Solved: Why won’t ColdFusion Builder accept my serial number?
To license CFBuilder, you need to put in a valid serial number. If you put in one for the wrong product (like CF) or the wrong CFB version, it will reject it as invalid, but it won’t explain why.
Have you ever been confused when you tried to put into CFBuilder a serial number you thought was valid, but it wouldn’t accept it? I had a client hit this problem, and I see now that the feedback there is not as clear as it could be. I thought I’d share the experience and the solution here, ending with a suggestion (bug report) for Adobe.
The solution in her case was pretty simple: she was putting in a CF serial number, rather than a CF Builder serial number. That may seem a silly mistake, but it’s not, as I will explain below. And the same could happen if you mistakenly put in the CFB serial number for the wrong CFB version.
The problem is that in either case, all you’re told (if anything) is that it’s an invalid key, whether during the install or after installing (via the help menu’s licensing option). Let me explain.
I’ll start with the solution(s) for those who may come here with the problem, then I’ll discuss the UI problem and propose an improvement.
Don’t try to use a CF serial number
Why might someone do this? Consider that buying CF does entitle you to a free CFBuilder license, It’s understandable that someone (in her case, a colleague) could presume that a CF serial number would work. But they are indeed separate licenses.
And FWIW, note that CFBuilder serial numbers start with 1422-, while ColdFusion numbers start with either 1187- for CF Standard or 1185- for CF Enterprise.
As such, I’d argue that the CFB UI could easily detect and warn someone doing this.
Don’t use a CFB serial number for an older (or newer) CFB version
This second mistake is nearly as easy as the first. I’ve confirmed that if for instance you put in CFB2016 number into CFB2018 or vice-versa, you get the same problem as above: it simply won’t be accepted and you’re told (if anything) that it is “invalid”.
I’ve compared CFB serial numbers for the different versions and I’ve not found any pattern to indicate the version number (for either CFB or CF serial numbers), but if Adobe could tell, I’d argue again that the UI could make it clear when this was the problem.
The UI feedback, or lack thereof
So what do I mean that the feedback was not obvious in these cases?
First, in the case of the CFB installer, the last screen asking for a serial number simply will simple leave an “x” to the right of that field, even after you have entered a key like those above. That alone could confuse folks. Then if you do hit the “Next” button, it shows “The serial number that you have entered is invalid“. But note that this doesn’t explain WHY it was invalid, which I’d think it could if one of those cases above.
Second, the situation is actually worse in the case of the Help menu option, License Adobe ColdFusion Builder. That presents a prompt for Serial Number, and as you start typing it shows a “Please type a license key” prompt below that (which is a separate point of confusion, in using both “serial number” and “license key” on the same screen.) If you do enter a complete but invalid one of the sort above, it will simply leave that prompt on screen, and the “ok” button to proceed would remain grayed out. You’re left wondering what’s amiss.
What could Adobe do?
Again I’d argue that the CFBuilder installer and help menu licensing screen could at least detect and warn if one is using a CF license key by mistake. And it would be great if it could warn that the key is for the wrong CFB version. I’ve filed a bug report requesting that. Add your vote or comments, whether you agree or disagree.
What you can do, if you don’t have a valid key?
Until then, and if you are facing this situation and don’t currently have the valid CF Builder serial number, you have two choices. One is perhaps not so obvious.
First, you clearly need to get the right serial number. You (or the person you got it from) may have an email with the right key, or perhaps you have a direct contact at Adobe or a reseller you can ask. You might also find your key in the Adobe licensing portal, for folks who buy through the volume licensing program. Finally, you could reach out to the firstname.lastname@example.org email address for any installation help, with CF or CFBuilder.
Finally, note that if you don’t (or can’t) put in a serial number, you can tell CFB to proceed without one. CFBuilder will operate as the free trial for the first 60 days, and after that if you still don’t put in a valid key it will revert to the free Express edition (which withholds various features), as I have written about here previously.
Hope all that helps someone.