Cointelegraph has been pursuing the development of an entirely new blockchain from inception to the mainnet and beyond with its series, Inside the Blockchain Developer’s Mind. In the previous parts, Andrew Levine From the Koinos . collection some challenges The team has since faced identification of the main problems they intend to solve and identified three “crises” holding back blockchain adoption: upgradeAnd scalability, And judgment.
Blockchain networks are an interesting topic because they come in all shapes and sizes. So, in this post, my goal is to leverage my in-house experience as CEO of Koinos Group (Koinos Developers) to demystify testnets and perhaps give some insight into why it affects the price.
The clearest place to start is the name: TestClear. The purpose of the testnet is Test a Clearwork. At a very high level, there are two “flavors” of the testnet. The first is a testnet released before the mainnet (the mainnet), and the second is a testnet that is released after the mainnet is already operational. The functions they serve are similar, but the context in which they are released greatly affects the perception and impact of the release.
I’ll start with the second type of testnet because, in a way, that’s the direct context. When you talk about existing networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum, testnets serve two primary functions. The first is that it is a live environment in which developers can test their decentralized applications. Every good developer knows there is no such thing as perfect code, so testnets give developers a very “main chain” (like Ethereum) environment where they can effectively test their code without any risk. Things running on a test network are expected to crash, and the tokens used are expected to be worthless.
Related: London fork enters testnet on Ethereum as bomb difficulty sees delay
So, testnets is an environment where DApp developers can increase the value of their applications (i.e. make their applications better) precisely because there is no expectation of full functionality or wealth creation. In a sense, the value of 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 this function is not for the benefit of the DApp developer, but rather the platform developer (in our case, the blockchain developer). One of the things I was surprised to see from my unique perspective is how common it is for DApp developers to mix with blockchain developers. Usually the people who write smart contracts are not blockchain developers, and blockchain developers generally spend very little time writing smart contracts.
Ironically, Koinos throws a big key at this distinction because their entire system is implemented as smart contracts! Since Koinos smart contracts are upgradeable, this means that any feature 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) use and develop the same toolchain and toolkit that developers will use to build their DApps . But this is a feature completely unique to Koinos, so we can put that aside for the sake of this discussion.
In every other blockchain, blockchain developers have to develop updates in whatever programming language the blockchain is written in (C++, Rust, Haskell, etc.), and they are working on a very large and complex system called a “monolithic architecture”. Within monolithic architectures, changing any part of the system can affect any other part of the system, so the risk of making changes is much higher.
Blockchain developers also need a live, low-risk environment that they can use to test their changes and see what breaks. Like application developers, they want this environment to be as close as possible to the real network, which means they want their code to interact with code that the application developers will be running as well.
Two sides of test networks
This reveals two aspects of testnets. It enables application and platform developers to interact with each other and safely test their code as close to the live environment as possible, but with very low risk. This enables both groups to improve their products and make them more valuable to their users.
Now we can start to see why testnets affect the price of the token. If we assume that price is a function of value, and test networks help developers to increase the value of their products, then the effect of price should be expected. The problem is that this association led to several undesirable results. Projects often release a useless “testnet” to developers with the sole purpose of increasing the price of their token. Unfortunately, many people will see the testnet ad and just assume that something of value has been released, so the action will have the desired effect on the price.
Testnets before mainnet
So far, I’ve been focusing on the usefulness of testnets in the context of existing blockchains, which is that they create a secure space for application developers to test their applications and for blockchain developers to test upgrades on the platform. This will help you understand the other important context in which testnets are released, which predates the release of mainnet.
Again, testing is the primary goal, but the focus is much more on the system itself, because it hasn’t been run before. Of course, since it’s new, no apps will run on it anyway. Now the situation is more than one-sided. The majority of people working with the database will be blockchain developers, and the goal is to move the platform to a place that developers actually want to build on.
The first requirement for developers will be to prove that the platform is secure enough, and this should be the main guidance behind the specific tests that are run. Assuming that the developers are convinced that the platform is secure enough, they will need to teach them how to use the platform. In other words, testnet should be thought of as a learning tool that enables developers to gain a deeper understanding of how they can use the platform while also helping to test network security.
Finally, as they test the network and learn how to use it, they will inevitably find places where the platform can be improved – important libraries may be needed, or important documentation may be needed to help them understand the system. This information is invaluable feedback which platform developers should use to improve the platform before the mainnet implementation is finished.
Computer networks have become a major part of our lives whether we realize it or not, and they are only getting more and more important. Test networks are a critical step in the process of unlocking new and innovative computer networks that can add increased value to our lives. Hopefully, by gaining a deeper understanding of the nuances of testnets and the important contexts in which they are released, you are now better equipped to evaluate specific versions of the testnet and whether they are being designed and released for the right reasons.
This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risks, and readers should do their own research when making a decision.
The opinions, ideas and opinions expressed here are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Andrew Levine He is the CEO of the Koinos Group, where he and the former development team behind Steem Blockchain have built blockchain-based solutions that empower people to take control of their digital selves. Their core product is Koinos, a high-performance blockchain built on an entirely new framework designed to give developers the features they need in order to deliver the user experiences needed to spread blockchain adoption to the masses.
The Koinos group recently released version 2 of their testnet, which features stability improvements, a fee-free Mana transaction system and a contract development toolkit that will allow developers to build and run smart contracts on Koinos.