Tutorial: Licensing API

This tutorial walks you through creating an app that uses the Chrome Web Store Licensing API. You have many choices when implementing an app for the Chrome Web Store, but this tutorial features a common use case: a hosted app that's implemented in Java, with the help of Google App Engine and the Eclipse IDE.

You should be able to follow this tutorial even if you've never used Java, Google App Engine, or Eclipse. You'll get more out of this tutorial if you read the Overview first.

Note: You only need to use the Licensing API if you use Chrome Web Store Payments. For information on other payment options, see Charging for your app in the Overview.

Step 1: Get ready

Before you start, make sure you're using the Dev channel version of Google Chrome, and learn how to find the Chrome Developer Dashboard.

  1. Subscribe to the Dev channel by following the instructions in Early Access Release Channels.

  2. Find the Chrome Developer Dashboard. Until the Chrome Web Store is public, you can get to the dashboard from the Extensions Gallery.

    1. Go to the extensions management page, either by entering chrome://extensions in the address bar or by choosing the Tools > Extensions menu item from the wrench menu. (On the Mac, go to the Window menu and choose Tools.)
    2. Go to the Extensions Gallery by clicking the Get more extensions or browse the gallery link on the extensions management page.
    3. On the left side, look for the Publish your extensions link. At the bottom of the page, look for the Developer Dashboard link. Clicking either one takes you to the dashboard.

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Step 2: Upload app info to the dashboard

Before you can write code that uses the Licensing API, you need to upload your app with the Chrome Developer Dashboard. In this step, you'll create and upload a ZIP file containing the first draft of a manifest for your app.

  1. Create a directory to contain your app's manifest and, eventually, icons.

  2. In this directory, create a file named manifest.json and copy the following code into it:

      "name": "Hello License!",
      "description": "Try this awesome app",
      "version": "",
      "app": {
        "urls": [
        "launch": {
          "web_url": "http://example.com/mine/"

    Note: This manifest uses dummy data because you can always change it later. The important thing, for now, is to have correct formatting. For information about what the manifest for a hosted app should really contain, see Hosted Apps.

  3. Create a ZIP archive of the directory that contains manifest.json.

  4. Upload the ZIP file to the Chrome Developer Dashboard.

    1. Go to the Chrome Developer Dashboard and sign in.
    2. Click the Add new item button.
      If you've never uploaded an item before, you need to accept the developer agreement before going on.
    3. Click Choose file, navigate to your ZIP file, and click Upload.

    Within seconds you should see an edit page for your app. At the top, you'll see a warning that you must verify ownership for example.com. Ignore it. You can update the manifest and verify ownership of your site later.

  5. At the bottom of the edit page, click Save draft and return to dashboard. You'll return to the Chrome Developer Dashboard, which lists installable web apps, extensions, and themes that you've uploaded.

  6. Go back to the edit page by clicking the Edit link for your app.

  7. Get the app ID by inspecting the page's URL.
    The URL in the browser's address bar should look something like this:

    That long string of gibberish—abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabcdef, in this example—is your app's ID. Save it, so you can use it in your code.

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Step 3: Get the OAuth token

In this step, you get the OAuth access token and access token secret that allow you to use the Licensing API. To get these, you first need to tell the store that your app will use Chrome Web Store Payments.

  1. In the edit page for your app, click the Change pricing button.
  2. Choose This application uses Chrome Web Store Payments, and save.
  3. Return to the Chrome Developer Dashboard, and click the OAuth setup link for your app.

    Note: The OAuth setup link appears only if you've set the pricing of your app to use Chrome Web Store Payments.

    A page comes up with information about the Licensing API and its use of OAuth.
  4. Click the Generate new token button at the bottom of the OAuth page.

    A screenshot showing the bottom of the OAuth page before generating the new token

  5. Save the values that appear next to oauth_token_secret and oauth_token.

    A screenshot showing the generated token and secret at bottom of the OAuth page

Important: Keep your access token and token secret safe and private. (The screenshot shows sample values that won't work.) If you lose the token or secret, you'll need to generate them again.

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Step 4: Set up your development environment

Now that you have the IDs and tokens you need, it's time to code. But first, you need to set up your development environment.

Note: This tutorial uses Google App Engine, but you can use whatever technologies you like when you create your own apps.

  1. Sign into Google App Engine, and create an application with the following information:
    • Identifier: Any unique identifier that makes sense to you. This identifier is used in the default app location; for example, choosing "hellolicense" results in a default app location of http://hellolicense.appspot.com
    • Title: Hello License!
    • Authentication Options: Click the Edit link, and choose Open to all users with an OpenID Provider.

    Note: If you've never used Google App Engine before, it will make you verify your account before you create an application.

  2. Install the Google App Engine SDK for Java.
  3. Install the Eclipse IDE for Java Developers.
  4. Install the Google Plugin for Eclipse.

For details see the Google App Engine documentation, in particular Getting Started: Java.

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Step 5: Create your app

In this step, you'll write your web app's code, using the Eclipse IDE as your development environment.

  1. In Eclipse, create a new web app project: File > New > Web Application Project. Name your project HelloLicense, set the package name to com.example, and uncheck the Google Web Toolkit option. Then click Finish.

  2. Get the following two JAR files, which are required by OAuth Signpost, the OAuth library that this example uses to sign requests to the license server.

    Download this file from http://code.google.com/p/oauth-signpost/downloads/list.
    Download commons-codec-1.4-bin.tar.gz or commons-codec-1.4-bin.zip from http://commons.apache.org/codec/download_codec.cgi, extract the files, and get commons-codec-1.4.jar from the top directory.

    Put these two JAR files in your Eclipse project's war/WEB-INF/lib directory.

  3. Now tell Eclipse about those JAR files.

    1. In Eclipse, refresh the display of your project. You can do this by opening a context menu in your project (such as by right-clicking your project's name in the Package Explorer) and choosing Refresh.
    2. Get to the Properties panel for your app. You can do this by opening a context menu again and choosing Properties.
    3. Go to the Java Build Path property list, choose the Libraries tab, and then click Add JARs.
    4. Navigate to the directory you just put the JAR files in, select the JAR files, and click OK.
  4. Copy the sample code to your main servlet.

    1. In the Project Explorer, go to HelloLicense > src > com.example, and double-click HelloLicenseServlet.java.
    2. Replace the contents of HelloLicenseServlet.java with the contents of this file.

    The code you paste in uses the Licensing API to check whether the user has access to this app. For code snippets and instructions on using the Licensing API, see Checking for Payment.

  5. In the code you just pasted in, fill in the APP_ID, TOKEN, and TOKEN_SECRET constants with the values you got in Steps 2 and 3. These constants are necessary for using the Licensing API. For example:

    public static final String APP_ID = "abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyzabcdef";
    private static final String TOKEN = "1/knWSSAiX_-4o8abb-uSFk2_DaSrnpx9Y2udck-OuA7A";
    private static final String TOKEN_SECRET = "t8KgYCxRv+0jNVY7DdrBQvto";
  6. Take a look at the code in HelloLicenseServlet.java:

    • The following lines get the OpenID URL for the user's Google Account, as described in Identifying the User. If you don't use Google App Engine, then instead of using UserService, you need to use an OpenID library and the Google OpenID endpoint.

      UserService userService = UserServiceFactory.getUserService();
      if (userService.isUserLoggedIn()) {
        User user = userService.getCurrentUser();
        /* user.getFederatedIdentity() is the OpenID URL. */
    • The following code creates, signs, and sends a request to the license server, using the OAuth Signpost library and the standard URLConnection class. The Licensing API URI in the request has the form https://www.googleapis.com/chromewebstore/v1/licenses/appId/userId. To sign the request, the OAuth library needs the app's access token and token secret, as well as the consumer key and secret (both "anonymous").

      public static final String SERVER_URL =
      public static final String CONSUMER_KEY = "anonymous";
      public static final String CONSUMER_SECRET = CONSUMER_KEY;
      OAuthConsumer oauth = new DefaultOAuthConsumer(CONSUMER_KEY, CONSUMER_SECRET);
      oauth.setTokenWithSecret(TOKEN, TOKEN_SECRET);
      URLConnection http =
          new URL(
              URLEncoder.encode(user.getFederatedIdentity(), "UTF-8")
    • The response from the license server is in JSON format, by default. The following code uses the JSONObject.get method to parse the response to figure out whether the user should have access to the app. If the "result" field value is "YES", then the user has either full or free trial access, depending on the value of the "accessLevel" field.

      JSONObject json = new JSONObject(file);
        "Hello %s license!",
        "YES".equals(json.get("result")) ?
            "FULL".equals(json.get("accessLevel")) ? "full" : "free trial" :

      Note: Until users can buy apps, the value of the "result" field will always be "NO" unless you use a special test user ID.

For more information about using the Licensing API, see Checking for Payment.

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Step 6: Test and deploy your app

In this step, you'll make sure your app works, and you'll deploy it to the web.

  1. Still in Eclipse, choose Run > Run As > Web Application.
    If it doesn't run, make sure you followed these instructions exactly, and try again. If it does run, you'll see the server location in the Eclipse Console.

  2. In a browser, visit the server location—for example, http://localhost:8888/—and click the link to HelloLicense.
    You should see a simple page with a Sign in link.

  3. Sign in as text@example.com.
    If you get an error page, then make sure you entered the app ID, OAuth access token, and access token secret correctly.

    Note: Currently, there's no way to pay, so you'll always be told that the user doesn't have access. However, in this developer release, you can modify the user ID that you supply so that you get a different answer. For details, see Special user IDs for testing.

  4. Once you successfully run your app locally, deploy it:

    1. Click the App Engine deploy button on the toolbar:
      A Deploy dialog comes up.
    2. Set the identifier to be used for Google App Engine. This is different from the Google Chrome app ID; it's the string you chose in Step 4. To set it, click the App Engine project settings link in the Deploy dialog, and then set the Application ID field to the string from Step 4—for example, "hellolicense".
    3. Click the Deploy button.
      The Eclipse Console displays the status of the upload.
  5. When your app is deployed, visit its new location under http://identifier.appspot.com. For an example, the app with the identifier "hellolicense" is at http://hellolicense.appspot.com/hellolicense.

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Step 7: Install your app into Google Chrome

Once your website is up and running, you can update the manifest and test installing the app in Google Chrome. This section won't lead you through that process in detail, but here's a manifest for the Hello License app that's served at http://hellolicense.appspot.com/hellolicense:

  "name": "Hello License!",
  "description": "Try this awesome app",
  "version": "",
  "app": {
    "urls": [
    "launch": {
      "web_url": "http://hellolicense.appspot.com/hellolicense"
  "icons": {
    "24": "icon_24.png",
    "128": "icon_128.png"

Note that you need to add icons to the manifest and ZIP file, so that your app can be installed. Once you install this app, the large icon appears in the New Tab page. Clicking the icon takes you to http://hellolicense.appspot.com/hellolicense.

For details on manifest contents and on installing an app that isn't yet packaged in a .crx file, see Hosted Apps.

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Step 8: Finish your app's listing

Use the edit page to add all the store listing information that isn't in the ZIP file, such as a long description, screenshots, videos, and links to related sites. You can preview what users will see for your app by clicking the Preview changes button at the bottom of the edit page.

For details on finishing and publishing an app, see Publishing Your App.

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What next?

Here are some choices for where to go next:

Get the conceptual background you need to use the Chrome Web Store well.
Checking for Payment
Learn how to use the Licensing API to check whether the user has paid for your app.
Find samples in multiple languages of hosted apps that use the Licensing API.

If you just want to write your app, see the developer doc for the type of app you're interested in:

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