 123 to see the latest features in Visual Assist, share your wishes for the product, and pick up some nifty swag.

December 12th update resolves another Visual Studio crash

If you follow news from Whole Tomato, you know that Microsoft released several builds of Windows 10 with bugs that caused Visual Studio to crash when Visual Assist was installed. More recently, Microsoft introduced a change in Visual Studio 2017 15.5 that causes the Code Inspection feature of Visual Assist to crash.

If you use Visual Studio 2017 and updated to 15.5, disable Code Inspection in the options dialog of Visual Assist. The next build of Visual Assist will include a fix that will let you re-enable the feature.

If you run Windows 10 Version 1709 (Fall Creators Update), your installation of Windows 10 must be up to date in order to use Visual Assist. Microsoft’s December 12th update to OS Build 16299.125 includes a required fix for a CreateWindowEx() failure.

If you run Windows 10 Version 1703 and deferred installation of the Fall Creators Update, you are free to un-pause Windows Update and upgrade to 1709.

If you prefer to remain with Windows 10 Version 1703, you must run at least OS Build 15063.729, released November 22nd, in order to have a required fix for a broken hook mechanism.

Thank you for your patience as we grapple with the bugs and crashes.

If all goes well, the next post in this blog will simply announce a new build of Visual Assist.

November 14th update fixes one crash in Visual Studio

Two bugs in recent updates to Microsoft Windows 10 cause Visual Studio to crash when certain extensions, including Visual Assist, are installed. Microsoft fixed one of the bugs, a broken hook mechanism, in its November 14, 2017, update.

All Windows 10 users with Visual Assist should install the November 14 update, available via Windows Update or via stand-alone packages. Download the stand-alone update from the Windows Update Catalog, accessed from the bottom of the description of the update for Windows 10 Version 1703 or update for Windows 10 Version 1709 Fall Creators Update.

Microsoft acknowledged that the second bug, which causes CreateWindowEx() to fail, exists in Windows 10 (64-bit) Fall Creators Update (Version 1709). The CreateWindowEx bug also causes Visual Studio to crash when Visual Assist is installed. The workaround recommended by Microsoft and by Whole Tomato is to rollback to the previous version of Windows 10. If you do rollback, defer installation of the Fall Creators Update and install the November 14th update.

If you run Windows 10 (64-bit) Fall Creators Update (Version 1709) and you cannot rollback, install Visual Assist build 2238 to mitigate the CreateWindowEx() failures. If Visual Studio continues to crash, disable Visual Assist and wait for another update from Microsoft, mid-December at earliest, before resuming normal use of Visual Assist.

Visit our discussion forums or contact us if you have questions or need technical support.

Thank you for your patience as we work around these Windows bugs.

Stay tuned for our next announcement.

Defer installation of the Fall Creators Update to avoid crashes in Visual Studio

The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (FCU) 1709 contains a bug that causes CreateWindow() and CreateWindowEx() to fail unpredictably. The bug prevents Visual Assist from rendering all components of its UI, and eventually causes Visual Studio to crash.

Microsoft has acknowledged the CreateWindow() bug and is investigating its cause, but the bug will not be fixed—at the earliest—until the December Patch Tuesday. If you want to use Visual Assist until Microsoft releases a fix, defer installation of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update.

Separately, Microsoft broke Windows hook procedures in Windows 10 Build 15063.608, issued Sept 12th. The hook bug causes Visual Studio to crash intermittently, e.g. when opening certain dialogs of Visual Assist. Microsoft has acknowledged the bug and is scheduled to release a fix on November Patch Tuesday.

Visit our discussion forums or contact us if you have questions or need technical support.

Stay tuned for our next announcement regarding the bugs.