Your First Feature

Let’s dive into implementing a new feature for our social network app. This will give us a better idea how to develop DAML applications using our template.

At the moment, our app lets us add friends to our network, but we have no way to communicate with them! Let’s fix that by adding a private messaging feature. This should let a user send messages to any chosen friend, and see all messages that have been sent to them.

This feature should also respect authorization and privacy. This means:

  1. You cannot send a message to someone unless they have given you the authority by adding you as a friend.
  2. You cannot see a message unless you sent it or it was sent to you.

We will see that DAML lets us implement these guarantees in a direct and intuitive way.

There are two parts to building the messaging feature: the DAML model and the UI. As usual, we must start with the DAML model and base our UI changes on top of that.

DAML Changes

As mentioned in the architecture section, the DAML code defines the data and workflow of the application. The workflow aspect refers to the interactions between parties that are permitted by the system. In the context of a messaging feature, these are essentially the authorization and privacy concerns listed above.

For the authorization part, we take the following approach: a user Bob can message another user Alice exactly when Alice has added Bob as a friend. When Alice adds Bob as a friend, she gives permission or authority to Bob to send her a message. It is important to remember that friendships can go in a single direction in our app. This means its possible for Bob to message Alice without Alice being able to message him back!

To implement this workflow, let’s start by adding the new data for messages. Navigate to the daml/User.daml file and copy the following Message template to the bottom. (Indentation is important: it should be at the top level like the original User template.)

template Message with
    sender: Party
    receiver: Party
    content: Text
    signatory sender, receiver

This template is very simple: it contains the data for a message and no choices. The interesting part is the signatory clause: both the sender and receiver are signatories on the template. This enforces the fact that creation and archival of Message contracts must be authorized by both parties.

Now we can add messaging into the workflow by adding a new choice to the User template. Copy the following choice to the User template after the AddFriend choice. (Make sure the indentation matches AddFriend.)

    nonconsuming choice SendMessage: ContractId Message with
        sender: Party
        content: Text
      controller sender
        assertMsg "You must be a friend to send a message" (elem sender friends)
        create Message with sender, receiver = username, content

As with the AddFriend choice, there are a few aspects to note here.

  • The choice is nonconsuming because sending a message should not archive the User contract.
  • By convention, the choice returns the ContractId of the resulting Message contract.
  • The parameters to the choice are the sender and content of this message; the receiver is the party named on this User contract.
  • The controller clause suggests that it is the sender who can exercise the choice.
  • The body of the choice first ensures that the sender is a friend of the user and then creates the Message contract with the receiver being the signatory of the User contract.

This completes the workflow for messaging in our app. Now let’s integrate this functionality into the UI.

TypeScript Code Generation

Remember that we interface with the DAML model from the UI components using generated TypeScript. Since we have changed our DAML code, we also need to rerun the TypeScript code generator. Let’s do this by running:

daml build
daml codegen ts .daml/dist/create-daml-app-0.1.0.dar -o daml-ts/src

As the TypeScript code is generated into the separate daml-ts workspace which the UI depends on, we need to rebuild the workspaces from the root create-daml-app folder using:

yarn workspaces run build

We should now have an up-to-date TypeScript interface to our DAML model, in particular to the Message template and SendMessage choice.

We can now implement our messaging feature in the UI!

Messaging UI

The UI for messaging will consist of a new Messages panel in addition to the Friends and Network panel. This panel will have two parts:

  1. A list of messages you’ve received with their senders.
  2. A form with a dropdown menu for friend selection and a text field for composing the message.

We will implement each part as a React component, which we’ll name MessageList and MessageEdit respectively. Let’s start with the simpler MessageList.

MessageList Component

The goal of the MessageList component is to query all Message contracts where the receiver is the current user, and display their contents and senders in a list. The entire component is shown below. You should copy this into a new MessageList.tsx file in ui/src/components.

import React from 'react'
import { List, ListItem } from 'semantic-ui-react';
import { Message } from '@daml2ts/create-daml-app/lib/create-daml-app-0.1.0/User';
import { useParty, useStreamQuery } from '@daml/react';

 * React component displaying the list of messages for the current user.
const MessageList: React.FC = () => {
  const username = useParty();
  const messagesResult = useStreamQuery(Message, () => ({receiver: username}), []);
  const messages = => message.payload);

  const showMessage = (message: Message): string => {
    return (message.sender + ": " + message.content);

  return (
    <List relaxed>
      { => <ListItem>{showMessage(message)}</ListItem>)}

export default MessageList;

First we get the username of the current user with the useParty hook. Then messagesResult gets the stream of all Message contracts where the receiver is our username. The streaming aspect means that we don’t need to reload the page when new messages come in. We extract the payload of every Message contract (the data as opposed to metadata like the contract ID) in messages. The rest of the component simply constructs a React List element with an item for each message.

There is one important point about privacy here. No matter how we write our Message query in the UI code, it is impossible to break the privacy rules given by the DAML model. That is, it is impossible to see a Message contract of which you are not the sender or the receiver (the only parties that can observe the contract). This is a major benefit of writing apps on DAML: the burden of ensuring privacy and authorization is confined to the DAML model.

MessageEdit Component

Next we need the MessageEdit component to compose and send messages to selected friends. Again we show the entire component here; you should copy this into a new MessageEdit.tsx file in ui/src/components.

import React from 'react'
import { Form, Button } from 'semantic-ui-react';
import { Party } from '@daml/types';
import { User } from '@daml2ts/create-daml-app/lib/create-daml-app-0.1.0/User';
import { useParty, useExerciseByKey } from '@daml/react';

type Props = {
  friends: Party[];

 * React component to edit a message to send to a friend.
const MessageEdit: React.FC<Props> = ({friends}) => {
  const sender = useParty();
  const [receiver, setReceiver] = React.useState('');
  const [content, setContent] = React.useState('');
  const [isSubmitting, setIsSubmitting] = React.useState(false);
  const [exerciseSendMessage] = useExerciseByKey(User.SendMessage);

  const sendMessage = async (receiver: string, content: string): Promise<boolean> => {
    try {
      await exerciseSendMessage(receiver, {sender, content});
      return true;
    } catch (error) {
      alert("Error sending message:\n" + JSON.stringify(error));
      return false;

  const submitMessage = async (event?: React.FormEvent) => {
    if (event) {
    const success = await sendMessage(receiver, content);
    if (success) {
      // Keep the receiver selected for follow-on messages
      // but clear the message text.

  // Options for dropdown menu
  const friendOptions = => ({ key: f, text: f, value: f }));

  return (
    <Form onSubmit={submitMessage}>
        placeholder='Select friend'
        onChange={(event) => setReceiver(event.currentTarget.textContent ?? '')}
        placeholder="Write a message"
        onChange={(event) => setContent(event.currentTarget.value)}
      <Button type="submit">Send</Button>

export default MessageEdit;

You will first notice a Props type near the top of the file with a single friends field. A prop in React is an input to a component; in this case a list of users from which to select the message receiver. The prop will be passed down from the MainView component, reusing the work required to query users from the ledger. You can see this friends field bound at the start of the MessageEdit component.

We use the React useState hook to get and set the current choices of message receiver and content. The DAML-specific useExerciseByKey hook gives us a function to both look up a User contract and exercise the SendMessage choice on it. The call to exerciseSendMessage in sendMessage looks up the User contract with the receiver’s username and exercises SendMessage with the appropriate arguments. The sendMessage wrapper reports potential errors to the user, and submitMessage additionally uses the isSubmitting state to ensure message requests are processed one at a time. The result of a successful call to submitMessage is a new Message contract created on the ledger.

The return value of this component is the React Form element. This contains a dropdown menu to select a receiver from the friends, a text field for the message content, and a Send button which triggers submitMessage.

There is again an important point here, in this case about how authorization is enforced. Due to the logic of the SendMessage choice, it is impossible to send a message to a user who has not added you as a friend (even if you could somehow access their User contract). The assertion that elem sender friends in SendMessage ensures this: no mistake or malice by the UI programmer could breach this.

MainView Component

Finally we can see these components come together in the MainView component. We want to add a new panel to house our messaging UI. Open the ui/src/components/MainView.tsx file and start by adding imports for the two new components.

import MessageEdit from './MessageEdit';
import MessageList from './MessageList';

Next, find where the Network Segment closes, towards the end of the component. This is where we’ll add a new Segment for Messages.

              <Header as='h2'>
                <Icon name='pencil square' />
                  <Header.Subheader>Send a message to a friend</Header.Subheader>
                friends={ => user.username)}
              <Divider />
              <MessageList />

You can see we simply follow the formatting of the previous panels and include the new messaging components: MessageEdit supplied with the usernames of all visible parties as props, and MessageList to display all messages.

That is all for the implementation! Let’s give the new functionality a spin.

Running the New App

To start up the new app, open up your terminal application. First make sure your previously run commands are terminated, in particular the command. You can do this by hitting Ctrl-C in the terminal window where you ran the command. This shuts down the previous instances of the sandbox and JSON API server: it is important that we start our new app with new instances of these components.

Having done that, first restart the DAML sandbox and JSON API server in the root create-daml-app folder:


Then in another terminal window, change to the ui folder and restart the application:

cd ui
yarn start

You should see the same login page as before at http://localhost:3000. Once you’ve logged in, you’ll see a familiar UI but with our new Messages panel at the bottom! Go ahead and add some friends, and log in as some of those friends in separate browser windows to add yourself back. Then, if you click on the dropdown menu in the Messages panel, you’ll be able to see some friends to message! Send some messages between friends and make sure you can see each one from the other side. You’ll notice that new messages appear in the UI as soon as they are sent (due to the streaming React hooks).

Next Steps

We’ve gone through the process of setting up a full-stack DAML app and implementing a useful feature end to end. Have a think about how you might further improve or extend this app. For example, you might have noticed that your list of messages can get out of order. You could add a timestamp to the Message template and sort messages in the MessageList component so your most recent are at the top. Of course there are many more features you could imagine (just think of your favourite social media app).

Hopefully this exercise gives you a sense of the power and ease of building DAML apps. Explore the documentation to learn more, and keep shipping DAML apps. Have fun!