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How to Buy the Right Studio 5000 License

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    Szymon Palczynski


Ever found yourself tangled in the intricate web of Rockwell Automation's Studio 5000 licensing options? You're not alone. Whether you're diving into the world of industrial automation for the first time or you're a seasoned pro revisiting your software needs, choosing the right Studio 5000 license is crucial. In this guide, we'll unravel the complexities, from perpetual to subscription licenses, and from basic editions to feature-rich packages. Stay tuned to discover how you can make an informed decision that aligns perfectly with your projects and budget.

What is Studio 5000?

Studio 5000 is Rockwell Automation's integrated engineering suite aimed at industrial automation. It serves as a hub for tasks like programming, configuration, and simulation, providing a centralized platform for control system design.

The software is available in multiple editions—Professional, Full, Standard Network, Standard, Lite, and Mini. Each edition is designed to meet different levels of project complexity, from simple setups to more intricate systems.

In terms of functionality, Studio 5000 offers a range of editors like Ladder Diagram (LD), Function Block Diagram (FBD), and Structured Text (ST), among others. These give engineers the flexibility to approach design in a way that best suits their project's needs. The software is also adaptable in terms of hardware compatibility, supporting a variety of controllers.

Things to Consider Before You Start

Matching Editions

The Studio 5000 edition you choose will also determine the edition of the accompanying Studio 5000 Logix Designer application. Make sure you're selecting an edition that fits your project's scope.

Controller Support and Functionality

Your specific controller's capabilities are a critical factor in selecting the right Studio 5000 edition. The functionality you require from Logix Designer will essentially dictate which edition of Studio 5000 is suitable for your project.

License Flexibility

Logix Designer licenses are concurrent, covering the most recent version at the time of purchase and extending back to version 20.05 by default. If your project requires software versions both newer and older than V20.05, you must opt for a Legacy license.

Software Updates

Keep in mind that access to new version releases after your initial purchase is only available if you are under Rockwell Automation Software Support coverage. Plan accordingly if you expect to need updates.

License Priority

If multiple licenses are available on your FactoryTalk Activation server, Studio 5000 defaults to using the edition with the highest functionality. For instance, if Lite, Standard, and Professional licenses are available, Studio 5000 will automatically opt for the Professional edition.


All prices in this post are in €, based on prices available in Rockwell Automation's store in Ireland at the time of writing this post and are VAT excluded.

Controller Support

All editions support CompactLogix and Compact GuardLogix controller families, but ControlLogix and GuardLogix platforms are not supported in the Lite and Mini editions.

Compact LogixControl Logix

(+) supported, (-) not supported

Personally, I never use safety integrated into PLC, and a CompactLogix processor is sufficient for my projects. Although sometimes my customers request ControlLogix because their other machines are using it, and they want to reduce the number of different controllers in their factory. Also, very often I need to troubleshoot or modify existing control systems that are equipped with ControlLogix.

Legacy? Versions Older Than 20.05

If you, like me, require to work with older versions of Studio 5000, you will need to purchase a legacy license. This will allow you to use versions older than 20.05. Sometimes I have to work with machines that are running older versions of firmware. This is why I need a legacy license to be able to open the project in the version of Logix Designer that matches the firmware version of the controller. Legacy options are available only for Lite, Standard, and Professional editions.

Core Software Support

  • Studio 5000 View Designer is a software package that allows machine builders to create and maintain HMI applications for Allen-Bradley PanelView 5000 graphic terminals. It is included in all editions (Professional, Full, Standard Network, Standard, Lite, Mini).

  • RSLinx Classic Lite is a simplified version of Rockwell's RSLinx Classic, bundled with all Studio 5000 editions. It's used for programming with Logix Designer, network and device configuration via RSNetWorx, configuring Ethernet modules like 175

6-ENET, firmware upgrades through ControlFlash, and browsing networks for device info. It doesn't support OPC, DDE, or API functionalities.

  • FactoryTalk Linx replaces RSLinx Classic Lite in newer versions of software included in Studio 5000. It facilitates communication between FactoryTalk software and various hardware devices, including PLCs and HMIs. Unlike RSLinx Classic, FactoryTalk Linx is designed to work specifically within the broader FactoryTalk suite for more integrated solutions. It is available in all editions (Professional, Full, Standard Network, Standard, Lite, Mini).

  • FactoryTalk Linx Gateway is not included in any edition of Studio 5000, but it is available as a separate package. It is designed to act as a data bridge between different industrial networks and systems. It allows for communication between Rockwell Automation's FactoryTalk software and other systems, essentially serving as a gateway for data exchange.

  • Studio 5000 Architect serves as a centralized tool for configuring and managing automation systems. It allows you to set up hardware, design networks, and organize project files. The software is designed for seamless integration with other Studio 5000 components, streamlining the design and management of complex automation tasks. It is included in Professional, Full, Standard Network and Standard, and available separately for Lite and Mini.

Language Add-Ons

  • Ladder Diagram (LD) is a graphical programming language designed to resemble electrical relay logic diagrams. It employs a rung-based structure. It is an essential PLC programming language included in all editions (Professional, Full, Standard Network, Standard, Lite, Mini).

  • Function Block Diagram (FBD) is a graphical programming language that uses blocks to represent functions or operations. Unlike LD, it allows for more complex interactions between blocks, with data flowing through connecting lines. Some instructions like Drive control blocks are not available in Ladder Diagram and require FBD language support.

  • Structured Text (ST) is a high-level, text-based programming language used in PLC and automation systems. Unlike graphical languages like Ladder Diagram (LD) or Function Block Diagram (FBD), Structured Text resembles traditional programming languages like Pascal. It is particularly useful for complex algorithms, data manipulation, and tasks that involve a lot of conditional logic or mathematical calculations.

  • Sequential Function Chart (SFC) is another graphical programming language that uses a flowchart-like structure. SFC is particularly well-suited for designing complex processes that involve sequential and parallel operations. It provides a high-level view of a control system, breaking it down into a series of steps and transitions. Steps represent actions or sets of actions, and transitions determine the conditions under which the process moves from one step to another.

Language PackagesLDFBDSTSFC

(+) included, (o) available

Package and Editor Add-Ons

  • GuardLogix Safety Editor is designed for configuring and programming GuardLogix Safety Controllers, which are used to implement safety functions. The editor allows engineers to create safety logic separate from, yet integrated with, standard control logic. This enables both safety and standard control systems to exist in a single controller chassis.

  • PhaseManager

  • SequenceManager

  • RSNetWorx is a software tool developed for configuring and managing network devices in industrial automation systems. Specifically, it's often used for DeviceNet, ControlNet, and EtherNet/IP networks. RSNetWorx allows you to set up your network topology, configure devices, set network parameters, and monitor network performance.

  • PIDE AutoTune

  • Advanced Process Controls (APC)

  • APC Runtime License

Multi-Language Pack: MLP is a bundle of editors available that includes: FBD, ST, SFC.

Full Pack: Full Pack is a bundle that includes all MLP editors as well as Safety, Phase Manager, and Sequence Manager.

Virtual Design and Simulation

Studio 5000 Logix Emulate is a software package that allows you to simulate Logix5000 controllers. It's designed to help you test and debug your control logic without

the need for physical hardware. It's also useful for training purposes, allowing you to create virtual environments for learning and development. It is included only in the Professional edition and available as an add-on for other editions except Lite and Mini.

Studio 5000 Logix Emulate for Operator Training, Studio 5000 Simulation Interface Developer, and Studio 5000 Simulation Interface Run-Time are optional packages available for purchase separately for all editions.

FactoryTalk Logix Echo is available as a separate package for editions except Lite and Mini.

Logix Designer Data Exchange allows exchanging data files that represent Rockwell Automation devices in the automation system produced in tools such as EPLAN or AutoCAD Electrical. It is included only in the Professional edition and not available for any other. This is the only package that is not available for editions compatible with ControlLogix PLCs, so if you need it, you will need to purchase the Professional edition.

Supporting Packages

Rockwell offers a range of supporting packages that are not included in any edition of Studio 5000. These are available for purchase separately.

  • Studio 5000 Application Code Manager Lite Edition (free download)

  • Studio 5000 Application Code Manager Standard Edition

  • Studio 5000 License Portal

  • Studio 5000 Source Protection Stick

  • Controller Execution Protection SD Card

Subscription or Perpetual License?

The primary difference between Rockwell's perpetual and subscription licenses lies in ownership and payment structure:

  • Perpetual License: When you purchase a perpetual license, you own the software indefinitely. There's an upfront cost, and while you may still need to pay an annual fee for updates and support, you're not obligated to make regular payments to continue using the software.

  • Subscription License: With a subscription license, you pay a recurring fee to use the software for a specified period, such as monthly or annually. This often includes updates and support as part of the subscription cost. Once the subscription expires, you'll need to renew it to continue using the software.

In summary, a perpetual license is a one-time purchase that grants indefinite usage, whereas a subscription license requires ongoing payments but often includes additional services like regular updates and support.

This year, I face this decision once again. Last year, I invested in Studio 5000 Professional Legacy Edition as I was just starting out freelancing. Now that I plan to continue freelancing, I'm weighing the pros and cons of each license type.

What Package Do I Need?

My projects usually involve ControlLogix, which means Mini and Lite editions won't cut it. I often need to work with PLCs running firmware versions older than 20.05, so I require a legacy license. Legacy options aren't available for the Full edition, leaving me with Standard and Professional as viable choices. I frequently use Structured Text, not offered in the Standard edition but available as an add-on. I don't rely on RSNetWorx or Rockwell's support services, so let's delve into the price comparison.

PackagePerpetualSelf SupportSubscription
Standard Legacy + ST4,016.18415.701,690.27
Standard Legacy + Multi4,906.97415.701,875.14
Standard Legacy + Full Pack6,087.07415.702,307.65
Professional Legacy7,613.611,015.652,790.39

Multi-Language Pack: MLP is a bundle of editors available that includes: FBD, ST, SFC.

Full Pack: Full Pack is a bundle that includes all MLP editors as well as Safety, Phase Manager, and Sequence Manager.

As for this year, I've decided on a perpetual license. I plan to freelance for the foreseeable future and need my software. To gauge my return on investment, I'll subtract the self-support cost from the subscription cost and divide the perpetual license cost by this figure. Let's do the math.

PackageYears with Self SupportYears with 8x5 Support
Standard Legacy + ST3.153.77
Standard Legacy + Multi3.363.92
Standard Legacy + Full Pack3.223.61
Professional Legacy4.296.01

As evident, a Standard Legacy + ST license without support pays off in about 3 years. If you're considering a Professional edition with Rockwell's support, the pay-off period extends to around 6 years—a significant commitment.

I'm still debating whether to opt for the Multi-Language Pack at 1,789.20 or just go with Structured Text. Buying all language packages separately would cost me 2,923.63 (ST - 898.41, FBD - 1,126.81, SFC - 898.41). Since I haven't used FBD or SFC, I'll likely stick to Structured Text.


Navigating the labyrinth of Studio 5000 licensing options can be a daunting task, especially if you're balancing project requirements with budget constraints. Whether you're an independent freelancer or part of a larger organization, making an informed choice can make all the difference. From perpetual to subscription licenses, and from basic to advanced feature sets, the right package is crucial for your project's success. For a detailed breakdown, you can consult Rockwell's literature, and to make a purchase, head over to their commerce portal. Here's to making a choice that powers your industrial automation projects effectively and efficiently!