SDK Assistant

The SDK Assistant is a command-line tool designed to help you interact with the DAML SDK. It includes commands to help you create projects, run other SDK tools, install and upgrade SDK releases, and view documentation.

Installing the SDK Assistant

Refer to Installing the SDK for instructions on how to install the SDK Assistant.

All general SDK Assistant files are stored in ~/.da/. This folder contains the da binary itself, a global SDK configuration file called da.yaml, and the downloaded SDK releases and related packages. On installation, the SDK Assistant will attempt to set up a symlink in /usr/local/bin.

Understanding the SDK Assistant

The SDK Assistant is designed to make DAML development as easy and enjoyable as possible by helping with two key tasks:

  • Initializing DAML SDK projects so you can use development tools for project-specific application code. All SDK development should be confined within a DAML SDK project.
  • Managing DAML SDK releases from Digital Asset by periodically checking for updates. When an update is available, it is automatically downloaded and installed, keeping your SDK instance up to date. SDK releases contain development tools and libraries – the DAML compiler, the DAML Studio IDE, and a DAML ledger, for example.


Because the SDK Assistant controls SDK releases and related tools, it can manage several versions of a tool and ensure that it uses the version compatible with the active project and other running tools. See Managing SDK releases.

Using the SDK Assistant

The SDK Assistant is invoked with the da command in a terminal. If you do not add any arguments to the command, it will default to display a status message.

Use the da --help command to display a list of valid options and commands:

da --help

SDK Assistant - Version

Usage: da [-c|--config FILENAME] [-l|--log-level debug|info|warn|error]
          [--script] [--term-width ARG] [COMMAND]
  SDK Assistant. Use --help for help.

Available options:
  -h,--help                Show this help text
  -c,--config FILENAME     Specify what config file to use.
  -l,--log-level debug|info|warn|error
                           Set the log level. Default is 'warn'.
  --script                 Script mode -- skip auto-upgrades and similar.
  --term-width ARG         Rendering width of the terminal.
  -v,--version             Show version and exit

Available commands:
  status                   Show SDK environment overview
  docs                     Show SDK documentation
  new                      Create a new project from template
  add                      Add a template to the current project
  project                  Manage DAML SDK projects
  template                 Manage DAML SDK templates
  upgrade                  Upgrade to latest SDK version
  list                     List installed SDK versions
  use                      Set the default SDK version, downloading it if
  uninstall                Remove DAML SDK versions or the complete DAML SDK
  start                    Start a given service
  restart                  Restart a given service
  stop                     Stop a given service
  feedback                 Send us feedback!
  studio                   Start DAML Studio in the current project
  navigator                Start Navigator (also runs Sandbox if needed)
  sandbox                  Start Sandbox process in current project
  compile                  Compile a DAML project into a DAR package
  path                     Show the filesystem path of an SDK component
  run                      Run the main executable of a package
  setup                    Set up SDK environment (e.g. on install or upgrade)
  subscribe                Subscribe for a namespace (of the template
  unsubscribe              Unsubscribe from a namespace (of the template
  config-help              Show config-file help
  config                   Query and manage configuration
  changelog                Show the changelog of an SDK version
  update-info              Show SDK Assistant update channel information

To get help for a particular command, use this command:

da <command> --help


da new --help

Usage: da new PROJECT_PATH
  Create a new project

Available options:
  -h,--help                Show this help text
  PROJECT_PATH             Path to the new project. Name of the last folder will
                           be the name of the new project.

Developing with the SDK Assistant

To begin, create a new DAML SDK project using the SDK Assistant. A project consists of a folder with a valid da.yaml file that, among other things, specifies which SDK release is being used. This is important because the release determines which versions of DAML and the DAML Sandbox the project code uses.

In the SDK Assistant, create a DA project with this command:

da new <project_path>


da new my-project

This example creates a project folder called my-project folder that is seeded with a basic folder structure.

Change to the new project directory.


cd my-project

In the project folder, use SDK Assistant functions. For example, if you have Visual Studio Code installed, open DAML Studio for your project using:

da studio

Use the following command to start the DAML Sandbox and the Navigator against the current project’s DAML code:

da start

These services will run in the background. To see a list of running services, use this command:

da status

To stop any running services of the current project:

da stop

To restart:

da restart

The current SDK functionality is still basic. Future releases will improve and extend the current functionality and features to help you develop automation, UIs, and other types of functionality on top of your DAML application.

Building DAML archives

The SDK Assistant can compile your DAML source code into a DAML archive (a .dar file). To do this, run:

da compile

This will compile the source code file set in your da.yaml configuration file (see Configuring compilation) and generate a .dar file in the directory target with the same name as your project.

Managing SDK releases

The SDK Assistant will automatically check for updates and upgrade itself if there is a new version. This means that you will always have the latest version.

If you are working on several projects that have code that assumes different tool and component versions, you will need to have several SDK releases installed at the same time. Having different SDK releases available ensures all your projects will work without your having to upgrade all of them to use the latest libraries and tools. The SDK Assistant has commands for managing several SDK releases.

  • The active release is the one that is currently in use. For example, each DAML SDK project specifies the SDK release to use. When you are in a project, the specified release is the active one.
  • The default release is the one that will be used when you start a new project or in other cases when an SDK release is needed and you are not in a project.

To list all installed SDK releases and see which are active and which is the default, use this command:

da list

To change the default release:

da use <release-version>

To upgrade to the latest SDK release manually:

da upgrade

To remove unused old releases:

da uninstall <release-version>

Managing SDK templates

You can use the SDK Assistant to subscribe to templates, which are stored under a specific namespace. Often these are DAML templates, but not all of them are. There are two types of template:

  • Project templates, which are the starting point for a full project. These give you a folder with its own da.yaml file.
  • Add-on templates, which are the starting point for a sub-project. These give you a folder that lives inside a DAML SDK project folder. Add-on templates are not always DAML templates.

The Assistant comes with several DAML templates that are pre-made example modules, which show advanced uses of DAML and provide useful library functions.

To list available project templates, run:

da new

To list available add-on templates, run:

da add


da new and da add may show undocumented or unsupported templates.

To subscribe to a namespace (so you can access the template inside it), run:

da subscribe <namespace>

To unsubscribe (remove from the list of namespaces which are checked if the listing commands are executed), run:

da unsubscribe <namespace>

Once you’ve subscribed to a project template’s namespace, you can start a new project from the project template:

da new <namespace>/<project-template-name> <project-path>

Once you’ve subscribed to an add-on template’s namespace, you can add the add-on template to your project:

da add <namespace>/<add-on-template-name> <target-folder>

For DAML templates, the new DAML files are added to your project inside the daml folder. To use them in your project, you need to add references to these files in the daml/Main.daml file with import statements. This is not done automatically.

Running SDK tools

The SDK also comes with some packages that you can run and that can serve as important tools in the development of the project. You can run an executable package with the following command:

da run <package> [-- ARGS]

If you run the command above without the package argument, it will display a message saying that the package is missing and will show a list of all the available packages. The available packages currently are damlc and navigator.

The damlc package is a DAML compiler tool. The compiler functionality is currently intended only for internal use, so it is not described in this documentation.

The navigator package contains a browser-based tool that can also be used to interact with the ledger and is described in Navigator.

da.yaml configuration

The SDK Assistant uses a configuration file – da.yaml– that includes both global configuration and project configuration information. The SDK Assistant global da.yaml file is located in the SDK Assistant home folder (~/.da/). Project configuration in this file is ignored. Each project also has a da.yaml file, which specifies project configuration and can also override global configuration properties. To list the properties that can be specified in the configuration file, use this command:

da config-help

Configuring parties

Some tools, like the Navigator, require parties to be configured before it is started. When using the SDK Assistant to start such services, configure parties in the da.yaml file for the project. The project.parties property takes a list of strings. For example:

  sdk-version: '0.6.0'
  scenario: Main:example
  name: my-project
  source: daml/Main.daml
  - BANK1
  - BANK2
  - '007'

This can also be formatted in YAML as:

  sdk-version: '0.6.0'
  scenario: Main:example
  name: my-project
  source: daml/Main.daml
  parties: ["OPERATOR", "BANK1", "BANK2", "007"]

Configuring compilation

DAML compilation is configured with the following project variables:
The name of the project.
The path to the source code.
The directory to store generated .dar files, the default is target.

The generated .dar file will be stored in ${project.output-path}/${}.dar.

Uninstalling DAML SDK

If for any reason the DAML SDK needs to be removed use:

da uninstall all

This command will ask for confirmation and remove the complete DAML SDK home folder (~/.da/) and the da symlink in /usr/local/bin created upon installation.