Blockchain networks operate continuously, processing transactions at rates that run into the thousands per second. As validator nodes add new blocks to the chain they are linked cryptographically to the previous block, creating an immutable ledger that records all the network’s transactions.
This continuous process means that before a blockchain goes live, or introduces any upgrade, it must undergo rigorous testing to ensure that it will work as expected without errors or disruptions. Any bugs in the code could result in users having their personal information compromised or their assets stolen.
Blockchain developers, therefore, use copies of the network – known as testnets – to test out protocols and applications in a staging environment that replicates how they would work on the live blockchain – known as a mainnet.
In this testnet comparison article, we explore testnets on Venom and other blockchains, their key features, use cases, and how they compare.
What is a testnet?
A testnet is a separate blockchain network designed for testing and experimentation. The network is virtually identical to the live version, but each block and cryptocurrency on a testnet contains a marker so that they cannot be transferred to the live blockchain by accident or malicious attack. The cryptocurrencies and tokens issued on the testnet have no real value; their purpose is to simulate how they would work to facilitate transactions and the use of apps on the live blockchain.
Blockchain testnets allow developers and users to test new protocol functionality and applications without risking mistakes that could result in the loss of real assets. Testing on simulated networks helps to identify bugs, security vulnerabilities, and performance issues so that they can be corrected and not deployed on the mainnet.
Importance of testnets in blockchain ecosystems
Testnets play a vital role in blockchain development. As well as allowing developers to test their code to reduce errors and vulnerabilities, testnets facilitate collaboration among developers and users, who can provide feedback and suggestions and bug reports that they encounter when testing apps.
Testnets also help to build trust and confidence in a blockchain network among enthusiasts, potential users, and investors by demonstrating the development team’s commitment to ensuring its security, functionality, and reliability.
And by testing various use cases and applications, testnets help to identify potential challenges and limitations of a blockchain’s implementation, which can inform future development and deployment strategies.
Venom is a multi-layer blockchain that aims to provide a high-speed, scalable, and secure infrastructure for decentralized applications (dApps), particularly in decentralized finance (DeFI). The protocol uses a hybrid proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus algorithm with Byzantine fault tolerance (BFT) that allows validators to participate as nodes for processing transactions by staking VENOM tokens. The Venom testnet launched in April 2023, enabling developers and users to interact with the Venom blockchain and experience how the mainnet will operate when it goes live.
The testnet provides a secure staging environment for Venom developers and users to explore decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols, dApps and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in the ecosystem. The innovative platform aims to enhance the network’s security by inviting researchers and developers to perform stress tests and report errors and build the Venom community by engaging in conversations to improve how the blockchain network and dApps operate.
The Venom Network is designed to provide the scalability needed for the widespread adoption of blockchain technology for financial services. The development team is focused on bridging the gap between blockchain networks and financial institutions with DeFi apps and central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).
Venom promotes interoperability between blockchain networks with its multiple-chain architecture, which connects workchains and shardchains with its masterchain. This structure allows the network to break up blocks of transactions into “shards”, which are smaller parcels of data that can be validated in parallel to speed up transaction processing. This means that Venom can achieve real-life speeds of 100,000 up to 1 million transactions per second (tps) and finalize blocks in 0.2-0.3 seconds.
Venom’s modular, highly scalable structure means that it does not have a technical limit to the number of users that can make transactions on the blockchain, which is crucial for the adoption of blockchain networks in financial services on a global scale.
Venom’s PoS consensus mechanism helps to keep the network secure as validators must stake their tokens to be able to participate in block verification and receive block rewards, so they have a vested interest in the network’s operation and security. The higher the number of validators and staked tokens, the harder it is for malicious attackers to gain control of enough nodes to disrupt the network.
Use cases and applications
Venom is committed to bringing DeFi services to the unbanked using trustless blockchain technology, without the need for third parties like traditional financial institutions. The Venom Network can be used for a variety of dApps and services, including lending, borrowing, and trading platforms and provide the scalability needed to onboard billions of users.
The testnet enables developers to build and test dApps to check how they will work on the live blockchain and improve the user experience with fast and intuitive interfaces. Users can get a first-hand view of how cryptocurrencies and dApps work on the blockchain while helping developers to identify areas for improvement.
The Venom testnet debuts eight dApps, including the Venom Wallet; VenomPools for staking VENOM tokens; the VenomScan blockchain explorer, VenomBridge for transferring assets with other blockchains, VenomStake for maximizing staking rewards, the Web3.World decentralized exchange (DEX), the Oasis.Gallery NFT marketplace, and VenomPad project launchpad.
The Venom Testnet is an innovative platform that provides extensive documentation for developers and provides users with VENOM tokens and NFTs as rewards for completing tasks to test the dApps.
The testnet can be used to:
* Experiment with new app development
* Practice trading and minting VENOM tokens and NFTs
* Swap between VENOM tokens, stablecoins and wrapped tokens
* Provide liquidity for token pools
* Practice asset farming
* Stake tokens in Venom Pools
* Experiment with using Venom Bridge to transfer tokens between the testnet and other blockchains.
How does the Venom Testnet compare with other major blockchain testnets?
Ethereum, the leading smart contract blockchain platform, has more than one testnet that protocol and smart contract developers can use to build and test their applications before launching them on the mainnet.
In the past, the Ropsten and Rinkeby testnets were Ethereum’s main testing environments. However, following The Merge upgrade to the blockchain and the transition from a proof of work (PoW) consensus to PoS, they are no longer suitable testing grounds. Ropsten, the oldest PoW testnet, was shut down during the fourth quarter of 2022 and the Rinkeby proof-of-authority (PoA) testnet will be shut down in the second or third quarter of 2023.
The Kiln testnet, which was launched to test The Merge before it went live, was shut down shortly after the mainnet transitioned to the PoS algorithm.
The Ethereum Foundation has encouraged users to migrate as quickly as possible to the newer Goerli or Sepolia testnets to test protocols and applications following The Merge.
Key features and use cases
Sepolia is the recommended default testnet for application development on Ethereum. Developers can use it to test smart contracts, dApps and other functions enabled by the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM).
Sepolia uses a closed set of validators controlled by client and testing teams. As the testnet is relatively new, it has fewer applications deployed than other testnets, so its state and history are relatively small – making it fast to sync while taking up minimal storage space. This is useful for developers who want to quickly set up a node and interact with the network directly.
The Goerli testnet launched in 2019 and employs a PoA consensus algorithm that is similar to the one that was used by Rinkeby. It has a similar block processing time of around 15 seconds and is designed to test features of Ethereum 2.0 such as shard chains. Goerli is open for users to run a testnet validator, so stakers can use it to test protocol upgrades before they are deployed to the mainnet.
However, Goerli is also being phased out and will be replaced by the Holesovice testnet in 2023. Holesovice, also known as Holešky, will be the first long-standing public testnet created on the Ethereum blockchain since The Merge and it will operate as a staking, infrastructure and protocol development testnet. In the meantime, developers can migrate their tests to Sepolia.
Unlike Ethereum with its multiple testnets for different functionalities, the Bitcoin blockchain has a single testnet in operation at any one time. But as with any other testnet, the Bitcoin testing blockchain allows developers to experiment with protocol changes and applications without using real bitcoins or risking breaking the live Bitcoin mainnet. The Bitcoin testnet is a public resource that the community has created for free use.
There have been three versions of the Bitcoin testnet. Testnet2 was a reset of the first testnet with a different genesis, or first, block to prevent users from trading testnet coins for real money.
Testnet3 is the latest version, which was introduced with the Bitcoin 0.7 release, with a third genesis block. It implements a new rule to avoid the problems created by too high or low difficulty levels, which slowed down transaction verification, and contains blocks with edge-case transactions that are designed to test compatibility. Bitcoin Testnet3 uses a PoW consensus algorithm like the mainnet and has a block processing time of around 10 minutes.
The Bitcoin testnet relaxes some restrictions that are present on the live blockchain, such as standard transaction checks, so that developers can test functions that would be disabled by default on the mainnet to ensure network security.
Developers and users can receive free satoshis for testing by using a testnet faucet.
Bitcoin Core, an open-source software client that acts as a Bitcoin node and provides a wallet, has a regression test (regtest) mode. In contexts where developers do not need or want to interact with random peers and blocks on the network, regtest mode allows developers to create a brand-new private blockchain. These chains have the same basic features as the testnet but they allow the developer to choose when to create new blocks, giving them complete control. For this reason, some developers prefer to use regtest mode to develop new applications rather than the testnet.
Use cases and applications
* Bitcoin Testnet3 can be used for a range of applications and use cases, including:
* Experimenting with Bitcoin block validation and mining
* Testing wallets and payment systems
* Developing and testing Bitcoin-based smart contracts and dApps
Binance Smart Chain Testnet
The Binance Smart Chain (BSC) is a new blockchain in the Binance ecosystem that was deployed in 2020 to run smart contracts. BSC is compatible with the EVM and supports the development of smart contracts and dApps using the Solidity programming language. This makes it easy for developers to migrate their Ethereum apps to BSC as it aims to become an alternative smart contract platform to the Ethereum blockchain.
BSC can process up to 100 transactions per second, with a block time of around 3 seconds and fees as low as $0.01. The blockchain provides support for the BEP-20 token standard, which is similar to Ethereum’s ERC-20 standard. It also offers built-in support for dApps including staking, automated market makers (AMMs), and yield farming.
The Binance Smart Chain testnet is designed to simulate the conditions on the live BSC blockchain. Developers can use the testnet to try out dApps and test their functionality before they launch them on the mainnet.
As on other testnets, the digital assets on the BSC testnet hold no real-world value. They are used for testing wallets and other apps on the BSC, as well as testing trading strategies without financial risk. Tokens on the testnet function in the same way as real tokens, so they can be used to project and pay for transaction fees for DeFi apps on the testnet.
Developers and users can receive a small amount of testnet Binance tokens (BNB) for free from faucet websites. Testnet tokens can be reset during testnet upgrades, but holders can receive more from the faucets.
Use cases and applications
The BSC testnet can be used for various applications and scenarios, including:
* Developing new applications on BSC
* Testing applications against new versions of BSC
* Trying BNB tutorials without the risk of losing assets
* Analyzing blockchain data on smaller set than the public network.
Polkadot and Kusama Testnet
Polkadot is a multi-chain network that aims to provide a scalable and interoperable platform for dApps by enabling parallel block processing and communication between blockchains for seamless data and asset transfers.
Kusama is a sister network of Polkadot that was initially designed as a “canary network” for developers to experiment with parachains, apps and sharding functionalities in a live environment before releasing them on the larger Polkadot network. The idea was that the impact would be smaller if there were problems or bugs in a release on Kusama than Polkadot. Kusama has since become more of an independent network with scope to evolve in different directions than Polkadot.
Kusama is a live, fully functional blockchain network with its own tokens that hold real value. Kusama sits between a Polkadot testnet and a mainnet, according to Polkadot’s developers. Both are standalone networks with different target audiences. Kusama is focused on supporting experimentation and early-stage deployment, while Polkadot prioritizes stability and reliability.
There are a few differences in the way Polkadot and Kusama operate. To run parachains, developers are required to bond tokens as security. Kusama requires fewer tokens for bonding than Polkadot, making it more affordable. Kusama has modified its governance rules, allowing for four times faster approval for upgrades than Polkadot.
Some projects maintain parachains on both networks and test new features on Kusama before deploying them to Polkadot. Some projects will experiment on Kusama and not deploy on Polkadot, such as apps that require high throughput but not advanced, bank-level security – for example gaming, social networking, and content distribution apps.
Kusama can also be used to test concepts in areas such as monetary policy, governance, incentives, and decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs). Polkadot’s developers are likely to test future upgrades to the Polkadot runtime on Kusama before the Polkadot mainnet.
However, Polkadot and Kusama do have a separate testnet. Westend has replaced the previous Alexander testnet to provide developers and users with a more accurate representation of how they interact with the live blockchains.
Users do not need Polkadot’s DOT or Kusama’s KSM tokens to experiment with Westend, removing the risk of losing assets. Westend has its own testnet tokens called Westies, which hold no economic value. Like its predecessor Alexander, Westend has a faucet where developers and users can claim test tokens twice per address every 24 hours.
Westend has the same features as Polkadot such as session length and governance. Users can deploy full, sentry, or validator nodes, or use Westies to test other functions including staking, identity and social recovery.
Use cases and applications
The use cases for Westend include:
* Building and deploying a parachain
* Experimenting with Polkadot’s governance, staking, nomination, and validation functionality in a pre-live testing environment
* Testing validator deployments
* Testing transaction submissions on exchanges and in wallets
Cardano aims to provide a more secure, scalable, and sustainable alternative to other smart contract blockchain networks. Cardano runs a PoS consensus algorithm and offers high scalability and processing capacity, supporting up to 1,000 tps. The blockchain has a multi-layer architecture that allows for flexible and modular development of protocols and dApps.
Like Ethereum, Cardano has multiple testnets for developers and users to test and deploy applications before the go live on the mainnet.
The Preview Testnet is designed to introduce new features and functionality to the Cardano community, allowing members to test and provide feedback to ensure that the changes are user-friendly.
The Guild Network is a community-maintained public testnet that is designed for rapid testing of developments and integrations, as the network runs short 1-hour epochs. The testnet it has gone through previous forks, or spin offs from the Cardano blockchain with minimal data, enabling fast processing.
The Pre-Production Testnet is a staging area used to validate major upgrades and releases to enszure they work as expected before they are deployed on the mainnet. This helps to reduuce the risk of bugs, security issues, or other problems that could disrupt the live blockchain. The Pre-Production Testnet is a comprehensive testing environment, while the Preview Testnet facilitates more targeted testing and feedback from the community for specific new features.
Users and developers can receive testnet ADA tokens, which carry no real-world value but allow them to safely carry out testing for free with no risk to real assets.
Use cases and applications
Cardano testnets can be used for a range of functions, including:
* testing Cardano integration
* building with transaction metadata
* exploring native tokens
* learning how to operate a staking pool
The bottom line
Testnets play an essential role in blockchain deployment. They allow developers and users to experiment with new features in a safe and efficient environment before launching them on live networks, reducing risks and improve the overall security and functionality of blockchain networks.
When choosing a testnet, it’s important to consider factors such as the scalability, security, interoperability, and ease of use of the live blockchain the testnet represents. Developers should also consider the specific use cases and requirements of their applications when choosing which testnet will be most effective.
As the adoption of blockchain technology continues to grow, the need for robust and scalable testnets will become even more important. Testnets will continue to play a key role in the evolution of blockchain technologies, enabling developers to deploy new features and applications with confidence.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.