In the mind of the blockchain developer: what is a test network?


Cointelegraph follows the development of a whole new blockchain from creation to mainnet and beyond through its Inside the Blockchain Developer’s Mind series. In the previous parts, Andrew Levine from the Koinos group discussed some of the challenges the team has faced since identifying the key issues they intend to address and described three of the ‘crises’ holding back blockchain adoption: scalability, scalability, and governance.

Blockchain test networks are an interesting topic because they come in all shapes and sizes. So, in this article, my goal is to leverage my internal experience as CEO of Koinos Group (developers of Koinos) to demystify test networks and maybe provide some insight into why they seem to have such a impact on prices.

The most obvious starting point is the name: testreport. The purpose of a test network is to test a reportjob. At a very high level, there are two “flavors” of testnet. The first is a testnet which is published before a main network (main network), and the second is a testnet which is published after a main network is already operational. The functions they perform are similar, but the context in which they are released has a huge impact on the perception and impact of release.

I’ll start with the second type of testnet because, in a way, this is the simpler context. When you talk about existing networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum, test networks serve two main functions. The first is that it is a live environment in which developers can test their decentralized applications. Every good developer knows that there is no perfect code, so testnets provide developers with a very similar “backbone” (eg Ethereum) environment in which they can test their code with zero risk. Things running on a testnet are expected to break and the tokens used will be worthless.

Related: London Fork enters testnet on Ethereum as difficulty bomb sees delay

Thus, testnets are an environment that allows decentralized application developers (DApps) to increase the value of their applications (i.e. improve their applications) precisely because there is no expectation of full functionality or wealth creation. In a sense, the value of a testnet stems from its uselessness.

DApp developers vs blockchain developers

But testnets have a two-sided nature, which brings us to the second function that testnets serve, and that function benefits not the DApp developer, but the platform developer (in our case, the blockchain developer). One thing I was surprised to see from my unique perspective is how often DApp developers are confused with blockchain developers. Typically, people who write smart contracts aren’t blockchain developers, and blockchain developers typically spend very little time writing smart contracts.

Ironically, Koinos throws a huge wrench into this distinction as their entire system is implemented as smart contracts! Since Koinos smart contracts are scalable, this means that any functionality can be added to the blockchain without a hard fork, but it also means that the people who develop the blockchain (like the members of the Koinos group) use and develop the same toolchain and toolkit that developers will use to build their DApps. But this is a feature that’s totally unique to Koinos, so we can put it aside for the sake of this discussion.

In all other blockchains, blockchain developers need to develop updates to the programming language the blockchain is written in (C ++, Rust, Haskell, etc.), and they are working on a system. very bulky and complicated called “monolithic architecture”. In monolithic architectures, changing any part of the system can impact any other part of the system, so the risk of making changes is all the greater.

Blockchain developers also need a live environment with low stakes that they can use to test their changes and see what goes wrong. Like app developers, they want this environment to be as close to the real network as possible, which means they want their code to interact with the code that app developers will be running as well.

The two sides of test networks

This reveals the bilateral aspect of the testnets. They allow both application developers and platform developers to interact with each other and test their code safely in an environment as close as possible to a real environment, but with very low stakes. This allows both groups to improve their products and make them more valuable to their users.

We can now begin to understand why test networks seem to have such an impact on the price of tokens. If we assume that price is a function of value and that test networks help developers increase the value of their products, then a price impact should be expected. The problem is that this correlation has led to several unwanted results. Projects will often publish a “testnet” which is of no use to developers for the sole purpose of increasing their token price. Unfortunately, many people will see testnet’s ad and just assume that something valuable has been released, and therefore the act will have the desired effect on the price.

Test networks before the main network

So far, I have focused on the usefulness of test networks in the context of existing blockchains, that is, they create a safe space for application developers to test their applications and to blockchain developers to test underlying platform upgrades. This will help you understand the other important context in which test nets are published, i.e. before the mainnet is released.

Again, testing is the primary focus, but the focus is much more on the system itself, as it has never been up and running before. Of course, since it’s new, no app will run on it anyway. Now the situation is more one-sided. The majority of people working with the codebase will be blockchain developers, and the goal is to bring the platform to a place where the developers actually want to build on it.

The first requirement that developers will have is that the platform is secure enough, and this should be the primary guideline behind the specific tests that are performed. Assuming the developers are confident that the platform is secure enough, then they will need to be trained in how to use the platform. In other words, the testnet should be viewed as an educational tool that allows developers to better understand how they will be able to use the platform while helping to test the security of the network.

Finally, as they test the network and learn how to use it, they will inevitably find places where the platform could be improved – significant libraries might be needed, or extensive documentation might be needed to help them understand the platform. system. This information is invaluable feedback that platform developers should definitely use to improve the platform before mainnet implementations are finalized.

Computer networks have become an important part of our lives whether we realize it or not, and they are only increasing in importance. Test networks are a critical step in the process of creating new and innovative computer networks that can add ever increasing value to our lives. Hopefully, by gaining a better understanding of the nuances of testnets and the important contexts in which they are published, you are now better equipped to assess specific versions of testnet and whether they are designed and released for the right reasons.

This article does not contain any investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move comes with risk, and readers should do their own research before making a decision.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Andrew Levine is the CEO of the Koinos Group, where he and the former development team behind the blockchain Steem create blockchain-based solutions that empower people to take ownership and control of their digital selves. Their core product is Koinos, a high-performance blockchain built on an all-new framework designed to give developers the functionality they need to deliver the user experiences needed to spread blockchain adoption to the masses.

Koinos Group recently released version 2 of its testnet, which features stability improvements, its no-cost mana trading system, and a contract development toolkit that will allow developers to create and run smart contracts on Koinos.

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