Blockchain has become a buzzword in the tech world lately. But how exactly do you go about testing it? This article will explain everything you need to know to get started 🏃♂️
Blockchain Testing – Table of Content
- What is a Blockchain?
- Blockchain Testing
- Types of Blockchain Testing
- Tools and Frameworks for Blockchain Testing
- Blockchain Testing Best Practices
- Benefits of Blockchain Testing
- Challenges in Blockchain Testing
What is a Blockchain?
A blockchain is a chain of blocks that contains information. Its technology was originally intended to timestamp digital documents so that it’s not possible to backdate or tamper with them.
A blockchain technology or platform can be used to secure, store, and manage data in a decentralized and cryptic format. This addresses the current challenges of trust or data breach between B2B, B2C, and C2B entities.
It was adopted by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009 to create Bitcoin – a digital cryptocurrency. Blockchain technology has since then revolutionized the way businesses are conducted. It is at the core of digital currencies and utility tokens that have gone mainstream.
A blockchain is a distributed ledger that is completely open to anyone. Each block contains data, hash, and hash of the previous block, thereby making the data stored in it very secure.
Blockchain is being widely accepted in the industry. With the rise of popularity, we need to be ready to adapt existing testing strategies to blockchain technology. But the lack of best practices, the creation of suitable test data, and dealing with scale, security and performance are some of the key testing challenges in the blockchain.
Blockchain testing assists in enabling smart records and ensures fraud security ✅ Data in the blockchain are stored in blocks. Any change in the block will invalidate the subsequent blocks.
This makes it important that whenever a new block is added, it is added in the right way. Since it is complex to exploit a blockchain, the testing of blockchain becomes even more complex. Since large transactions go through processes like encryption and decryption, it becomes necessary that these processes go smoothly.
Types of Blockchain Testing
- Functional Testing- Functional testing is the basic testing of components, systems and their functionality, like the addition of a block in the blockchain, block size, chain size, etc. Every new block is added to the chain once the transaction’s validity is authenticated.
- Integration Testing- Tests the integration or interfaces between components and different parts of the system. As there are multiple components involved in the blockchain application, integration tests should be done properly and frequently, to test that all the components are properly integrated.
- Security Testing- Security testing is essential for blockchain application debugging, as blockchain is used in highly secure financial, government, or regulatory environments.
- Performance Testing- One of the most important criteria of blockchain applications is speed. the performance is based on the size of the network, and transactions are tested in this type of testing.
- Node Testing- A blockchain’s strength is maintained through consensus across all nodes on the order in which the transactions are added to the network. This consensus protocol needs to be tested to ensure transactions are stored in the proper sequence.
- Smart Contracts Testing- Smart contracts are software modules on the blockchain that automatically execute transactions. SC testing involves making sure that the parties involved in transactions are adhering to the rules.
- API Testing- Based on the application, blockchain can trigger events or external applications. API plays a key role here, and API testing needs to consider the interaction of applications in and out of the blockchain system.
Tools and Frameworks for Blockchain Testing
A lack of best practices, the creation of suitable test data, and dealing with scale, security and performance are some of the key testing challenges in blockchain testing. The below frameworks can help to navigate them 🔎
- Ethereum Tester– An open-source testing library available in GitHub. The setup is relatively straightforward, and it has very good API support for forks mining and other testing functions.
- BitCoinJ– A Java-based framework for Bitcoin-based applications. It allows interaction with the BTC network to test transactions.
- Populus– It is built on py.test framework and has Ethereum testing functionality offered in the form of a specific set of features for test contract deployment.
- Ganache– Helps you to examine all blocks and transactions to gain insight into what’s happening under the hood. You can quickly fire up a personal Ethereum blockchain which you can use to run tests, execute commands, and inspect state while controlling how the chain operates.
- Manticore– A symbolic execution tool for the analysis of smart contracts and binaries, with features like Program Exploration, input Generation, Error Discovery, etc.
Blockchain Testing Best Practices
Blockchain testing requires you to have a strong understanding of the entire system. Important focus areas for tests include things like block size, chain size, data transmission and adding a block.
To come up with the best test analysis, it is important to have all the required information. This will in turn lead to plenty of questions from the testers, which will help shape the functionality of the system further.
Blockchains are mainly classified into two categories – public blockchains and private blockchains. The testing approach should be focused on one of these two types. If it is a public blockchain, the focus should be more on network security, smart contract vulnerabilities, wallet security, etc. If it is a private blockchain, the testing focus should be on the component level tests, smart contract, identity management, infrastructure security, etc.
For test coverage, testers should be able to add blocks and interact with them easily and effectively. When the block size increases, the complexity of block processing increases 📈 Testers need to ensure that in each new transaction, the integrity of the chain is maintained, and nothing goes missing.
Starting by thinking small and not focusing largely on the end-to-end testing will help you go a long way. Yes, end-to-end testing will still be required for all parts of the system, but the blockchain components like smart contracts can operate largely independently and should be tested as such.
To ensure that the testing is done correctly, tools are needed to implement a system under test (SUT) which reflects the production environment with high fidelity. Identifying the right tool for the specific blockchain technology of the app is a major step.
Testing a blockchain app requires a huge effort, and therefore like any software project, a blockchain project also needs automation of as many tests as possible. Automated tests would help save time and testing effort.
Setting up the test environment is another important aspect. Compared to the public blockchain, setting up the test environment is easy in a private blockchain, as it can be set up by configuring the deployment tools with customized functionality.
Implementing BC-based systems without paying special care to immutability carries a significant asset risk to institutions or users, particularly in financial applications. Therefore, the users must be aware of the possible output(s) of a transaction that they are performing.
Testers need to ensure that smart contracts are checked for such possible transaction validation and verification codes, before their deployment in the blockchain network.
Performance evaluation needs to be carried out as part of blockchain testing. The aim of performance testing in BC typically includes identifying the bottlenecks, defining the metrics for tuning the system, and assessing whether the implementation design is production-ready.
Accurate and comprehensive performance testing with varying workloads and fault loads is a key to gathering insights into how the BC-App will perform in both production environments, and under specific loads and network conditions.
Benefits of Blockchain Testing
- Blockchain testing eliminates the defects in a decentralized ledger.
- Implementing blockchain testing helps with validating all the different entities the system is involved in.
- It ensures that the developed blockchain ecosystem is functioning as expected.
- It helps organizations build and use blockchain technology and the connected infrastructure securely.
- It will help reduce the risk of adding new applications, as well as help revalidate the implementation smoothly.
Challenges in Blockchain Testing
Blockchain technology is now widely used for building cryptocurrencies and utility tokens. Fast-faced Web 3.0 adaptation and innovation calls for blockchain testing expertise.
While blockchain testing extends across different types of testing like functional, integration, performance, etc., overall validation calls for high proficiency in QA best practices.
Creating enough user-specific data to ensure you can meet all the required use cases is a key challenge. Immutability of transactions on the technology means there can be little margin for error.
The security that blockchain provides only applies to the data in it and the endpoints that interact with it. Blockchain hacks have occurred in the past where hackers compromised messages that interact with it.
Blockchain testing ensures that all components in the system are working properly and that all applications are interacting with it in a trustworthy manner.
As blockchain adoption grows, the need to deliver high-quality products cannot be met without investing in blockchain and blockchain testing expertise. When it comes to choosing specific system testing techniques and tools, there can’t be a one-size-fits-all solution. It is fully dependent on the type and goals of your application, as well as on the network it’s based on.
Blockchain is a technology that truly challenges the skill set of teams, allowing them to be at their best and make the quality of their applications a success 💪