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   Re: XML Spy and ICComNet

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  • From: "Alexander Falk" <falk@icon.at>
  • To: <xml-dev@xml.org>
  • Date: Fri, 12 May 2000 20:49:29 +0200


there has been concern raised by a couple of people on this discussion list
regarding our ICComNet module - I apologize for not being able to reply any
sooner, but I was taking the day off today and went to the zoo with my kids.

Some of you have rightfully asked for an official statement from our
company, Icon Information-Systems, who produces XML Spy
(http://www.xmlspy.com), and I'll be happy to explain the exact use and
purpose of ICComNet within XML Spy:

First of all, the ICComNet module is a regular component of XML Spy 3.0 and
is NO trojan horse, virus, payload or any other malicious thing that one
should be paranoid about!

It is installed by the XML Spy setup program (just like any other component
of our product). And should also be removed by our Uninstaller (if it isn't,
as some have reported, then that's a bug in our setup program in this beta 3
version that will be corrected in the final release).

ICComNet is a network communications module (hence the name: "IC" for ICON,
our company, "Com" for communications and "Net" for network) that
encapsulates common functions of both TCP/IP and IPX/SPX (Novell) protocols
into a COM module (or more technically speaking into a "COM local server")
and is used by XML Spy to talk between different instances of the product
running within a local area network (LAN) - currently for the sole purpose
of license metering of multi-user license installations. We are also
planning to use that same communications channel for additional groupware
functionality in the project view in future versions of our product.

When XML Spy starts up, it asks ICComNet to find any other instance of the
product running on another computer in the same network segment - it does
this (e.g. in the case of TCP/IP) by sending a couple of UDP datagrams (as
Don Box has already found out using network monitoring tools and reported
here). If it doesn't get any response, it will open a port for listening to
other instances of XML Spy and periodically send a small broadcast to
announce its presence on the network. Other than that, it will do nothing at
all in a single-user situation. Once you exit from XML Spy, ICComNet will
cease to generate any further network traffic. Also, if you are not
connected to a LAN or are using dial-up connections to connect to the
Internet, XML Spy will NOT generate any network traffic at all.

If more than one copy of XML Spy is used within the same LAN, they will talk
to each other via ICComNet upon startup to exchange their key-codes and
ensure that the number of concurrent licenses purchased is not accidentially
violated, as additional copies of the product are launched by more users.
This is the same kind of license metering technology, that is also very
common in the Unix world (e.g. it is used by the Sun Compilers and many
other development tools) and allows our customers to purchase
reasonably-priced concurrent-use multi-user licenses (see
http://www.xmlspy.com/order for our pricelist).

XML Spy is at no time attempting to send any information out of your LAN,
over the Internet, or do any other malicious deeds behind your back. We are
also deliberately sending very few and small network packets so as to not
put a burden on any network. The TCP/IP ports used by ICComNet are
officially registered with the IANA and the ICComNet module is a proven and
tested technology that has already been used by our company for over a year
with many European telephone directory CD-ROM and Intranet products, where
we are also performing license metering in networks of up to 15,000
concurrent users. XML Spy 3.0b3 is the first version of XML Spy to actually
include and use the ICComNet component.

I believe, a lot of confusion has been caused, because the current beta 3
version of XML Spy 3.0 does not yet include the new manual and on-line help,
which will include a chapter that explains the ICComNet module in detail
(just like in this message). Therefore, there was a certain uneasyness about
this issue that is perfectly understandable in the light of recent events! I
apologize for this inconvenience and hope that any open questions have now
been answered.

If not, please feel free to contact me directly with any further issues you
might have. Our technical support staff (mailto:support@xmlspy.com) will
also be happy to answer any questions concerning ICComNet and
license-metering within XML Spy.


Alexander Falk

... Icon Informations-Systeme GmbH
... President, CEO
... http://www.icon.at/falk

----- Original Message -----
From: "David E. Cleary" <davec@progress.com>
To: <xml-dev@xml.org>
Sent: Thursday, May 11, 2000 10:55 PM
Subject: XML Spy and ICComNet

> I've just installed the beta version of XML Spy. Shortly thereafter, I
> discovered a process called ICComNet.exe was running on my machine.
> ...

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