Rebuilding Aragon’s foundations for the future

Learn how and why we're crafting a new Aragon – fresh smart contracts, a clear SDK, and an easy-to-use, no-code app.

Rebuilding Aragon’s foundations for the future

You may have read that we’re in the process of developing a new Aragon — from fresh smart contracts and a clear SDK to an easy-to-use, no-code app. We will capitalize on our past strengths by using the battle-tested code from AragonOS, in addition to using the OpenZeppelin library, but nonetheless, heading into a new chapter like this is no small decision. We want to share our reasons for doing so, why we are excited about it, and how we hope to write this new chapter together.

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The evolving needs of DAO tooling

The DAO landscape looks very different from when we started building DAO platforms in 2017. Today, a new wave of creators are forming DAOs: from investment to education, to science, to activism; DAO creators are reinventing how traditional industries function and inventing entirely new industries at the same time. As these uses become more and more diverse, the reality is that figuring out the optimal DAO setup for your specific situation is far from easy.

Simultaneously, tooling for these diverse cases has been leaping forwards too. In 2017, we felt we were often building all the tools we needed ourselves, by necessity. Fast forward to today, and it’s clear we can build better and evolve faster as an ecosystem through collaboration. For us, this means there is a need for far more modular and composable building blocks for DAOs.

With these winds in our sails, we’re charting a new course for simplicity, modularity, and mix-and-match composability.

The New Wave of DAO Creators

New smart contracts: simplicity means flexibility

As DAOs have shown over the last few years, there is no single best way to set up a DAO; there’s no ‘one size fits all’.

It’s clear today that DAOs will challenge existing structures in so many different contexts. Even within a single DAO, there is a need for different governance structures across subDAOs, guilds, working groups, and teams.

All that’s to come will take this even further; DAOs are going to be far more than a simple multi-sig or a token-based community. They could be built on a zk-based attestation system, on optimistic governance running elsewhere, or even have no governance at all (!).

We want DAOs on Aragon to have greater freedom to do more. By shifting towards a much simpler code and a more modular structure, we lay a far more flexible foundation for the future, so that any kind of module can be plugged into an Aragon DAO.

What does that look like? This could, for example, mean a DAO where you can: set up liquidity pools with Balancer; manage your treasury in a Gnosis Safe multisig; set up airdrops with Coinvise; and access modules from Zodiac, all directly from your dashboard. Aragon’s new smart contracts make it easy to compose your DAO with the rest of the tooling ecosystem, while modular permission management allows you to grant and revoke permissions with granularity, providing more flexibility within your DAO.

For example, we envision your DAO being able to enable a:

  • 4/5 multisig component to “CONFIG” the DAO metadata.
  • staking contract to “EXECUTE” an operation when at least 10k $ANT has been staked on it.
  • contract to “WITHDRAW” funds when the permissions oracle checks that the trading volume of a certain token has exceeded 5M in value.
  • zk-Rollup validator contract to “EXECUTE” when a valid zk-proof proving that enough members support a proposal is submitted.
  • member privilege system gated by NFTs.

We’re more than excited about the adaptability these new foundations facilitate. We believe a simple core, capable of integration with new tools and new ways of working (that may not have even been conceived yet), is the best way to future-proof ourselves.

Connecting today’s DAOs with tomorrow’s infrastructure

While the Aragon Network product and tech teams are focusing on the next wave of contracts, we are putting our most important stakeholders — the communities who have entrusted their governance and treasuries to our infrastructure — front and center.

We remain strongly committed to our current users and will not be charting a new path forward at the expense of the DAOs currently built on Aragon, as we know the more than 2,000 Aragon Client DAOs, built on the AragonOS Core today, are what draw communities and bring legitimacy to Aragon.

Our new core will operate in parallel to the AragonOS Core, so no action from DAOs built on AragonOS/Client is required. Our objective is to develop a new platform that you want to move to, so our plan of action is to:

  1. Continue investing in the infrastructure you are relying on today. This includes the recently approved EVMCrispr proposal to improve the DAO management experience with AragonOS.
  2. Listen to your views on what a new Aragon you would want to migrate to would look like. Join the consultation.
  3. Build the new Aragon together, in continuous conversation with you. Our work in progress is open (GitHub repos for smart contracts, SDK, app UI), and you can sign up for the early access waitlist to be notified as soon as we have the first version in an acceptable state for you to try out.
New Stack

Developing the future of DAOs together

Making the DAO ecosystem a success is about more than launching new products; it’s also about developing as people and as an organization. For us, this means we want to build openly, collaborate generously, and continue expanding the DAO space.

There are key foundations to lay here too, and so we’ve been busy getting started with initiatives we think can drive better collaboration:

  • As part of the DAOStar One working group, together with Gnosis, Moloch, DAOhaus, and others, we are defining ecosystem-wide standards for specific on-chain data and contract methods, so that DAOs are easier to interface with one another.
Participating organizations of the DAOstar initiative.
  • Last year, alongside 21 other DAO tooling builders, we launched the first DAO Global Hackathon: Hack for Freedom, as a seedbed for collaborative investment in new tools that serve to benefit the whole community. In this first event, more than 1,000 Gitcoin participants and 36 new projects formed towards solving common DAO infrastructure challenges.
  • Inside our own house, we’ve been restructuring our core teams and guilds to be able to more effectively scale our support and collaboration bandwidth.
  • We’re working on facilitating better connections between new DAOs and expert service providers to help boost the success of the entire ecosystem.
Next Steps

The reality is it’s still incredibly early in the DAO era. Where DAOs will disrupt and innovate, what kind of DAOs will spring up, and in which direction they will take the world are all open questions. The challenge is huge, but the potential is even greater. Fortunately, there is already an incredible ecosystem of tools and expertise enabling DAOs to have real-world impact, and by putting new foundations in place, we believe we can go further together. We’re excited to launch a new Aragon for the DAO-ified future and can’t wait to build it together with you!

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Read more ~ 2022 DAO Research Update: What do DAO Builders Need?