Node shell

The Corda shell is an embedded or standalone command line that allows an administrator to control and monitor a node. It is based on the CRaSH shell and supports many of the same features. These features include:

  • Invoking any of the node’s RPC methods
  • Viewing a dashboard of threads, heap usage, VM properties
  • Uploading and downloading attachments
  • Issuing SQL queries to the underlying database
  • Viewing JMX metrics and monitoring exports
  • UNIX style pipes for both text and objects, an egrep command and a command for working with columnar data
  • Shutting the node down.


When accessing the shell (embedded, standalone, via SSH) RPC permissions are required. This is because the shell actually communicates with the node using RPC calls.

  • Watching flows (flow watch) requires InvokeRpc.stateMachinesFeed.
  • Starting flows requires InvokeRpc.startTrackedFlowDynamic, InvokeRpc.registeredFlows and InvokeRpc.wellKnownPartyFromX500Name, as well as a permission for the flow being started.
  • Killing flows (flow kill) requires InvokeRpc.killFlow. This currently allows the user to kill any flow, so please be careful when granting it!

The shell via the local terminal

The shell will display in the node’s terminal window. It connects to the node as ‘shell’ user with password ‘shell’ (which is only available in dev mode). It may be disabled by passing the --no-local-shell flag when running the node.

The shell via SSH

The shell is also accessible via SSH.

Enabling SSH access

By default, the SSH server is disabled. To enable it, a port must be configured in the node’s node.conf file:

sshd {
    port = 2222


Users log in to shell via SSH using the same credentials as for RPC. No RPC permissions are required to allow the connection and log in.

The host key is loaded from the <node root directory>/sshkey/hostkey.pem file. If this file does not exist, it is generated automatically. In development mode, the seed may be specified to give the same results on the same computer in order to avoid host-checking errors.

Connecting to the shell

Linux and MacOS

Run the following command from the terminal:

ssh -p [portNumber] [host] -l [user]


  • [portNumber] is the port number specified in the node.conf file
  • [host] is the node’s host (e.g. localhost if running the node locally)
  • [user] is the RPC username

The RPC password will be requested after a connection is established.


Windows does not provide a built-in SSH tool. An alternative such as PuTTY should be used.

The standalone shell

The standalone shell is a standalone application interacting with a Corda node via RPC calls. RPC node permissions are necessary for authentication and authorisation. Certain operations, such as starting flows, require access to CordApps jars.

Starting the standalone shell

Run the following command from the terminal:

corda-shell [-hvV] [--logging-level=<loggingLevel>] [--password=<password>]
            [--sshd-port=<sshdPort>] [--truststore-file=<trustStoreFile>]
            [--truststore-type=<trustStoreType>] [--user=<user>] [-a=<host>]
            [-c=<cordappDirectory>] [-f=<configFile>] [-o=<commandsDirectory>]
            [-p=<port>] [COMMAND]


  • --config-file=<configFile>, --f The path to the shell configuration file, used instead of providing the rest of the command line options.
  • --cordapp-directory=<cordappDirectory>, -c The path to the directory containing CorDapp jars, CorDapps are required when starting flows.
  • --commands-directory=<commandsDirectory>, -o The path to the directory containing additional CRaSH shell commands.
  • --host, -a: The host address of the Corda node.
  • --port, -p: The RPC port of the Corda node.
  • --user=<user>: The RPC user name.
  • --password=<password> The RPC user password. If not provided it will be prompted for on startup.
  • --sshd-port=<sshdPort> Enables SSH server for shell.
  • --sshd-hostkey-directory=<sshHostKeyDirectory: The directory containing the hostkey.pem file for the SSH server.
  • --truststore-password=<trustStorePassword>: The password to unlock the TrustStore file.
  • --truststore-file=<trustStoreFile>: The path to the TrustStore file.
  • --truststore-type=<trustStoreType>: The type of the TrustStore (e.g. JKS).
  • --verbose, --log-to-console, -v: If set, prints logging to the console as well as to a file.
  • --logging-level=<loggingLevel>: Enable logging at this level and higher. Possible values: ERROR, WARN, INFO, DEBUG, TRACE. Default: INFO.
  • --help, -h: Show this help message and exit.
  • --version, -V: Print version information and exit.

Additionally, the install-shell-extensions subcommand can be used to install the corda-shell alias and auto completion for bash and zsh. See Shell extensions for CLI Applications for more info.

The format of config-file:

node {
    addresses {
        rpc {
            host : "localhost"
            port : 10006
    user : demo
    password : demo
shell {
        workDir : /path/to/dir
extensions {
    cordapps {
        path : /path/to/cordapps/dir
    sshd {
        enabled : "false"
        port : 2223
ssl {
    keystore {
        path: "/path/to/keystore"
        type: "JKS"
        password: password
    trustore {
        path: "/path/to/trusttore"
        type: "JKS"
        password: password

Standalone Shell via SSH

The standalone shell can embed an SSH server which redirects interactions via RPC calls to the Corda node. To run SSH server use --sshd-port option when starting standalone shell or extensions.sshd entry in the configuration file. For connection to SSH refer to Connecting to the shell . Certain operations (like starting Flows) will require Shell’s --cordpass-directory to be configured correctly (see Starting the standalone shell ).

Interacting with the node via the shell

The shell interacts with the node by issuing RPCs (remote procedure calls). You make an RPC from the shell by typing run followed by the name of the desired RPC method. For example, you’d see a list of the registered flows on your node by running:

run registeredFlows

Some RPCs return a stream of events that will be shown on screen until you press Ctrl-C.

You can find a list of the available RPC methods here .

Shutting down the node

You can shut the node down via shell:

  • run gracefulShutdown will put node into draining mode, and shut down when there are no flows running
  • run shutdown will shut the node down immediately

Output Formats

You can choose the format in which the output of the commands will be shown.

To see what is the format that’s currently used, you can type output-format get.

To update the format, you can type output-format set json.

The currently supported formats are json, yaml. The default format is yaml.

Flow commands

The shell also has special commands for working with flows:

  • flow list lists the flows available on the node
  • flow watch shows all the flows currently running on the node with result (or error) information
  • flow start starts a flow. The flow start command takes the name of a flow class, or any unambiguous substring thereof, as well as the data to be passed to the flow constructor. If there are several matches for a given substring, the possible matches will be printed out. If a flow has multiple constructors then the names and types of the arguments will be used to try and automatically determine which one to use. If the match against available constructors is unclear, the reasons each available constructor failed to match will be printed out. In the case of an ambiguous match, the first applicable constructor will be used
  • flow kill kills a single flow, as identified by its UUID.

Parameter syntax

Parameters are passed to RPC or flow commands using a syntax called Yaml (yet another markup language), a simple JSON-like language. The key features of Yaml are:

  • Parameters are separated by commas

  • Each parameter is specified as a key: value pair

    • There MUST to be a space after the colon, otherwise you’ll get a syntax error
  • Strings do not need to be surrounded by quotes unless they contain commas, colons or embedded quotes

  • Class names must be fully-qualified (e.g. java.lang.String)

  • Nested classes are referenced using $. For example, the class is referenced as$State (note the $)

Creating an instance of a class

Class instances are created using curly-bracket syntax. For example, if we have a Campaign class with the following constructor:

data class Campaign(val name: String, val target: Int)

Then we could create an instance of this class to pass as a parameter as follows:

newCampaign: { name: Roger, target: 1000 }

Where newCampaign is a parameter of type Campaign.

Mappings from strings to types

In addition to the types already supported by Jackson, several parameter types can automatically be mapped from strings. We cover the most common types here.


A parameter of type Amount<Currency> can be written as either:

  • A dollar ($), pound (£) or euro (€) symbol followed by the amount as a decimal
  • The amount as a decimal followed by the ISO currency code (e.g. “100.12 CHF”)

A parameter of type SecureHash can be written as a hexadecimal string: F69A7626ACC27042FEEAE187E6BFF4CE666E6F318DC2B32BE9FAF87DF687930C


A parameter of type OpaqueBytes can be provided as a UTF-8 string.

PublicKey and CompositeKey

A parameter of type PublicKey can be written as a Base58 string of its encoded format: GfHq2tTVk9z4eXgyQXzegw6wNsZfHcDhfw8oTt6fCHySFGp3g7XHPAyc2o6D. net.corda.core.utilities.EncodingUtils.toBase58String will convert a PublicKey to this string format.


A parameter of type Party can be written in several ways:

  • By using the full name: "O=Monogram Bank,L=Sao Paulo,C=GB"
  • By specifying the organisation name only: "Monogram Bank"
  • By specifying any other non-ambiguous part of the name: "Sao Paulo" (if only one network node is located in Sao Paulo)
  • By specifying the public key (see above)

A parameter of type NodeInfo can be written in terms of one of its identities (see Party above)


A parameter of type AnonymousParty can be written in terms of its PublicKey (see above)


A parameter of type NetworkHostAndPort can be written as a “host:port” string: "localhost:1010"

Instant and Date

A parameter of Instant and Date can be written as an ISO-8601 string: "2017-12-22T00:00:00Z"


Starting a flow

We would start the CashIssueFlow flow as follows:

flow start CashIssueFlow amount: $1000, issuerBankPartyRef: 1234, notary: "O=Controller, L=London, C=GB"

This breaks down as follows:

  • flow start is a shell command for starting a flow
  • CashIssueFlow is the flow we want to start
  • Each name: value pair after that is a flow constructor argument

This command invokes the following CashIssueFlow constructor:

class CashIssueFlow(val amount: Amount<Currency>,
                    val issuerBankPartyRef: OpaqueBytes,
                    val recipient: Party,
                    val notary: Party) : AbstractCashFlow(progressTracker)
Querying the vault

We would query the vault for IOUState states as follows:

run vaultQuery contractStateType: com.template.IOUState

This breaks down as follows:

  • run is a shell command for making an RPC call
  • vaultQuery is the RPC call we want to make
  • contractStateType: com.template.IOUState is the fully-qualified name of the state type we are querying for


The shell can be used to upload and download attachments from the node. To learn more, see the tutorial “Using attachments ”.

Getting help

You can type help in the shell to list the available commands, and man to get interactive help on many commands. You can also pass the --help or -h flags to a command to get info about what switches it supports.

Commands may have subcommands, in the same style as git. In that case, running the command by itself will list the supported subcommands.

Extending the shell

The shell can be extended using commands written in either Java or Groovy (a Java-compatible scripting language). These commands have full access to the node’s internal APIs and thus can be used to achieve almost anything.

A full tutorial on how to write such commands is out of scope for this documentation. To learn more, please refer to the CRaSH documentation. New commands are placed in the shell-commands subdirectory in the node directory. Edits to existing commands will be used automatically, but currently commands added after the node has started won’t be automatically detected. Commands must have names all in lower-case with either a .java or .groovy extension.


The shell will be enhanced over time. The currently known limitations include:

  • Flows cannot be run unless they override the progress tracker
  • If a command requires an argument of an abstract type, the command cannot be run because the concrete subclass to use cannot be specified using the YAML syntax
  • There is no command completion for flows or RPCs
  • Command history is not preserved across restarts
  • The jdbc command requires you to explicitly log into the database first
  • Commands placed in the shell-commands directory are only noticed after the node is restarted
  • The jul command advertises access to logs, but it doesn’t work with the logging framework we’re using

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