8 Working with Dependencies

The application from Chapter 7 is a complete and secure model for atomic swaps of assets, but there is plenty of room for improvement. However, one can’t implement all feature before going live with an application so it’s important to understand way to change already running code. There are fundamentally two types of change one may want to make:

  1. Upgrades, which change existing logic. For example, one might want the Asset template to have multiple signatories.
  2. Extensions, which merely add new functionality though additional templates.

Upgrades are covered in their own own section outside this introduction to DAML: Upgrading and extending DAML applications so in this section we will extend the chapter 7 model with a simple second workflow: A multi-leg trade. In doing so, you’ll learn about:

  • The software architecture of the DAML Stack
  • Dependencies and Data Dependencies
  • Identifiers

Since we are extending chapter 7, the setup for this chapter is slightly more complex:

  1. In a base directory, load the chapter 7 project using daml new 7Composing --template daml-intro-7. The directory 7Composing here is important as it’ll be referenced by the other project we are creating.
  2. In the same directory, load the chapter 8 project using daml new 8Dependencies --template daml-intro-8.

8Dependencies contains a new module Intro.Asset.MultiTrade and a corresponding test module Test.Intro.Asset.MultiTrade.

DAR, DALF, DAML-LF, and the Engine

In 7 Composing choices you already learnt a little about projects, DAML-LF, DAR files, and dependencies. In this chapter we will actually need to have dependencies from the chapter 8 project to the chapter 7 project so it’s time to learn a little more about all this.

Let’s have a look inside the DAR file of chapter 7. DAR files, like Java JAR files are just ZIP archives, but the DAML SDK also has a utility to inspect DARs out of the box:

  1. Navigate into the 7Composing directory.
  2. Build using daml build -o assets.dar
  3. Run daml damlc inspect-dar assets.dar

You’ll get a whole lot of output. Under the header “DAR archive contains the following files:” you’ll see that the DAR contains

  1. *.dalf files for the project and all its dependencies
  2. The original DAML source code
  3. *.hi and *.hie files for each *.daml file
  4. Some meta-inf and config files

The first file is something like 7Composing-1.0.0-887056cbb313b94ab9a6caf34f7fe4fbfe19cb0c861e50d1594c665567ab7625.dalf which is the actual compiled package for the project. *.dalf files contain DAML-LF, which is DAML’s intermediate language. The file contents are a binary encoded protobuf message from the daml-lf schema. DAML-LF is evaluated on the Ledger by the DAML Engine, which is a JVM component that is part of tools like the IDE’s Script runner, the Sandbox, or proper production ledgers. If DAML-LF is to DAML what Java Bytecode is to Java, the DAML Engine is to DAML what the JVM is to Java.

Hashes and Identifiers

Under the heading “DAR archive contains the following packages:” you get a similar looking list of package names, paired with only the long random string repeated. That hexadecimal string, 887056cbb313b94ab9a6caf34f7fe4fbfe19cb0c861e50d1594c665567ab7625 in this case, is the package hash and the primary and only identifier for a package that’s guaranteed to be available and preserved. Meta information like name (“7Composing”) and version (“1.0.0”) help make it human readable but should not be relied upon. You may not always get DAR files from your compiler, but be loading them from a running Ledger, or get them from an artifact repository.

We can see this in action. When a DAR file gets deployed to a ledger, not all meta information is preserved.

  1. Note down your main package hash from running inspect-dar above
  2. Start the project using daml start
  3. Open a second terminal and run daml ledger fetch-dar --host localhost --port 6865 --main-package-id "887056cbb313b94ab9a6caf34f7fe4fbfe19cb0c861e50d1594c665567ab7625" -o assets_ledger.dar, making sure to replace the hash with the appropriate one.
  4. Run daml damlc inspect-dar assets_ledger.dar

You’ll notice two things. Firstly, a lot of the dependencies have lost their names, they are now only identifiable by hash. We could of course also create a second project 7Composing-1.0.0 with completely different contents so even when name and version are available, package hash is the only safe identifier.

That’s why over the Ledger API, all types, like templates and records are identified by the triple (entity name, module name, package hash). Your client application should know the package hashes it wants to interact with. To aid that, inspect-dar also provides a machine-readable format for the information it emits: daml damlc inspect-dar --json assets_ledger.dar. The main_package_id field in the resulting JSON payload is the package hash of our project.

Secondly, you’ll notice that all the *.daml, *.hi and *.hie files are gone. This leads us to data dependencies.

Dependencies and Data Dependencies

Dependencies under the daml.yaml dependencies group rely on the *.hi files. The information in these files is crucial for dependencies like the Standard Library, which provide functions, types and typeclasses.

However, as you can see above, this information isn’t preserved. Furthermore, preserving this information may not even be desireable. Imagine we had built 7Composing with SDK 1.100.0, and are building 8Dependencies with SDK 1.101.0. All the typeclasses and instances on the inbuilt types may have changed and are now present twice – once from the current SDK and once from the dependency. This gets messy fast, which is why the SDK does not support dependencies across SDK versions. For dependencies on contract models that were fetched from a ledger, or come from an older SDK version, there is a simpler kind of dependency called data-dependencies. The syntax for data-dependencies is the same, but they only rely on the “binary” *.dalf files. The name tries to confer that the main purpose of such dependencies is to handle data: Records, Choices, Templates. The stuff one needs to use contract composability across projects.

For an extension model like this one, data-dependencies are appropriate so the chapter 8 project incldues the chapter 7 that way.

  - daml-script
  - ../7Composing/assets.dar

You’ll notice a module Test.Intro.Asset.TradeSetup, which is almost a carbon copy of the Chapter 7 trade setup Scripts. data-dependencies is designed to use existing contracts and data types. DAML Script is not imported. In practice, we also shouldn’t expect that the DAR file we download from the ledger using daml ledger fetch-dar contains test scripts. For larger projects it’s good practice to keep them separate and only deploy templates to the ledger.

Structuring Projects

As you’ve seen here, identifiers depend on the package as a whole and packages always bring all their dependencies with them. Thus changing anything in a complex dependency graph can have significant repercussions. It is therefore advisable to keep dependency graphs simple, and to separate concerns which are likely to change at different rates into separate packages.

For example, in all our projects in this intro, including this chapter, our scripts are in the same project as our templates. In practice, that means changing a test changes all identifiers, which is not desireable. It’s better for maintainability to separate tests from main templates. If we had done that in chapter 7, that would also have saved us from copying the chapter 7

Similarly, we included Trade in the same project as Asset in chapter 7, even though Trade is a pure extension to the core Asset model. If we expect Trade to need more frequent changes, it may be a good idea to split it out into a separate project from the start.

Next up

The MultiTrade model has more complex control flow and data handling than previous models. In 9 Functional Programming 101 you’ll learn how to write more advanced logic: control flow, folds, common typeclasses, custom functions, and the Standard Library. We’ll be using the same projects so don’t delete your chapter 7 and 8 folders just yet.