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Lisk SDK

What is the Alpha SDK?

The Alpha SDK aims to provide an easy and reliable way to build blockchain applications compatible with the Lisk Protocol. The architecture of our SDK has been designed so that it can be extended to meet the requirements of a wide variety of blockchain use cases.

The codebase is written entirely in JavaScript, which means for a majority of developers, no significant change of tools is required to get started. The Lisk SDK makes every effort to allow developers to focus simply and purely on writing the code that matters to their own blockchain application, and nothing more.

Mostly Harmless

Please read this carefully. The current version of the SDK is the alpha release of the Lisk SDK. We strongly discourage anyone from using the Alpha SDK for any production-based blockchain applications, i.e. a blockchain operating on a real mainnet. We have released the Lisk SDK in its current form in order for us to improve the development experience through community feedback and contributions.

Over the course of the Alpha SDK's development there will be significant changes in the Lisk protocol and implementation, which will eventually bring accessibility and reliability to a level which is feasible for production-based blockchain applications. At this time we only recommend the Lisk SDK for proof-of-concept blockchain applications, i.e. a blockchain operating on a fake testnet.

Be aware that the dummy delegate accounts are insecure, as their secret passphrases are public. In addition, the convenient creation of a new genesis block is not supported by the Alpha SDK. The only application built using the Lisk SDK currently feasible for production usage is Lisk Core, the client of the Lisk network itself.

Please be advised that we cannot guarantee blockchains created with the Alpha SDK will remain compatible with our planned (beta/rc) releases. We hope you enjoy building your proof-of-concept blockchain applications using the Lisk SDK and look forward to receiving your feedback and contributions.

Package Directories

Directory Description
Framework The application framework establishes and maintains the interactions between the modules of a Lisk blockchain application.
Elements A collection of libraries, each of them implementing some form of blockchain application functionality such as cryptography, transactions, p2p, etc.
Commander A command line tool which allows developers to manage a Lisk node instance and interact with a Lisk compatible network.

SDK Usage


Before running Lisk SDK, the following dependencies need to be installed in order to run applications created with the Lisk SDK:

Dependencies Version
NodeJS 10.15.3
PostgreSQL 10+
Redis (optional) 5+
Python 2

You can find further details on installing these dependencies in our pre-installation setup guide.

Mind, that you need to create a database before. The default database name is lisk_dev, so for the development purposes, a command createdb lisk_dev will set you up.
The default database user and password are lisk and password, they can be both changed in the configuration of Lisk SDK.


The installation of Lisk Alpha SDK is straightforward and limited to getting a single NPM package, lisk-sdk, to your Node.js project:

npm install lisk-sdk

Lisk SDK is all-in-one package that provides you with tools to create, run and maintain blockchain applications in JavaScript.

In case you only need some specific functionality, it is possible to install only the relevant package, e.g.:

npm install lisk-commmander # install Lisk Commander
npm install lisk-elements # install Lisk Elements
npm install @liskhq/lisk-transactions # install Lisk Elements Transactions Package
npm install @liskhq/lisk-cryptography # install Lisk Elements Cryptography Package

Set up a new blockchain application

To start, create the project structure of your blockchain application. Then install the Lisk SDK dependencies and the Lisk SDK afterwards.

npm init
npm install --save lisk-sdk # make sure you installed the dependencies of lisk-sdk beforehand

To create a blockchain application, you need to provide an entry point of your application (like index.js) and set-up your network by using the modules of Lisk SDK.

It is quite simple to have a working blockchain application, mirroring the configuration of the existing Lisk network. This can be done by copying the following three lines of code to your index.js:

const { Application, genesisBlockDevnet, configDevnet} = require('lisk-sdk'); // require the lisk-sdk package

const app = new Application(genesisBlockDevnet, configDevnet); // create a new application with default genesis block for a local devnet // start the application
   .then(() =>'App started...')) // code that is executed after the successful start of the application.
   .catch(error => { // code that is executed if the application start fails.
        console.error('Faced error in application', error);

Now, save and close index.js and try to start your newly created blockchain application by running:

node index.js | npx bunyan -o short # start the application

node index.js will start the node, and | npx bunyan -o short will pretty-print the logs in the console.

This should start the application with the predefined default configurations, which will connect your app to a local devnet.
From this point, you can start to configure and customize the application further.

For more detailed explanations, check out the getting started sections for building blockchain applications and the example applications, which describe the process of creating a blockchain application step-by-step.

Configure your blockchain parameters

You can also define your blockchain application parameters such as BLOCK_TIME, EPOCH_TIME, MAX_TRANSACTIONS_PER_BLOCK and more with an optional configurations object.

const app = new Application(genesisBlockDevnet, {
    app: {
        label: 'my-blockchain-application',
        minVersion: '0.0.2',
        version: '2.3.4',
        protocolVersion: '4.1',
        genesisConfig: {
            EPOCH_TIME: new Date(Date.UTC(2016, 4, 24, 17, 0, 0, 0)).toISOString(),
            BLOCK_TIME: 10,

See the complete list of configuration options.

Register a custom transaction

You can define your own transaction types with Lisk-SDK.
This is where the custom logic for your blockchain application lives.

Add your custom transaction type to your blockchain application by registering it to the application instance:

const { Application, genesisBlockDevnet, configDevnet } = require('lisk-sdk');

const MyTransaction = require('./my_transaction');

const app = new Application(genesisBlockDevnet, configDevnet);

app.registerTransaction(MyTransaction); // register the custom transaction

    .then(() =>'App started...'))
    .catch(error => {
        console.error('Faced error in application', error);

For information on creating your own custom transaction, see the customize page or follow the tutorials.

SDK Architecture Overview

The Lisk SDK operates on the NodeJS runtime and consists primarily of an application framework (Lisk Framework), a collection of libraries providing blockchain application functionalities (Lisk Elements), and a powerful Command Line Interface (Lisk Commander) which allows developers to manage a Lisk node instance and interact with a Lisk compatible network.
The diagram below provides a high-level overview of the architecture:

Get Involved

How Where
Introduce yourself to our community Lisk Discord
Report a bug Open a new issue on GitHub
Report a security issue View Bug Bounty Program
Discuss technical research Research Forum
Build with Lisk Create a fork on GitHub

By using the Alpha release of the Lisk SDK, you acknowledge and agree that you have an adequate understanding of the risks associated with the use of the Alpha release of the Lisk SDK and that it is provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis, without any representations or warranties of any kind.

To the fullest extent permitted by law, in no event shall the Lisk Foundation or other parties involved in the development of the Alpha release of the Lisk SDK have any liability whatsoever to any person for any direct or indirect loss, liability, cost, claim, expense or damage of any kind, whether in contract or in tort, including negligence, or otherwise, arising out of or related to the use of all or part of the Alpha release of the Lisk SDK.

What's next?