What is Aragon and what does it do
Aragon is a project to empower freedom by creating tools for decentralized governance.
These tools help people freely organize across borders and without intermediaries. Instead of bureaucracy, subjectivity, and trust, smart contracts have opened the door to experiment with governance at the speed of software.
The Aragon stack helps you develop software for human organization. From the smart contracts to the user interface, Aragon takes care of the most important pieces of infrastructure to deliver censorship-resistant, decentralized and upgradeable apps.
If you're new to this ecosystem, don't worry if some (or all) of that sounded a little abstract. You can think of Aragon as providing the lego pieces to allow people (like you) to build the next generation of human organizations.
Organizations that can be spun up instantly, that can't be shut down by governments, that are resistant to internet censorship, and that allow small groups of people to collaborate effectively.
Example of a decentralized, censorship-resistant, good-looking voting app on Aragon
Many of us have gone through the pain of setting up a corporate entity. Or felt like we've lacked the tools to collaborate with people all around the globe when we're building stuff we want to see in the world.
Right now, the current system simply doesn't work. If you want to set up an organisation you have to go to lawyers, pay thousands of dollars, and all you get in return is a set of unintelligible pieces of paper that cost you more than months of development.
On top of this, these pieces of paper don't enforce anything by themselves: they're more like an idea, or a concept.
If you try to explain this to a kid, you quickly realise how mad the current system seems to them. When you think about it, it's really impressive that the world functions the way it does with this sort of legacy framework and operating system underneath.
At Aragon, we believe that decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) are the solution to this problem.
What exactly is a DAO? There are many ways to describe a DAO, and knowledgable people may disagree on the precise definition. For our purposes, you can think of DAOs as flexible, global, and uncensorable online organizations.
How does Aragon fit in? Aragon provides you with tools (apps) that make it easy for you to create DAOs -- you can think of Aragon apps as lego bricks that can be flexibly combined to make DAOs (the final lego structures).
Another way to think of Aragon is as a new operating system (OS) for setting up organizations. One that is far more efficient than the existing OS (lawyers, administrative headaches, etc) we are used to dealing with.
More on DAOs
For those of you who are new to DAOs, in this section we'll briefly cover the sorts of things DAOs can enable, when you might want to use a DAO, as well as the trends around the world accelerating their adoption.
DAOs can enable:
- Shared bank accounts with custom rules and permissions
- Payroll that automatically runs by itself
- Built-in voting on important topics
DAO use cases:
- Part-time projects with friends or strangers
- Future of work: people working part time on multiple things for short periods of time
- Temporary pop-up companies
- Companies in authoritarian jurisdictions
- Global, distributed teams
Trends around the world accelerating DAO adoption:
- The rise of populist authoritarians
- The future of work (remote and distributed)
- The growing de-platforming problem
- The rise of decentralized finance
- The increasing complexity of human civilization
Unless you've been living under a rock for the last few years, you've probably come across the term web3 😋. But what does it mean exactly? And why do we care about it in the context of Aragon?
Web3 is the vision of a fully decentralized web. One of the craziest things to wrap your head around is that in web3, apps don't need a central server to fetch data from!
How is this possible? In a nutshell, thanks to something called peer-to-peer data architectures. The key point is that in a P2P architecture, instead of requesting data from a central server, you request it from multiple computers (peers) around you.
While this is nothing new in itself -- P2P architectures have existed since the 1990’s (where they rose to fame with file sharing programs like BitTorrent and Napster) -- what's new is the addition of cryptography and economic incentives to these architectures.
The fusion of these seemingly disparate disciplines was the big innovation behind Bitcoin, and has since led to the emergence of a new field of research devoted to their intersection (what we now call cryptoeconomics).
While we won't get into the details here,the key takeaway is that cryptoeconomics is the big unlock that has allowed us to start moving from centralized data structures (web2) to more decentralized or fully distributed data architectures (web3).
Note that there’s a spectrum from fully centralized (left) to fully decentralized (right).
And while blockchains -- like Bitcoin and Ethereum -- are key to this web3 vision, it's important to note that there are other essential parts of the web3 stack that are not covered by them.
For example, since blockchains are relatively expensive to store data on, it turns out that they don't make great file systems. That's why there's also a need for decentralized file systems like the InterPlanetary File System (which Aragon also makes use of).
- DAOs and the Web3 vision
- The future of organizations
- The Aragon Manifesto
- The Aragon Whitepaper
- Can Aragon make decentralized autonomous governance work
- Why The Internet Needs IPFS Before It’s Too Late
- A hands-on introduction to IPFS
- Blockchain infrastructure landscape: a first principles framing
- The case for decentralization
- What comes after open source?
- Fat protocols
Up and running
Now that we've got you all excited, let's go through what you need to get started building with Aragon 😊
First off, we need to be sure we have a recent version of Node.js installed, for compatibility across OS we recommend LTS (
To see which version of Node you have installed, from the command line run:
To download node, follow this link.
Next, we'll need what we call a web3 provider to actually sign and send transactions to the Ethereum blockchain.
If you're new to the decentralized web you might be wondering why we have to use a separate provider to interact with the blockchain. Why don't decentralized apps (like Aragon's) just do it themselves?
In short, while it's possible for dapps to interact directly with the blockchain, using a web3 provider allows users to interact with dapps without trusting every one of them with their private keys (the keys to theirs funds).
Without a web3 provider, users have to have total trust in every dapp they use. With a web3 provider, they just need to trust that provider.
In general, if you have a hardware wallet, we recommend you use Frame as your web3 provider -- we'll go over how to do this in the tutorial that follows. To interact with the app in this section however, we'll be using Metamask.
web3.js is written by the Ethereum core team, and has functions that regular webpages can use to make read and write requests to the blockchain. Eventually we'll have browsers with this sort of functionality built-in. But for now we need plugins like Metamask to help us bridge the gap between web2 and web3.
For instructions on how to use Metamask as your web3 provider, please follow our Metamask guide.
The aragonCLI (or Aragon Command Line Interface) is a tool used for complex interactions with DAOs, like installing a new app, granting permissions with specific parameters or executing transactions through the Agent app.
To install aragonCLI from the command line run:
npm i -g @aragon/cli
If you're having trouble with this step, you should take a look at the installing aragonCLI section of the troubleshooting guide. If that doesn't fix things, please don't hesitate to reach out to us in the SDK Working Group channel.
The Aragon Buidler plugin
The Aragon Buidler plugin is a user-friendly tool for developing apps on top of Aragon. The plugin is automatically installed when using the boilerplate templates but can be added to any project with the following command:
npm i @aragon/buidler-aragon
In order to get up and running quickly, we’ll build our first DAO using some basic scaffolding. Just like real scaffolding in a construction site, when we talk about scaffolding in this context, we mean a simple prebuilt structure for your project, on top of which you can build the real one.
To create your first (scaffolded) DAO, from the command line run:
npx create-aragon-app first-dao.aragonpm.eth
Don't worry about fully understanding this line right now. Really. We'll cover that in the tutorial coming up. Right now, you just need to know that the scaffolding relies on some generated code, magically created by the
If you look at your terminal, you should see a five step process:
Cloning app template
Installing package dependencies
Created new application first-dao.aragonpm.eth in first-dao.
Once all 5 have ticks next to them, you should run the following:
cd first-dao npm start
The first line,
cd first-dao, just moves us into the directory where the scaffolded app was created.
And the second,
npm start, sets up everything for us in the background so we can quickly live test our DAO.
If you've made it this far congrats 🤗. You've just created your first DAO! It’s running on your local network and as soon as it's ready it will open in your browser at localhost:3000!
Interacting with your first DAO
If it's not already open, open your browser at the localhost address shown in your terminal. It should look something like this:
frontend | You can now view the Aragon client in the browser. frontend | App content: http://localhost:8001 frontend | Client: http://localhost:3000/#/0x0D13999edC23D3475Ed3FE22a15Cc7828FeCD762/0xA1A7d254552BEB05f15522EeD93B54441E61d1d9 frontend | Watching changes on front end...
Once your browser is open at the right address, you should see a screen that looks like the one below.
As you can see on the left, this DAO is made up of two Aragon apps -- Home and Counter. Right now, we're in the Home app. This app just displays a welcome message with no possible user interactions.
Click on Counter to open up the (slightly) more interesting Counter app.
Right now the count is at 0. Let's increment it.
Note that incrementing the counter triggers a blockchain transaction that saves the new value to the chain. But before the transaction can be sent, we need to sign it (to prove it was us that really sent it).
Signing your first transaction with Metamask
To sign your first transaction with Metamask, head to the Signing your first transaction with Metamask section of our Metamask guide.
We hope you enjoyed that 😊! Please don't hesitate to leave us any feedback on Spectrum.
Now that you’ve built your first DAO, feel free to take a look at the docs. If you're interested in understanding things at a deeper level, we recommend you jump straight into our awesome tutorial.
You should find that there is a light blue EDIT button in the top-right corner the page. This button is available on every page of the Aragon docs. If you feel like you can improve our documentation in any way, please don't hesitate to click on it!
If you don't have any programming experience or if this is your first time contributing to an open-source project, don't worry. We've created a GitHub guide just for you 😊.
P.S. Before you submit any changes, make sure to read our contribution guidelines.