Reference: Templates

This page gives reference information on templates:

For the structure of a template, see Overview: Template Structure.

Template Name

template NameOfTemplate
  • This is the name of the template. It’s preceded by template keyword. Must begin with a capital letter.
  • This is the highest level of nesting.
  • The name is used when creating a contract of this template (usually, from within a choice).

Template Parameters

    exampleParty : Party
    exampleParty2 : Party
    exampleParty3 : Party
    exampleParam : Text
    -- more parameters here
  • with keyword. The parameters are in the form of a record type.
  • Passed in when creating a contract from this template. These are then in scope inside the template body.
  • A template parameter can’t have the same name as any choice arguments inside the template.
  • For all parties involved in the contract (whether they’re a signatory, observer, or controller) you must pass them in as parameters to the contract, whether individually or as a list ([Party]).

Implicit Record

Whenever a template is defined, a record is implicitly defined with the same name and fields as that template. This record structure is used in Daml code to represent the data of a contract based on that template.

Note that in the general case, the existence of a local binding b of type T, where T is a template (and thus also a record), does not necessarily imply the existence of a contract with the same data as b on the ledger. You can only assume the existence of such a contract if b is the result of a fetch from the ledger within the same transaction.

You can create a new instance of a record of type T without any interaction with the ledger; in fact, this is how you construct a create command.

this and self

Within the body of a template we implicitly define a local binding this to represent the data of the current contract. For a template T, this binding is of type T, i.e. the implicit record defined by the template.

Within choices, you can additionally use the binding self to refer to the contract ID of the current contract (the one on which the choice is being executed). For a contract of template T, the self binding is of type ContractId T.

Template-local Definitions

      allParties = [exampleParty, exampleParty2, exampleParty3]
  • let keyword. Starts a block and is followed by any number of definitions, just like any other let block.
  • Template parameters as well as this are in scope, but self is not.
  • Definitions from the let block can be used anywhere else in the template’s where block.


Some uses of the this keyword in template-local definitions can cause an infinite loop of evaluation as a circular dependency arises. Hence any usage of:

  • key this
  • observer this
  • signatory this
  • interface methods applied to this

in a template-local let definition will result in an error generated by the infinite loop.

Signatory Parties

    signatory exampleParty
  • signatory keyword. After where. Followed by at least one Party.

  • Signatories are the parties (see the Party type) who must consent to the creation of this contract. They are the parties who would be put into an obligable position when this contract is created.

    Daml won’t let you put someone into an obligable position without their consent. So if the contract will cause obligations for a party, they must be a signatory. If they haven’t authorized it, you won’t be able to create the contract. In this situation, you may see errors like:

    NameOfTemplate requires authorizers Party1,Party2,Party, but only Party1 were given.

  • When a signatory consents to the contract creation, this means they also authorize the consequences of choices that can be exercised on this contract.

  • The contract is visible to all signatories (as well as the other stakeholders of the contract). That is, the compiler automatically adds signatories as observers.

  • Each template must have at least one signatory. A signatory declaration consists of the signatory keyword followed by a comma-separated list of one or more expressions, each expression denoting a Party or collection thereof.


    observer exampleParty2
  • observer keyword. After where. Followed by at least one Party.
  • Observers are additional stakeholders, so the contract is visible to these parties (see the Party type).
  • Optional. You can have many, either as a comma-separated list or reusing the keyword. You could pass in a list (of type [Party]).
  • Use when a party needs visibility on a contract, or be informed or contract events, but is not a signatory or controller.
  • If you start your choice with choice rather than controller (see Choices below), you must make sure to add any potential controller as an observer. Otherwise, they will not be able to exercise the choice, because they won’t be able to see the contract.


    -- option 1 for specifying choices: choice name first
    choice NameOfChoice1
      : ()  -- replace () with the actual return type
        exampleParameter : Text -- parameters here
      controller exampleParty
        return () -- replace this line with the choice body

    -- option 2 for specifying choices (deprecated syntax): controller first
    controller exampleParty can
        : () -- replace () with the actual return type
          exampleParameter : Text -- parameters here
          return () -- replace this line with the choice body
      nonconsuming NameOfChoice3
        : ()  -- replace () with the actual return type
          exampleParameter : Text -- parameters here
          return () -- replace this line with the choice body
  • A right that the contract gives the controlling party. Can be exercised.

  • This is essentially where all the logic of the template goes.

  • By default, choices are consuming: that is, exercising the choice archives the contract, so no further choices can be exercised on it. You can make a choice non-consuming using the nonconsuming keyword.

  • There are two ways of specifying a choice: start with the choice keyword or start with the controller keyword.

    Starting with choice lets you pass in a Party to use as a controller. But you must make sure to add that party as an observer.

  • See Reference: Choices for full reference information.

Serializable Types

Every parameter to a template, choice argument, and choice result must have a serializable type. This does not merely mean “convertible to bytes”; it has a specific meaning in Daml. The serializability rule serves three purposes:

  1. Offer a stable means to store ledger values permanently.
  2. Provide a sensible encoding of them over The Ledger API.
  3. Provide sensible types that directly match their Daml counterparts in languages like Java for language codegen.

For example, certain kinds of type parameters Daml offers are compatible with (1) and (2), but have no proper counterpart in (3), so they are disallowed. Similarly, function types have sensible Java counterparts, satisfying (3), but no reliable way to store or share them via the API, thus failing (1) and (2).

The following types are not serializable, and thus may not be used in templates.

  • Function types.
  • Record types with any non-serializable field.
  • Variant types with any non-serializable value case.
  • Variant and enum types with no constructors.
  • References to a parameterized data type with any non-serializable type argument. This applies whether or not the data type definition uses the type parameter.
  • Defined data types with any type parameter of kind Nat, or any kind other than *. This means higher-kinded types, and types that take a parameter just to pass to Numeric, are not serializable.


      -- text representing the contract
  • agreement keyword, followed by text.

  • Represents what the contract means in text. They’re usually the boundary between on-ledger and off-ledger rights and obligations.

  • Usually, they look like agreement tx, where tx is of type Text.

    You can use the built-in operator show to convert party names to a string, and concatenate with <> .


      True -- a boolean condition goes here
  • ensure keyword, followed by a boolean condition.
  • Used on contract creation. ensure limits the values on parameters that can be passed to the contract: the contract can only be created if the boolean condition is true.

Contract Keys and Maintainers

    key (exampleParty, exampleParam) : (Party, Text)
    maintainer (exampleFunction key)
  • key and maintainer keywords.

  • This feature lets you specify a “key” that you can use to uniquely identify this contract as an instance of this template.

  • If you specify a key, you must also specify a maintainer. This is a Party that will ensure the uniqueness of all the keys it is aware of.

    Because of this, the key must include the maintainer Party or parties (for example, as part of a tuple or record), and the maintainer must be a signatory.

  • For a full explanation, see Reference: Contract Keys.

Interface Instances

    interface instance MyInterface for NameOfTemplate where
      view = MyInterfaceViewType "NameOfTemplate" 100
      method1 = field1
      method2 = field2
      method3 False _ _ = 0
      method3 True x y
        | x > 0 = x + y
        | otherwise = y
  • Used to make a template an instance of an existing interface.
  • The clause must start with the keywords interface instance, followed by the name of the interface, then the keyword for and the name of the template (which must match the enclosing declaration), and finally the keyword where, which introduces a block where all the methods of the interface must be implemented.
  • See Reference: Interfaces for full reference information on interfaces, or section Interface Instances for interface instances specifically.