A Flexible and Sustainable Exchange Contract Architecture

ZeroEx (Exchange Proxy) Spec


Pretty soon after V3 + staking were launched we started seeing pain points from integrations and migrations. Many of these issues required on-chain solutions to sort out. For some, we were able to (mostly) satisfy requirements with extension contracts and ERC20 bridge contracts. But there are still many cases where neither of these approaches provide elegant solutions, and the only real solution would be to amend the Exchange contract itself. However, the Exchange contract is monolithic and not designed to be upgradeable, so changes to one part of the contract would require deploying a new instance and migrating integrators to this new contract. It’s also highly likely that new issues would appear as the ecosystem matured and we’d have to make more changes, leading to more migrations, etc.

At the same time, we have our mind on governance. Ideally, we’d like governance to be binding on a per-feature basis. But with a monolithic model, we’d always be deploying the full Exchange feature-set in one swoop, so people would technically always be voting on an entire system. This has the effect of reducing participation because it’s very difficult to engage and inform voters on a complex collection of of features vs just a handful of related ones.

The Proxy Contract: ZeroEx

The ZeroEx contract implements a per-function proxy pattern. Every function registered to the proxy contract can have a distinct implementation contract. Implementation contracts are called “features” and can expose multiple, related functions. Since features can be upgraded independently, there will no longer be a collective “version” of the API, defaulting to a rolling release model.


The ZeroEx contract’s only responsibility is to route (delegate) calls to per-function implementation contracts through its fallback.

contract ZeroEx {

    // Storage bucket for the proxy.
    struct ProxyStorage {
        // Mapping of function selector -> function implementation
        mapping(bytes4 => address) impls;

    // Construct this contract.
    constructor() public {
        // Temporarily register the `bootstrap()` function.
        ProxyStorage.impls[IBootstrap.bootstrap.selector] =
            address(new Bootstrap(msg.sender));

    fallback() external payable {
        address impl = getFunctionImplementation(msg.data.readBytes4());
        require(impl != address(0));

        // Forward the call.
        (bool success, bytes memory result) = impl.delegatecall(msg.data);
        if (!success) {

    receive() external payable {}
    // Get the implementation of a function selector.
    function getFunctionImplementation(bytes4 selector)
        public view returns (address)
        return ProxyStorage.impls[msg.data.readBytes4()];


The ZeroEx contract comes pre-loaded with only one feature: Bootstrap. This exposes a bootstrap() function that can only be called by the deployer. bootstrap() does a few things:

  1. De-register the bootstrap() function, which prevents it being called again.
  2. Self-destruct.
  3. Delegatecall the bootstrapper target contract and call data.

This is a stripped down Bootstrap feature contract:

contract Bootstrap {
    // The ZeroEx contract.
    address immutable private _deployer;
    // The implementation address of this contract.
    address immutable private _implementation;
    // The allowed caller to `bootstrap()`.
    address immutable private _bootstrapCaller;

    constructor(address bootstrapCaller) public {
        _deployer = msg.sender;
        _implementation = address(this);
        _bootstrapCaller = bootstrapCaller;

    // Execute a bootstrapper in the context of the proxy.
    function bootstrap(address target, bytes callData) external {
        // Only the bootstrap caller can call this function.
        require(msg.sender == _bootstrapCaller);
        // Deregister.
        LibProxyStorage.getStorage().impls[this.bootstrap.selector] = address(0);
        // Self-destruct.
        // Call the bootstrapper.

    function die() external {
        require(msg.sender == _deployer);

This is the basic execution flow using our deployment migration contract (InitialMigration), which acts as both the deployer and bootstrapper:

Function Registry Management

One of the initial features InitialMigration bootstraps into the ZeroEx contract is the function registry feature, SimpleFunctionRegistry. This feature exposes the following function registry management features:

  • extend() - Register a new function (selector) and implementation (address). This also maintains a history of past implementations so we can roll back to one, if needed.
  • rollback() - Reverts a function implementation to a prior version in its history.
contract SimpleFunctionRegistry {

    // Storage bucket for this feature.
    struct SFRStorage {
        // Mapping of function selector -> implementation history.
        mapping(bytes4 => address[]) implHistory;

    // Roll back to the last implementation of a function.
    function rollback(bytes4 selector)
        address[] storage history = SFRStorage.implHistory[selector];
        require(history.length > 0);
        ProxyStorage.impls[selector] = history[history.length - 1];

    // Register or replace a function.
    function extend(bytes4 selector, address impl)
        _extend(selector, impl);
    // Register or replace a function.
    function _extend(bytes4 selector, address impl)
        address[] storage history = SFRStorage.implHistory[selector];
        ProxyStorage.impls[selector] = impl;


Another feature InitialMigration bootstraps into the proxy is the Ownable feature. This exposes ownership management functions: transferOwnership() and getOwner(). This feature also enables ubiquitous modifiers such as onlyOwner, so it is an implicit dependency of nearly every other feature.

contract Ownable {

    // Storage bucket for this feature.
    struct OwnableStorage {
        // The owner of this contract.
        address owner;

    // Change the owner of this contract.
    function transferOwnership(address newOwner)
        OwnableStorage.owner = newOwner;

    // Get the owner of this contract.
    function getOwner() externa view returns (address owner_) {
       return OwnableStorage.owner;


Migrations are upgrade logic that run in the context of the proxy contract. To do this, the owner calls the migrate() function, provided by the Ownable feature. This follows a similar sequence as the bootstrap process. Notably, it temporarily sets the owner of the contract to itself for the duration of the migration call, which allows the migrator to perform admin-level operations through other features, such as registering or rolling back new functions (see Function Registry Management). Before exiting, the owner is set to the newOwner, which is passed in to the call.

One motivation for the existence of this function, as opposed to just having the make individual admin calls, is a shortcoming of the ZeroExGoverner contract, which is designed to perform one operation at a time, with no strict ordering of those operations.

This is a stripped down migrate() feature implementation:

contract Ownable {

    // Execute a migration function in the context of the proxy contract.
    function migrate(address target, bytes calldata data, address newOwner)
        // If the owner is already set to ourselves then we've reentered.
        require(OwnableStorage.owner != address(this));
        // Temporarily set the owner to ourselves.
        OwnableStorage.owner = address(this);

        // Perform the migration.

        // Set the new owner.
        OwnableStorage.owner = newOWner;

This is an example sequence of a migration:

Storage Buckets

Because feature functions get delegatecalled into, they all share the same execution context and, thus, state space. It’s critical that storage for each feature be compartmentalized from other features to avoid accidentally writing to the same slot. We solve this by strictly adhering to a storage bucket pattern for our feature contracts. This rule also extends to all inherited contracts/mixins.

Storage buckets are enabled by new language features in solidity 0.6, which allow us to rewrite a storage variable’s slot reference to a globally unique ID. These IDs are stored in an append-only enum defined in LibStorage, to enforce uniqueness. The true storage offset for a bucket is the feature’s storage ID multiplied by a large constant to prevent overlap between buckets.


LibStorage {
    enum StorageId {
    function getStorageOffset(StorageId id) internal pure returns (uint256) {
        return uint256(id) * 1e18;

LibMyFeatureStorage {
    // Storage layout for this feature.
    struct Storage {
        mapping(bytes32 => bytes) myData;

    // Get the storage bucket for this feature.
    function getStorage() internal view returns (Storage storage st) {
        uint256 offset = LibStorage.getStorageOffset(
        assembly { st_slot := offset }

With the above pattern, writing to storage is simply:

LibMyFeatureStorage.getStorage().myData[...] = ...;

Version Management


This is a rolling release model, where every feature/function has its own version. All feature contracts (except Bootstrap because it’s ephemeral), implement the IFeature interface:

interface IFeature {
    // The name of this feature set.
    function FEATURE_NAME() external view returns (string memory name);

    // The version of this feature set.
    function FEATURE_VERSION() external view returns (uint256 version);

So, to get the version of a function one could do IFeature(getFunctionImplementation(foo.selector)).FEATURE_VERSION.

Best Practices

The registry is intentionally not prescriptive on how features should be migrated. But there are some general best practices we can follow to avoid harming users, and ourselves.

In general, unless a function has a vulnerability, we should keep it intact for the duration of the deprecation schedule. Afterwards, we can ultimately disable the function by either calling extend() with a null implementation or by calling rollback() to a null implementation.

These include bug-fixes, optimizations, or any other changes that preserve the intended behavior of the function. For these cases, we should upgrade the function in-place, i.e., using the same selector but changing the implementation contract, through extend().

If a vulnerability is found in a live function, we should call rollback() immediately to reset it to a non-vulnerable implementation. Because rollback() is a separate function from extend(), it can be exempted from timelocks to allow a swift response.

These involve meaningful behavioral changes, such as new settlement logic, changes to the order format (or its interpretation), etc. These should always be registered under a new selector, which comes free if the arguments also change, to allow users the opportunity to opt-in to new behavior. If the upgrade is intended to replace an existing feature, the old version should follow a deprecation schedule, unless we’re confident no one is using it.

Not all features are designed to be exclusively consumed by the public. We can have internal features by applying an onlySelf modifier to the function. We need to be mindful of another class of user: the contract itself. Avoiding missteps on this will require a combination of diligence and good regression test suites.

Known Risks

The extreme flexibility of this model means we have few built-in guardrails that more conventional architectures enjoy. To avoid pitfalls, we’ve established a few new patterns to follow during development, but the following areas will always need careful scrutiny during code reviews.

Extended Attack Surface for Features

Because features all run in the same execution context, they inherit potential vulnerabilities from other features. Some vulnerabilities may also arise from the interactions of separate features, which may not be obvious without examining the system as a whole. Reviewers will always need to be mindful of these scenarios and features should try to create as much isolation of responsibilities as possible.

Storage Layout Risks

All features registered to the proxy will run in the same storage context as the proxy itself. We employ a pattern of per-feature storage buckets (structs) with globally unique bucket offsets to mitigate issues.

Slot Overlap
Every time we develop a new feature, an entry is appended to the LibStorage.StorageId enum, which is the bucket ID for the feature’s storage. This applies to the storage used by the proxy contract itself. When calculating the true offset for the storage bucket, this enum value is simply multiplied by a large number:

function getStorageOffset(StorageId id) internal pure returns (uint256) {
    return uint256(id) * 1e18;

The constant we use is 1e18 (STORAGE_OFFSET_MULTIPLIER). Given Solidity’s storage layout rules (https://solidity.readthedocs.io/en/v0.6.6/miscellaneous.html), subsequent storage buckets should always be 1e18 slots apart, which means buckets can have 1e18 fields (including interior structs) before overlapping. While it’s not impossible for buckets to overlap with this pattern, it should be extremely unlikely if we follow it closely.

Inherited Storage
A more insidious way to corrupt storage buckets is to have a feature unintentionally inherit from a mixin that has plain (non-bucketed) state variables, because the mixin can potentially read/write to slots shared by other buckets through them. To avoid this:

  1. We prefix all feature-compatible mixins with “Fixin” (“Feature” + “Mixin”) and only allow contract inheritance from these.
  2. The first value (0) in the StorageId enums is set to Unused, which no feature should use. This means the first real storage bucket will actually start at slot 1e18, which gives us a safety buffer for these scenarios, since it’s unlikely a mixin would unintentionally access slots beyond 1e18.

Shared Access to Storage
There is nothing stopping a feature from reaching into another feature’s storage bucket and reading/modifying it. Generally this pattern is discouraged but may be necessary in some cases, or may be preferable to save gas. This can create an implicit tight coupling between features and we need to take those interactions into account when upgrading the features that own those storage buckets.

Restricted Functions and Privilege Escalation

We will also be registering functions that have caller restrictions. Functions designed for internal use only will have an onlySelf modifier that asserts that msg.sender == address(this). The other class of restricted functions are owner-only functions, which have an onlyOwner modifier that asserts that the msg.sender == LibOwnableStorage.Storage.owner.

The check on owner-only functions can be easily circumvented in a feature by directly overwriting LibOwnableStorage.Storage.owner with another address. If best practices and patterns are adhered to, doing so would involve deliberate and obvious effort and should be caught in reviews.

Self-Destructing Features

A feature contract with self-destruct logic must safeguard this code path to only be executed after the feature is deregistered, otherwise its registered functions will fail. In most cases this would just cause the feature to temporarily go dark until we could redeploy it. But it may leave the proxy in an unusable state if this occurs in the contract of a mission-critical feature, e.g., Ownable or SimpleFunctionRegistry (neither of which can self-destruct).


Although the proxy will not have access to the V3 asset proxies initially, early features will require taker allowances to be accessible to the proxy somehow. Instead of having the proxy contract itself be the allowance target, we intend on using a separate “Puppet” contract, callable only by the proxy contract. This creates a layer of separation between the proxy contract and allowances, so moving user funds is a much more deliberate action. In the event of a major vulnerability, the owner can simply detach the puppet contract from the proxy. This also avoids the situation where the proxy has lingering allowances if we decide grant it asset proxy authorization.

Temporary Balances

One of the goals of the proxy architecture is to also implement and expose many popular extension contract features in one place. Extension contracts often hold taker/maker funds temporarily during settlement. This can cause unexpected behavior if one of these features wind up calling another, because their balances will be pooled together. An approach we are pursuing is using a pool of unique “Puppet” contracts to temporarily holds funds and keep balances separate when extension operations overlap.


Very exciting proposal @dorothy-zbornak. Would upgrading 0x V3 to this architecture be a non-breaking change for developers other then updating the contract address they point to?

1 Like

To be clear, changing an address would be considered a breaking change. But to your point, it depends on whether we decide to namespace the V3 functions (e.g., fillOrder() -> fillOrderV3()). If we don’t, then the answer is yes. The new proxy contract would (eventually) have the same privileges across the asset proxies (so no new allowances needed) and, so long as we perfectly mirror them, the V3 functions will also be there. So, in an ideal world, people coming from V3 and looking for V3 would just need to update the address they’re interacting with.

Updated with diagrams, simplified code, and to be more in line with the state of the PR: https://github.com/0xProject/0x-monorepo/pull/2540

Updated for new storage ID pattern.