Ethereum Testnets For Dummies

Henry Onyebuchi
Sep 21 · 6 min read
Original Illustration by Fabricio Orellano for RC3.

Although most enthusiasts would consider blockchain, formally known as Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), to be intact with Bitcoin, the world’s first and largest — by market capitalization — protocol utilizing this new networking architecture, there is one protocol that brings much more than just an alternative monetary system to the table. You should have naturally guessed by now, that this network is no other than Ethereum.

If you’re new to blockchain, and/or Ethereum, we suggest you take this side-road and read the official introduction to the Ethereum protocol before diving into this article. 🛣

According to CryptoFees.info, these are the top protocols people are actually paying to use. (snapped on 19/09/2021)

Ethereum is by far #1, while nearly every other project, maybe except Bitcoin is based and/or forked from Ethereum, following EVM standards.

Considering that Ethereum test networks are parallel chains, nearly identical to the public version of the Ethereum blockchain (usually referred to as the Ethereum Mainnet), the above guide is essential before grasping how testnets work.

Ethereum Testnets In A Nutshell 🤷‍♂️

Ethereum testnets can be described as independent networks conforming to the EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine) protocol that do not interact with each other.

You can see a test network as a public beta of the Ethereum protocol, where you can test different types of transactions, deploy and monitor the behavior of smart-contracts in x scenario(s), and do as many quality assurance tests as needed, analogizing the fact testnets run on local versions of ETH that anyone can claim for free through a relevant faucet.

Basically, you can claim let’s say 10 “test” ETH, in order to…well…test things out before deploying your dapp and/or single smart-contract on the Ethereum mainnet. 🤷‍♂️

Not only does that empower developers with real-time assessment of their contracts virtually for free, but it also allows content creators to “mint” their first NFTs as test contracts, in order to get a feel of the whole process prior to publishing on the Ethereum mainnet. Once it’s published there, there is no turning back, so take all the time you need to develop a comfortable bond between your web3 wallet and the dapp you’re going to use to mint and/or market your first nifties.

Ethereum testnets are also used by developers to test how smart-contracts already deployed on the mainnet behave when interacting with newly developing contracts, again, ensuring quality before publication.

We’ll talk a little bit about the different test networks you can use, as well as help you get your first free ETH down this article, but first, let’s elaborate on why test networks should be equally valued by NFT creators and Ethereum developers.

Why Should You Care About Test Networks As An NFT Creator

  • Get a decent understanding of the platform you’re going to use as your minting tool for free.

Almost every web3 platform you’re keen on utilizing shall naturally have a presence in at least one test network. You can quick-check the support for each network simply by typing the network name in the URL before the domain of the platform you’re using. Eg. rinkeby.mintbase.com, or rinkeby.opensea.io. That should lead directly to the network-specific version of the respective platform. Keep in mind that you would also have to switch your web3 wallet connectivity to the relevant network to avoid compatibility issues.

If you’re using MetaMask by Consensys, you can easily switch between networks by pressing the relevant section on the main screen.
  • Perform quality assurance tests on your nifties and check how they look on the market before you publish them on mainnet.

After minting an NFT on let’s say the Rinkeby testnet, you can visit the marketplace of the platform you’ve used or a universal NFT marketplace of the likes of OpenSea.io and see how your final asset actually looks, to ensure typographic accuracy, description, spacing, and overall do a quality assessment before crossing the “no turning back point” — which is minting on the Ethereum mainnet.

  • Experience the full process both from the creator’s as well as the collector’s perspective.

List your NFT for various prices, or use various means of payments in terms of supported tokens. Use an alt-wallet, or a friend to buy these test items using the reserve currency required, to see how the buying process looks like, how are gas fees adjusted, how royalty fees are re-routed to the original beneficiary of the smart ownership contract, and overall, get a feeling of the whole process. We highly recommend this should be performed at least once from every new minter.

If you’re unfamiliar with MetaMask and/or any other wallet, visit this link for a detailed guide on Ethereum Wallets for NFT creators.

Most Used Ethereum Test Networks 🕸

Illustration showcasing Rinkeby test network chosen over the Ethereum mainnet by Fabricio Orellano.

The official Ethereum Foundation underlines that it is generally important to test any contract code you write on a testnet before deploying to the Mainnet. If you’re building a dapp that integrates with existing smart contracts, most projects have copies deployed to testnests that you can interact with.

Most testnets use a proof-of-authority consensus mechanism. This means a small number of nodes are chosen to validate transactions and create new blocks — staking their identity in the process. It’s hard to incentivize mining on a proof-of-work testnet which can leave it vulnerable.

So which are the most popular test networks for Ethereum, and what are they mostly used for:

Görli

A proof-of-authority testnet that works across clients.

Kovan

A proof-of-authority testnet for those running OpenEthereum clients.

Rinkeby

A proof-of-authority testnet for those running Geth client.

Ropsten

A proof-of-work testnet. This means it’s the best like-for-like representation of Ethereum.

Testnet Faucets

Since ETH on testnets bears no pragmatic value, there are naturally no markets that empower trading testnet ETH. Hence, you’ll have to get familiar with the faucet responsible for the test network you’re about to use. Most faucets are pretty straightforward and will only ask you for the 0x address the test ETH should be sent to. Try it yourself:

Analogizing the fact we were absent for quite some time (nearly the whole Summer period 2021), we’re kickstarting the new season with a series of educational articles, as well as other industry knowledge pieces you can find on one of our Medium publications.

Let us know if you have any further questions in regards to Ethereum testnets in our Discord, or hit us with ideas about what we should be writing about next. 💕 Stay tuned for some new candies going public next week! <R

About RareCandy3D

We are a virtual publishing house of scarce NFT originals as well as a distribution channel for traditional indie artists, brands, record labels, and products that want to tap into the $2T crypto market without tackling the learning curve that sustains the gap between the two commerce fields.

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