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The Smart Contracts behind DAOs

The Contracts Constituting Your DAO

In a nutshell, your Aragon OSx DAO consists of three pieces:

  1. The DAO contract: The DAO contract is where the core functionality of the protocol lies. It is in charge of:

    • Representing the identity of the DAO (ENS name, logo, description, other metadata)
    • Keeping the treasury
    • Executing arbitrary actions to
      • Transfer assets
      • Call its own functions
      • Call functions in external contracts
    • Providing general technical utilities (signature validation, callback handling)
  2. The Permission Manager: The permission manager is part of the DAO contract and the center of our protocol architecture. It manages permissions for your DAO by specifying which addresses have permission to call distinct functions on contracts associated with your DAO.

  3. Plugins: Any custom functionality can be added or removed through plugins, allowing you to fully customize your DAO. These plugins can be related to

    • Governance (e.g., token voting, one-person one-vote)
    • Asset management (e.g., ERC-20 or NFT minting, token streaming, DeFi)
    • Membership (governing budget allowances, gating access, curating a member list)

The underlying smart contracts constitute the core contracts of the Aragon OSx DAO framework.

Schematic depiction of the interaction between the DAO, the PermissionManager, and a Plugin contract.

An exemplary DAO setup showing interactions between the three core contract pieces triggered by different user groups: The DAO contract in blue containing the PermissionManager in red, respectively, as well as two Plugin contracts in green. Function calls are visualized as black arrows and require permission checks (red, dashed arrow). In this example, the permission manager determines whether the token voting plugin can execute actions on the DAO, a member can change its settings, or if a DeFi-related plugin is allowed to invest in a certain, external contract.

In the upcoming sections, you will learn about each of them in more depth.

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