DS-Auth is the most fundamental building block of the Dappsys framework. It introduces the concept of contract ownership with two types that work together: DSAuth and DSAuthority. All the contracts in your system that require some level of authorization to access at least one of their functions should inherit from the DSAuth type. This is because this type introduces a public owner member of type address, a public authority member of type DSAuthority, and a function modifier called auth.

Any function that is decorated with the auth modifier will perform an authorization check before granting access to the function. It will perform these checks in order and grant access if any are true:

  • If msg.sender is the contract itself. This will be the case if a contract makes an external call to one of its own functions (e.g. this.foo())
  • If msg.sender is the contract’s owner
  • If the contract’s authority member returns true when making this call:
authority.canCall(msg.sender, this, msg.sig)

The authority will return true if msg.sender is authorized to call the function identified by msg.sig and false otherwise.

This is an extremely powerful design pattern because it creates a separation of concerns between authorization and application business logic. The authority could have any number of complex rules that the application contract doesn’t need to worry about. For example the authority could be:

address 0x123abc canCall function mint on 0xdef456
  • A timelocked whitelist:
address 0x123abc canCall function mint on 0xdef456
two days after proposing the action to the authority
address 0x123abc is a member of group 1
which canCall function mint on 0xdef456
  • A voter veto system:
address 0x123abc canCall function mint on 0xdef456
two days after proposing the action to the authority
unless 50% of these token holders veto the action

From the application contract’s point of view, it’s just asking if msg.sender canCall the function it is trying to call. It doesn’t need to worry about all these different schemes that the authority contract might be using. Because the authority member is updateable, this means that more complex authorization/governance logic can be introduced to the system later. Conversely, access can be removed once the system is finished and ready to “lockout” privileged administrators.

Updateability is one of the key benefits offered by DS-Auth. Consider a system where backend-contract A is calling an auth-controlled function on another backend-contract B, both owned by authority-contract X. Replacing B with backend-contract C would proceed as follows:

  • Create contract C and set its authority to X
  • Store data in X that allows contract A to call auth-controlled functions on C
  • Change the pointer in A to point at C instead of B
  • Store data in X that disallows anyone from calling B

This ensures that your production system is always consistent and can easily be rolled back to previous configurations.

TL;DR: If you use just one package from the Dappsys framework, make it DS-Auth. Your system will remain manageable as it grows in size, each individual component will become much easier to understand, and it will integrate seamlessly with the numerous tools that DappHub is building to work with DS-Auth controlled systems.

See also: DS-Guard, DS-Roles


Your contract should inherit from the DSAuth type if you want it to have functions that can only be called by specifically authorized addresses.


import ds-auth/auth.sol

Parent Types


API Reference

function DSAuth

The constructor function sets msg.sender to be the initial owner of the contract. It does not need to be explicitly called because it doesn’t take any parameters.

function DSAuth()

function authority

Returns the contract’s public authority member.

DSAuthority public authority

function owner

Returns the contract’s public owner member.

address public owner

function setAuthority

This function sets the authority member that your contract calls when executing the auth modifier. It is itself auth controlled.

function setAuthority(DSAuthority authority_) auth note

function setOwner

This function sets the owner member that automatically has access to all the contract’s functions. It is itself auth controlled.

function setOwner(address owner_) auth note

function isAuthorized

This function returns true if the src address is allowed to call the sig function(s) on this contract. It is mainly used internally by the auth and authorized modifiers. This function first checks if src is equal to the owner member, otherwise it calls authority.canCall(src, this, sig) and returns the result.

function isAuthorized(address src, bytes4 sig) internal returns (bool)

modifier auth

This function modifier is the main entrypoint into the logic of DSAuth. Decorate your functions with this modifier when you want to control what addresses can call them. It calls isAuthorized(msg.sender, msg.sig) and asserts that the return value is true, otherwise it throws an exception.

modifier auth


DSAuthority is an interface that declares just one function: canCall. Contracts that are of this type store authorization data about what addresses can call what specific functions on contracts that are under their authority. Each contract of type DSAuth consults its DSAuthority authority member when granting access to its functions.

You should extend DSAuthority if you want to make new business logic to control access to your system.


import ds-auth/auth.sol

Parent Types


API Reference

function canCall

This function returns true if the src address can call the sig function(s) on the dst contract.

function canCall(
    address src, address dst, bytes4 sig
) constant returns (bool)