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Commands & actions to go through SNS launch - legacy flow

This page refers to a legacy flow of how an SNS is launched. This is still supported at the moment but might be deprecated going forward. It is recommended to use the new SNS launch flow which can be found here. Please find more context on this here.


At a high level, the stages for launching an SNS in production are explained here.

This article lists the technical commands and actions that a developer needs to complete the stages for an SNS launch.

At a low level, the SNS local testing repository guides you through the same, with the difference that the commands target the canisters on the mainnet.


The version of the sns CLI that is bundled with your dfx version may not have the latest commands described in the Usage section. If needed, it is recommended to build and use the sns CLI tool yourself.

git clone
cd ic
bazel build //rs/sns/cli:sns
ls bazel-bin/rs/sns/cli/sns


1. Dapp developers choose the initial parameters of the SNS for a dapp.

Typically, dapp developers choose initial parameters that will be used in subsequent proposals.

These parameters also define the initial neurons with which the SNS governance canister will be installed. The launch stages 5 and 6 require submitting and adopting an SNS proposal during the launch process, and thus before the SNS is fully launched. Note that some frontends, for example the NNS frontend dapp, do not show neurons of SNSs that are not fully launched. Therefore, neurons that are controlled by NNS frontend dapp principals will only be visible after a successful launch. Therefore, the initial neurons must be carefully setup in a way so that enough of them can be operated already during the launch process. This is also relevant for other SNS proposals that can already be used during the launch, for example to upgrade the dapp canister(s) or registering custom proposals for that DAO.

2. Dapp developers submit NNS proposal so they can deploy to the SNS subnet.

Anyone who owns an NNS neuron with enough stake can submit a proposal that lists a principal wallet in SNS-W who can then deploy the SNS canisters.

To create such a proposal, a common path is to use ic-admin and run the following:

ic-admin  \
--nns-url "${NETWORK_URL}" propose-to-update-sns-deploy-whitelist \
--added-principals "${WALLET}" \
--proposal-title "Let me SNS!" \
--summary "This proposal whitelists developer's principal to deploy SNS"
  • One can substitute WALLET with the principal in question.
  • One can substitute NETWORK_URL with

3. Proposal #1 (of 3) is passed or rejected.

4. Dapp developers trigger the SNS canisters to be created on SNS subnet.

After the wallet canister is listed in SNS-W, the SNS canisters are created triggered by a manual call to SNS-W.

The sns CLI command to trigger the creation of SNS canisters on the SNS subnet:

sns deploy --network "${NETWORK}" --init-config-file "${CONFIG}" --save-to "sns_canister_ids.json" 

5. Dapp developers submit an SNS proposal to handover control of their dapp to the SNS.

In this step, the developers will hand over the control of the dapp canister(s) to the newly deployed SNS root canister. To make sure that the SNS root is also aware of the dapp canister(s), the devs then also "register" the dapp in the SNS, by an SNS proposal.

Note that this proposal needs to be submitted by one of the initial SNS neurons. This means that the devs require at least one SNS neuron that they can control with the command line tool quill. They can then use the following command to submit the SNS proposal. Of course it is crucial to set the right parameters in this proposal.

Quill command

quill sns \
--canister-ids-file ./sns_canister_ids.json \
--pem-file "${PEM_FILE}" \
make-proposal \
--proposal \
"(record { \
action=opt variant {RegisterDappCanisters = record {canister_ids=${DAPP_CANISTER_IDS}}}})" \

Where the parameters are:

  • sns_canister_ids.json is a file with the IDs of this SNS’s canisters

  • PEM_FILE="(dfxcacheshow)/../../(dfx cache show)/../../{IDENTITY_NAME}/identity.pem"

  • IDENTITY_NAME=<current-dapp-controller-identity-name>

  • REGISTER_DAPP_PROPOSAL_TITLE="Register test dapp"


  • REGISTER_DAPP_PROPOSAL_SUMMARY="This proposal registers test dapp with SNS"

  • DAPP_CANISTER_IDS="vec { \ principal\"CID1\"; \ principal\"CID2\"; \ principal\"$CID3\" \ }" where we assume your dapp’s canister principals are encoded as strings and set into variables named CID2, CID2, CID3

  • DEVELOPER_NEURON_ID=<your-developer-neuron-ID>

6. Proposal #2 (of 3) is passed or rejected.

Dapp developers vote with their initial SNS neurons. Depending on the initial neuron distirbution, this can also include other voters that have initial neurons.

Note that at this stage it is not possible to use the NNS frontend dapp to vote on SNS proposals - the NNS FE dapp will only show SNS neurons and proposals for SNSs that are fully launched. Therefore, there are two options how this proposal can be adopted:

  1. The proposal is submitted by a neuron that has at least 3% of the voting power and one waits for the voting period of 4 days to be complete. If no other neurons vote, the proposal will then be adopted after this voting period.

  2. The initial neurons are set up in such a way that the majority of the voting power is in neurons that are controlled via quill. In this case, other neurons can vote in this step and the proposal can potentially pass earlier if an absolute majority of the voting power is reached.

7. Proposal to start the decentralization swap.

After the SNS canisters are deployed and the dapp's control is handed over to the SNS, an NNS proposal starts the swap.

Again, anyone who owns an NNS neuron with enough stake can submit this proposal. Of course it is crucial to set the right parameters in this proposal.

Note that there can only be one such proposal at a time in the NNS. This means that the time when this proposal can be submitted might depend on other SNS' launch.

ic-admin   \
--nns-url "${NETWORK_URL}" propose-to-open-sns-token-swap \
--min-participants 3 \
--min-icp-e8s 5000000000 \
--max-icp-e8s 50000000000 \
--min-participant-icp-e8s 100000000 \
--max-participant-icp-e8s 20000000000 \
--swap-due-timestamp-seconds "${DEADLINE}" \
--sns-token-e8s 500000000000 \
--target-swap-canister-id "${SNS_SWAP_ID}" \
--community-fund-investment-e8s 5000000000 \
--neuron-basket-count 3 \
--neuron-basket-dissolve-delay-interval-seconds 31536000 \
--proposal-title "Decentralize this SNS" \
--summary "Decentralize this SNS"

8. Proposal #3 (of 3) is passed or rejected.

Nothing technical for dapp developers to do. Community votes.

9. SNS participants participate in the decentralization swap.

Nothing technical for dapp developers to do. Community participates in the swap.

10. SNS canisters become SNS DAO.

When the swap ends, either because its deadline is reached or because the maximum ICP have been collected, its finalization has to be triggered by a manual call to the SNS swap that can be done by anyone. You can find this command with more context in the SNS local testing repository here.

dfx canister --network "${NETWORK}" call <SWAP_CANISTER_ID> finalize_swap '(record {})'