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About the SDM

The software delivery machine is a service that runs automations in response to events like pushes and builds. See architecture for a high-level view.

The SDM:

  • is event driven: the SDM performs actions in response to events. The most significant event is a code push. The response to this event is defined by goals. The response to other events (repository or issue creation, for instance) is defined by listeners.
  • uses common APIs across different automation scenarios. These let you write the important code specifying what you want to do, while calling APIs for the common work. For instance, the Project API lets you inspect and update the repository contents.

Your SDM is in TypeScript. Start with our code and add what you choose.

This section documents creating, building, and running an SDM, and details the structure and organization of a typical SDM project.

To get started in local mode, make sure you have:

Before you run in team mode, you’ll need the prerequisites page.

This page will help you:

  • create an SDM project
  • spin up your SDM
  • know where to add functionality to your SDM

For the quickest path to seeing an SDM do something, use the Quick Start instead.

Creating an SDM project

The Atomist CLI will generate a starter SDM for you.

atomist create sdm

For “Type of SDM to create, “Choose “blank” to start with an empty SDM, or “spring” to start with an SDM that does useful things for Java Spring services.

For “name of the target repository” enter a name for your SDM.

For “target-owner” enter a name for the owner of your project. This corresponds to the GitHub/GitLab organization or BitBucket project you would put the repository under.

The “create sdm” generator will transform the seed according to your answers. Because this generator operates in local mode, it will create a project on your filesystem.

Look in $HOME/atomist/target-owner/name for the new SDM.


If you prefer the manual route, you can always fork the empty-sdm project on GitHub.

Looking at the code

You can use whatever editor or IDE you like. We recommend VSCode because it is built for TypeScript (among other languages), it’s a good IDE, and it’s free. With TypeScript and an IDE like VSCode, you get autocompletion that helps you discover functionality in the SDM framework.

Run npm install first so that your IDE will see library code. In Node, all dependencies are stored within the project, under the directory node_modules. npm is the dependency manager that gets them there. The node_modules directory is listed in .gitignore, so it won’t be committed.


Start your inquiry in index.ts. When an SDM starts up, it looks here to find its configuration. The configuration object has opportunities for many, many configuration options. Click into the Configuration type or check the API Docs if you’re curious.

The important part, where you’re going to add to your personal SDM, is the function passed to configureSdm in configuration.postProcessors. Unless you change it, that function is called machine.


Click into the machine function in your IDE, or open lib/machine/machine.ts to find it. This function instantiates and then returns a SoftwareDeliveryMachine(API docs).

Inside this function, add functionality to your SDM. You can:

Building an SDM

SDM projects are written in TypeScript and run on Node.js. Building an SDM is the same as any standard TypeScript or JavaScript project. First you install the project’s dependencies:

npm install

then build the project, linting the TypeScript, compiling the TypeScript into JavaScript, generating other required files, and running tests:

npm run build

Starting an SDM

There are a few different ways to start the SDM, depending on how you are running it. If you are running the SDM locally, you can use the standard npm start command.

npm start

If you are writing your own SDMs, you probably want a more responsive testing environment, having the client restart any time you make changes to the source code. This development flow is available with the autostart command.

npm run autostart

When you deploy your SDM to production, check the recommendations under Deploying your SDM.


Control-C will stop the client. Restart it after code changes with atomist start again.

Project structure

SDM projects are organized and behave like any standard TypeScript project.


The package.json file defines the metadata and dependencies for the project. In addition, this file defines the standard “npm package scripts”, i.e., npm run commands, typically available in Node.js projects. Here’s a summary of the npm package scripts available in most SDM projects.

Command Description
npm install install all the required packages
npm run autostart run, refreshing when files change
npm run autotest run tests every time files change
npm run build lint, compile, and test
npm run clean remove stray compiled JavaScript files and build directory
npm run compile compile all TypeScript into JavaScript
npm run lint run tslint against the TypeScript
npm run lint:fix run tslint --fix against the TypeScript
npm start start the SDM
npm test run tests


The lib directory contains the TypeScript source code.


This is the starting point when you want to look at what this SDM might do.


The graphql directory contains .graphql files defining your GraphQL queries, subscriptions, and mutations. This directory is optional, as you can define your GraphQL in strings within the source code. That said, it is recommended that you define your GraphQL in .graphql files so you can realize the full benefit of its type bindings in TypeScript.


The lib/typings directory contains the auto-generated TypeScript types for your GraphQL queries, subscriptions, and mutations.


The node_modules directory contains all the project dependencies, as defined in the package.json and installed by npm.


The scripts directory contains various ancillary scripts. For example, this directory might have scripts for building the project on CI, publishing the project as an Node.js package, and publishing the project’s TypeDoc.


The test directory contains the automated tests for the project. Typically these are unit tests written using mocha and power-assert.

Next steps

Proceed to [add some functionality][add-functionality] to your SDM.