Inside the blockchain developer’s mind: What is a testnet?


A testnet is a place where you can explore the new features of your blockchain before deploying it to an actual network. In this article, we’ll talk about how to use one and what its benefits are for developers.

The “what’s blockchain” is a question that many people have been asking. The “inside the blockchain developer’s mind: What is a testnet?” will answer this question and more.

Through its series Inside the Blockchain Developer’s Mind, Cointelegraph is following the creation of an entirely new blockchain from conception to mainnet and beyond. In prior sections of this series, Andrew Levine of Koinos Group described some of the problems his team has experienced since identifying the primary concerns they want to address, as well as three of the “crises” that are preventing blockchain adoption: upgradeability, scalability, and governance.

Blockchain testnets are a fascinating topic since they come in a variety of sizes and forms. So, in this piece, I’d want to use my insider knowledge as the CEO of Koinos Group (the Koinos developers) to explain testnets and hopefully shed some light on why they seem to have such a significant influence on pricing.

The name, testnet, is the most apparent place to start. A testnet is used to evaluate a network. There are two “flavors” of testnet at a high level. The first is a testnet that is released before a mainnet (main network) is launched, and the second is a testnet that is launched after a mainnet has been launched. Although the functions are comparable, the environment in which they are released has a significant influence on the perception and impact of the release.

I’ll begin with the second kind of testnet since it is, in some ways, the more easy situation. Testnets serve two key tasks when it comes to current networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum. The first is that they provide a live environment in which decentralized applications may be tested. Because no such thing as flawless code exists, testnets provide developers with an environment that is extremely comparable to the “main chain” (e.g. Ethereum) in which to test their code with almost no risk. Things are supposed to fail on a testnet, and the tokens used are likely to be useless.

Inside the blockchain developer’s mind: What is a testnet?

Related: Ethereum’s London split reaches testnet, causing a delay in the difficulty bomb

As a result, testnets offer an environment that allows decentralized application (DApp) developers to raise the value of their applications (i.e., make them better) exactly because complete functionality or wealth generation are not expected. In some ways, the worthlessness of a testnet contributes to its value.

Blockchain developers vs. DApp developers

However, testnets have a two-sided character, which leads us to the second role of testnets, which is to assist the platform developer rather than the DApp developer (in our case, the blockchain developer). From my vantage point, one thing that has shocked me is how often DApp developers are confused with blockchain engineers. Smart contract writers aren’t always blockchain developers, and blockchain developers don’t usually spend much time creating smart contracts.

Koinos, however, throws a significant wrench in this difference by implementing its whole system as smart contracts! Because Koinos smart contracts are upgradeable, any feature can be added to the blockchain without causing a hard fork, but it also means that those working on the blockchain (such as members of the Koinos Group) are using and developing the same toolchain and toolkit that developers will use to create their DApps. However, since this is a trait that is unique to Koinos, we may ignore it for the time being.

Inside the blockchain developer’s mind: What is a testnet?

Every other blockchain’s engineers must provide updates in whatever programming language the blockchain is written in (C++, Rust, Haskell, and so on), and they’re working on a massive and complex system known as a “monolithic architecture.” Because modifying any aspect of a monolithic design may affect any other part of the system, the risk of making changes is substantially greater.

Blockchain developers also need a low-stakes live environment in which to test their modifications and discover what fails. They, like application developers, want this environment to be as near to the actual network as feasible, which means they want their code to communicate with code written by application developers.

Testnets on each sides

The two-sided nature of testnets is shown in this way. They let application and platform developers to connect with one another and test their code in a safe environment that is as near to a real environment as feasible, but with extremely minimal risks. Both organizations are able to enhance their goods and make them more useful to their consumers as a result of this.

Now we can understand why testnets seem to have such a significant influence on token prices. If we consider that pricing is a function of value and that testnets assist developers in increasing the value of their products, we may anticipate a price effect. The trouble is that this link has resulted in a number of unfavorable results. For the express aim of raising their token price, projects will often deploy a “testnet” that has no use to developers. Unfortunately, many people will mistakenly believe that something important has been published when they see the testnet announcement, and the act will have the intended impact on the price.

Before the mainnet, there are testnets.

Until far, I’ve focused on the value of testnets in the context of current blockchains, namely that they provide a secure environment for application developers to test their apps and for blockchain engineers to test improvements to the underlying platform. This will assist you in comprehending the other essential context in which testnets are launched, namely, prior to the mainnet’s release.

Testing is the main goal once again, but this time the emphasis is on the system itself, which has never been operational before. Of course, because it’s brand new, no apps will be running on it. The issue has now become increasingly one-sided. The bulk of the codebase’s contributors will be blockchain developers, and the objective is to bring the platform to a point where developers want to build on it.

The primary criterion for developers will be that the platform has been demonstrated to be adequately safe, and this should be the driving force behind the particular tests that are carried out. Assuming that developers are confident that the platform is secure enough, they will need to be trained on how to utilize it. To put it another way, the testnet should be seen as a teaching tool that allows developers to obtain a better grasp of how they will be able to utilize the platform while also assisting in the network’s security testing.

Finally, when users test the network and learn how to use it, they will certainly discover areas where the platform may be enhanced – crucial libraries or documentation to assist them comprehend the system may be required. This information is priceless input that platform developers must utilize to improve the platform before mainnet implementations are completed.

Whether we recognize it or not, computer networks have become an integral part of our lives, and their significance is only growing. Testnets are an important part of the process of creating new and innovative computer networks that may improve our lives in ever-increasing ways. Hopefully, you are now better ready to assess individual testnet releases and if they are being created and launched for the proper reasons, having gained a greater grasp of the subtleties of testnets and the crucial settings in which they are issued.

There is no financial advice or suggestion in this article. Every investing and trading choice has risk, and readers should do their own due diligence before making a decision.

The author’s views, ideas, and opinions are entirely his or her own, and do not necessarily reflect or represent those of Cointelegraph.

Andrew Levine is the CEO of Koinos Group, where he and the former Steem blockchain development team create blockchain-based solutions that allow individuals to own and govern their digital identities. Koinos is their flagship product, a high-performance blockchain based on a completely new architecture designed to provide developers with the capabilities they need to offer the user experiences required to extend blockchain adoption to the masses.

The Koinos Group just launched version 2 of its testnet, which includes stability enhancements, a fee-free transactions system, and a contract development tools that allows developers to create and operate smart contracts on the Koinos blockchain.

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Emilia James
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