In the minds of blockchain developers: What is a testnet?

Cointelegraph is tracking the development process of a brand new blockchain from the beginning to the mainnet through its “Blockchain Developer’s Mind” series. In the previous part, Andrew Levine Discussion of Koinos Group Some challenges Since identifying the key issues they intend to solve and outlining the three “crises” that hinder blockchain adoption, the team has been facing: Upgradability, Scalability, with Governance.

Blockchain testnets are an interesting topic because they come in various shapes and sizes. Therefore, in this article, my goal is to use my internal experience as the CEO of Koinos Group (the developer of Koinos) to demystify testnets and perhaps gain insight into why they seem to have such a big impact on the price. Impact.

The most obvious starting point is the name: testnet.The purpose of the testnet is test A sort of netWork. At a very high level, the testnet has two “styles.” The first is a testnet released before the mainnet (mainnet), and the second is a testnet released after the mainnet is already running. The functions of these services are similar, but the environment in which they are released greatly affects the perception and impact of the release.

I will start with the second type of testnet, because in a way, this is a more direct context. When you talk about existing networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum, the testnet has two main functions. First, they are a real-time environment where developers can test their decentralized applications. Every good developer knows that there is no such thing as perfect code, so the testnet provides developers with an environment very similar to the “main chain” (such as Ethereum) in which they can effectively test with zero risk Their code. Things running on the testnet are expected to crash, and the tokens used are expected to be worthless.

related: Due to the delay of the difficulty bomb, London forks into the Ethereum testnet

Therefore, the testnet is an environment that enables decentralized application (DApp) developers to increase the value of their applications (ie, to make their applications better) precisely because they do not expect full functionality or wealth. In a sense, the value of the testnet stems from its worthlessness.

DApp developers and blockchain developers

But the two-sided nature of the testnet brings us to the second function of the testnet service, which benefits platform developers, not DApp developers (in our case, blockchain developers). From my unique perspective, one thing I was surprised to see was the frequency with which DApp developers conflated with blockchain developers. Usually, the person who writes the smart contract is not the blockchain developer, and the blockchain developer usually spends very little time writing the smart contract.

Ironically, Koinos discounts this difference because its entire system is implemented as a smart contract! Since Koinos smart contracts are upgradeable, this means that any function can be added to the blockchain without a hard fork, but it also means that people who develop the blockchain (such as members of the Koinos Group) are using and developing The exact same toolchain and toolkit that developers will use to build their DApps. But this is a completely unique feature of Koinos, so we can put it aside for discussion.

In all other blockchains, blockchain developers must use any programming language used by the blockchain (C++, Rust, Haskell, etc.) to develop and update, and they are developing a very large and complex system called “single Body architecture”. In a monolithic architecture, changing any part of the system will affect any other part of the system, so the risk of making changes is much higher.

Blockchain developers also need a low-risk real-time environment that they can use to test their changes and see what went wrong. Like application 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 the application developer will run.

Both sides of the testnet

This reveals two aspects of the testnet. They enable application developers and platform developers to interact with each other and safely test their code in as close to a real-time environment as possible, but with very low risk. This enables both groups to improve their products and make them more valuable to users.

Now we can begin to understand why the testnet seems to have such a big impact on token prices. If we assume that price is a function of value, and the testnet helps developers increase the value of their products, then the price impact should be predictable. The problem is that this correlation leads to several undesirable results. Projects usually release a “testnet” that is useless to developers, the sole purpose of which is to increase their token prices. Unfortunately, many people will see the announcement of the testnet and assume that something of value has been released, so this behavior will have the expected impact on the price.

Testnet before mainnet

So far, I have been focusing on the utility of testnets in the context of existing blockchains, that is, they create a safe space for application developers to test their applications and blockchain developers to test the upgrade of the underlying platform. . This will help you understand another important background for launching the testnet, which is before the mainnet launch.

Once again, testing is the main goal, but the focus is more on the system itself, because it has never been run before. Of course, since it is new, no applications will run on it anyway. The current situation is even more one-sided. Most people who use the code base will be blockchain developers, and the goal is to make the platform a place where developers want to actually build.

The first requirement for developers is that the platform is proven to be sufficiently secure, which should be the main instruction behind the specific tests that are run. Assuming that developers are convinced that the platform is sufficiently secure, they need to be educated on how to use the platform. In other words, the testnet must be seen as an educational tool that enables developers to help test network security while also gaining a deeper understanding of how they will use the platform.

Finally, when they test the network and learn how to use it, they will inevitably find areas where they can improve the platform-important libraries may be needed, or important documentation may be needed to help them understand the system. This information is very valuable feedback, and platform developers absolutely must use them to improve the platform before the mainnet is completed.

Whether we realize it or not, computer networks have become an important part of our lives, and their importance will only increase. The testnet is a key step in the process of launching new and innovative computer networks that can add ever-increasing value to our lives. Hopefully, by gaining a deeper understanding of the nuances of the testnet and the important background of its release, you can now better evaluate specific testnet versions and whether they are designed and released for the right reasons.

This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading action involves risks, and readers should research on their own when making a decision.

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

Andrew Levine Is the CEO of Koinos Group, he and the former development team behind Steem Blockchain built a blockchain-based solution that enables people to own and control their digital selves. Their basic product is Koinos, which is a high-performance blockchain based on a new framework. Its architecture is designed to provide developers with the functions they need in order to provide the necessary user experience to promote blockchain applications to the general public. .

Koinos Group recently released version 2 of their testnet, which features stability improvements, an inability to trade system, and a contract development toolkit that allows developers to build and run smart contracts on Koinos.

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