Application Note 2036: Set ESRI ArcGIS licensing Level

Set ArcGIS Licensing level

OpenLM was originally written by ESRI ArcGIS veterans, and as such it still contains various benefits to ESRI users. One of those is the ability to monitor and control ESRI licensing level through the OpenLM EasyAdmin web application, and the OpenLM Agent client tool.

ESRI licensing level

ESRI implementation is unique in the sense that you can activate the ArcMap software in three different licensing levels:

  • Basic (Previously called viewer or ArcView)

  • Standard (Previously called ‘ArcEditor’)

  • Advanced (Previously called ‘ArcInfo’)

ArcGIS end users can set the licensing level before activating the software. If such a license is available, the software will start. In OpenLM version 1.8 we have highly enhanced the licensing level feature:

  • It is now possible to set the licensing level according to available licenses.

  • The user can choose whether to save the ArcGIS licensing level to the Registry, to do it on a user level, or on a system level (for all users – requires administrative permissions).

Setting the license level

In order to view the users licensing level, right click the OpenLM Agent icon. “Set ArcGIS License level” appears on the top of the pop-up menu (Marked by the red arrow).

the following window opens:

The three levels of licenses appear on screen; each with its availability indication.

Also, the mechanism for saving the licensing level is also provided:

  • User Env: A user environment specific for current user

  • System Env: Set the environment variable to all users (requires administrator privileges)

  • Registry (Default): Save the licensing level to the local registry.

Select the

  • Relevant license manager,

  • Required licensing level and

  • Required saving mechanism

and click the ‘Save’ button.

Hide ‘Set ArcGIS License Level’ from agents

The three usage license levels may be presented or hidden from the user according to the system administration policy. In order to prevent end users from changing the license level:

1. Open the OpenLM Easyadmin tool and press the Easyadmin start button (On the bottom left corner of the Easyadmin window). A selection menu pops up.

2. Select Administration. The Following window Appears

3. Select the Active Agent icon, and the “Extension Dedicated” tab. The following window appears:

Apply your decision to the “Hide Set ArcGIS License Level from agents” box;

  • Checked: The ArcGIS license level GUI is NOT presented to the end user.

  • Unchecked (Default): The ArcGIS license level GUI is presented to the user.

4. Click the ‘Save’ button.


OpenLM Active Agent’s “Set ArcGIS License Level” Tool

OpenLM for ESRI ArcGIS provides users with a wide range of tools that make it possible to enhance the usability of Desktop ArcGIS licenses.

With these tools, users can:

  1. Query license availability
  2. Check who is using licenses at any given time
  3. Get full details on license users
  4. Receive license-availability notifications when licenses become available
  5. Reopen closed projects
  6. Set the ArcGIS license level

This post focuses on the sixth item in the previous list: Setting the ArcGIS license level.

First of all, it is important to note that ESRI Desktop ArcGIS comes in three levels:

Viewer – While Viewer is a very powerful software package, it is entry-level software as far as ESRI ArcGIS Desktop is concerned. Also known as ArcView, Viewer allows users to view, edit, and analyze GIS data stored in files or SDE. The capabilities of this license level can be enhanced by using different extensions from ESRI or third-party developers.

Please note that Viewer, or ArcView, is called VIEWER in FLEXlm.

Editor – Editor provides users with the capabilities of Viewer as well as tools designed for editing spatial data. The tools of this level make the creation of map and spatial data in GIS easy; they can edit:

  • Geodatabase files and data
  • Multi-user geodatabases
  • Versioning
  • Raster data and vectorization
  • Advanced vector data
  • Coverages
  • Coordinate geometry (COGO)
  • Geometric networks

Please note that Editor is called EDITOR in FLEXlm.

Professional – Professional is the most powerful Desktop-GIS package from ESRI. The professional license provides users with all capabilities of the previous levels in addition to other features, including:

  • Advanced spatial data analysis
  • Geoprocessing
  • Data management

Please note that Professional is called ARCINFO in FLEXlm.

ESRI Desktop ArcGIS software allows users to switch between the different license levels by using ArcGIS Administrator software.

The tool pictured above allows users to switch between “Concurrent Use” and “Single Use” licenses. It also allows users to access the license-borrowing capability that was released with version 10 of Desktop ArcGIS.

To make changes in this form, users set values in the workstation registry. For example, entering HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\ESRI\License10.0\SOFTWARE_CLASS = Viewer into a workstation’s registry will set that system’s license level to Viewer (ArcView).

Set ArcGIS License Level
OpenLM Active Agent’s “Set ArcGIS License Level” tool provides users with a quick, easy-to-use method for setting their workstation’s license level; it uses an environment variable (ESRI_SOFTWARE_CLASS). When enabled, this tool allows users to quickly change their software levels without having to use the ArcGIS Administrator tool.

The possible values of the environment variable are:

  • Viewer – To use the ArcView license level
  • Editor – To use the ArcEditor license level
  • Professional – To use the ArcInfo license level

Using the environment-variables method provided by OpenLM Active Agent offers numerous benefits:

  • It is quick and easy (It only requires 2 mouse clicks)
  • It is a great alternative to granting users complete access to the ArcGIS Administrator tool
  • It provides the system administrator with an easy way to control users’ access to licenses

There is, however, one drawback to using the OpenLM Agent tool:

  • It may cause problems since it takes priority over the ArcGIS Administrator tool.

Disabling the OpenLM Agent Tool
If any problems do occur while using the OpenLM Agent tool, it can be disabled in two easy steps. First, navigate to the software folder, which is typically located in C:\Program Files\OpenLM\OpenLM Agent. Then, once in the folder, delete “plugin.xml.”

The next version of OpenLM Agent will provide built-in support for enabling and disabling extensions.

This post focuses primarily on OpenLM Active Agent’s “Set ArcGIS License Level” tool, but it also briefly covers the three levels of ESRI Desktop ArcGIS and ArcGIS Administrator’s method of changing license levels. The benefits of using “Set ArcGIS License Level” to change users’ license levels are discussed, and the methods used to do so are explained. Additionally, for system administrators who would prefer to disable the OpenLM Active Agent method of changing users’ license levels, there is a quick guide that can be followed to do so.

How Does OpenLM TIMEOUT for ESRI ArcGIS works


OpenLM for ESRI ArcGIS implements a TIMEOUT feature for ESRI ArcGIS software that uses FLEXlm software for licensing. The activity of the TIMEOUT feature is based on two parameters, maximum idle time and threshold.

Maximum idle time (minutes) – Set the maximum time that ESRI ArcGIS software will not be closed, even if the software is not in use (idle). The software may be closed after that time, if the usage is above a set level (threshold).

Threshold (percent) – The usage level that above it OpenLM will start to release ESRI ArcGIS FLEXlm licenses.

How does it works?

OpenLM monitors the usage level of each FLEXlm feature and once the usage level is above the set threshold, OpenLM will gracefully close sessions, starting with the ones that are idling longer. Once the usage level drops below the set threshold, OpenLM Server will not close more idling sessions.

From the end user’s point of view, his ESRI ArcGIS project will be saved and then closed. A pop-up message will announce that the project was closed and will allow the user to reopen the project in a single click. The user can also click OpenLM Agent located on the end user desktop and get the list of all recently closed projects.


The combination of the threshold/maximum idle time is a simple system that assures that licenses will be available for users that need licenses while trying to minimize the number of closed sessions.

Since the act of closing idle sessions of ArcGIS Desktop can cause some inconvenience, OpenLM, is trying to minimize the number of closed sessions. If demand for Desktop ArcGIS licenses is low then users can keep idle session. When there is a demand for licenses OpenLM Server must assure that a sufficient number of licenses are available for new users that may try to access the software.

For example:
ESRI ArcView Licenses – 100
ESRI ArcInfo Licenses – 10
ESRI ArcGIS Spatial Analyst – 3

The default OpenLM Values are:

Threshold – 80%
Maximum idle time – 20 Minutes

Starting with the ArcView licenses, OpenLM will try to keep 20 licenses free for new users. Since 400 or more users can use a pool of 100 ESRI ArcGIS concurrent licenses. Keeping an amount of 20 free licenses available for new users makes sense.

With a total of 10 licenses available, OpenLM will try to keep two free licenses of ESRI ArcInfo ready for new users. Assuming that 8 licenses were already consumed, if more then two users try to access the ESRI ArcInfo licenses at the same time, some will get a FLEXlm denial. If two or less users request an ArcInfo license at the same time, their request will be fulfilled and then OpenLM will try to release idle sessions for more new users.

Because of the low number of Spatial Analyst licenses, OpenLM will only keep one floating license free for new users. This is because when two licenses are in use the usage rate is only 66% (less than 80%). Only when the third floating license is consumed the usage rate will be 100% and OpenLM will try to release one license for new users.

As shown above, the threshold mechanism works well for both high and low numbers of ESRI ArcGIS concurrent licenses.

Is there any benefit in applying different timeout values for different features?

We will try to address this issue by an example. Let us assume we have two FLEXlm features with different groups of users for each group: editing users that use ESRI ArcInfo and viewers the use ESRI ArcView.

Feature Licenses Users
ArcView         10        40
ArcInfo          10        20

With a threshold of 80% OpenLM will try to keep two (2) free licenses for each FLEXlm feature (ArcView and ArcInfo). Since there are less users that are sharing the ArcInfo FLEXlm feature (10 licenses for 20 users), there are more chances that less then 8 licenses will be concurrently in use. When the usage is bellow the set threshold, no sessions will be closed by OpenLM and by that, we actually extend the maximum idle time parameter.

If the usage rate of the FLEXlm ArcInfo feature is higher then the set threshold, 80%, a higher time out will not allow OpenLM to release idle licenses. The result is that we allowed idle users to hold licenses that are required by other users, and by that, avoided them from doing their work.

The conclusion is that timeout should be kept minimal and uniform to all features and user groups.


The timeout mechanism provided by OpenLM for ESRI ArcGIS is based on two parameters, “maximum idle time” and threshold. The combination of these two parameters provides a good solution for floating licenses (FLEXlm features) with both high and small number of licenses. The timeout value should be kept minimal (15-20 minutes) for all FLEXlm features and user groups.