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Blockchain Testing: How to do it?

The launch of Bitcoin in 2009 introduced the concept of blockchain to the world. As the first decentralized digital currency, Bitcoin showcased blockchain as its underlying technology. It enabled secure and transparent financial transactions without the need for a central authority. These days, blockchain has been adopted across various industries like finance and banking, healthcare, supply chain management, real estate, the energy sector, and more.

You need to test blockchain applications to maximize their potential. This post will help you better understand blockchain and blockchain testing.

What is blockchain?

Imagine a giant spreadsheet that everyone can see but no one can change. That’s kind of like a blockchain. It’s a special way to track things like money, votes, or even house ownership. Here’s what goes into blockchain:

  • Information is stored in blocks, like entries in a spreadsheet.
  • These blocks are chained together, creating a chronological history.
  • Cryptography, a fancy way of scrambling information, secures each block and links it to the one before it.

This creates a tamper-proof record. If someone tries to change something, it would mess up the entire chain, and everyone would know. Because everyone can see the information on the blockchain, it builds trust and reduces the need for middlemen. It’s like having a constantly updated public record that everyone agrees on.

Benefits of blockchain

Components of blockchain

Blockchain comprises the following components:

1. Block

Information on the blockchain is grouped into blocks. Each block contains:

  • Transaction data: This could be financial transactions (cryptocurrency), data transfers, or even instructions for smart contracts to execute.
  • Hash: This is a unique cryptographic fingerprint of the block’s data. Any change to the data would alter the hash, making it tamper-evident.
  • Previous block hash: This links each block to the one before it, creating a chronological chain.

2. Chain

The chain is a series of blocks linked sequentially. It starts with the genesis block (the first block) and extends to the current block, containing the entire history of transactions made in the blockchain.

3. Distributed ledger

This is the heart of blockchain. Each block in the chain holds transaction data, and copies of this ledger are distributed across all participating computers in the network. This decentralization eliminates the need for a central authority to control the data.

4. Consensus mechanism

This is the process by which all participants in the network agree on the validity of transactions and the addition of new blocks to the chain. Different consensus mechanisms exist, such as Proof of Work (PoW), which is used in Bitcoin, where miners compete to solve complex puzzles to earn the right to add a block. The chosen mechanism ensures everyone has the same, up-to-date version of the ledger.

5. Cryptographic hash

Cryptography plays a vital role in securing blockchain data. A cryptographic hash function takes any input data and generates a unique fixed-size output string (hash). This hash acts like a fingerprint for the data. Any change to the data will drastically alter the hash, making it nearly impossible to tamper with a block without detection.

6. Smart contracts

They are self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement directly written into lines of code. They exist across the blockchain network. Smart contracts automatically execute transactions and other specified actions when predetermined conditions are met without the need for a middleman.

7. Transactions

They are the actions carried out by the blockchain users, such as transferring cryptocurrency or data between parties. Transactions are the primary means of interacting with a blockchain, initiating the process of updating the blockchain ledger.

How does blockchain work?

Here is a breakdown of how blockchain works with the help of an example:

Step 1: Transaction

Everything begins with a transaction, which could be any kind of data exchange like sending money, voting, or transferring ownership of something. For example, if Alice wants to send some digital currency to Bob, she initiates a transaction.

Step 2: Transaction broadcast

Alice’s transaction is then broadcast to all the nodes in the blockchain network. Each node in the network receives the details of this transaction.

Step 3: Verification

The nodes in the network verify the transaction. In the case of a cryptocurrency, this involves checking whether Alice has the amount she wants to send to Bob. Nodes use historical data in the blockchain to verify transactions. This step helps prevent fraud and ensures that each transaction complies with the network rules.

Step 4: Forming a block

Once a transaction is verified, it’s bundled with other transactions that have occurred in a similar timeframe and added to a new block. This block contains data from previous transactions and other new transactions waiting to be added to the blockchain.

Step 5: Hashing

Each block includes a unique code called a hash, as well as the hash of the previous block in the chain. The hash is like a digital fingerprint created by a mathematical function that turns digital information into a string of numbers and letters. If that information is edited in any way, the hash code changes as well.

Step 6: Proof of work

To add a block to the blockchain, nodes must solve a complex mathematical problem known as proof of work. This process involves computing power and time, which helps secure the network. The first node to solve the problem gets the right to add the new block to the blockchain.

Step 7: Adding to the blockchain

After the proof of work is completed, the new block is added to the blockchain. This addition is considered secure and almost impossible to alter.

Step 8: Consensus

The blockchain uses a consensus model to agree upon the validity of transactions. This means that a majority of nodes must confirm that the block is valid before it’s added to the blockchain. This consensus prevents potential fraud and ensures all nodes have the same data in the blockchain.

Step 9: Updating nodes

Once the block is added to the blockchain, it is broadcast to all nodes in the network. Each node updates its copy of the blockchain to reflect the new block.

Types of blockchain

Here are the types of blockchains that are followed:

Public blockchains: These are open and permissionless, meaning anyone can join the network and participate in the consensus mechanism (how transactions are validated). Examples include Bitcoin and Ethereum. Public blockchains offer the highest level of transparency and security but can be slower and more expensive due to the large number of participants involved.

Private blockchains: These are permissioned networks controlled by a single organization or consortium of organizations. Only authorized participants can join and validate transactions. Private blockchains offer faster transaction speeds and scalability but are less transparent and decentralized compared to public blockchains.

Consortium blockchains: These are a hybrid approach, combining features of public and private blockchains. A consortium, typically a group of businesses or organizations with a shared interest, governs the network. Consortium blockchains offer more control and scalability than public blockchains while maintaining a degree of decentralization and transparency.

Hybrid blockchains: These combine elements of both public and private blockchains. They may have a public chain for certain functionalities and a private chain for others. This allows for a balance between transparency, security, scalability, and control.

Feature Public Blockchain Private Blockchain Consortium Blockchain Hybrid Blockchain
Permission Permissionless Permissioned Permissioned Varies
Transparency High Low Moderate Varies
Decentralization High Low Moderate Varies
Security High High High High (depends on design)
Scalability Lower Higher Higher Moderate
Transaction Speed Slower Faster Faster Varies
Control Decentralized Centralized Partially Decentralized Varies
Suited for Suitable for applications where transparency and security are paramount Ideal for situations where a high degree of control and scalability is required Well-suited for collaborations between multiple organizations Can be used in scenarios where a mix of public and private functionalities is needed
Example Cryptocurrencies and decentralized finance (DeFi) Supply chain management within a company Trade finance or healthcare data sharing Regulatory compliance or identity management

What is blockchain testing?

Blockchain testing can be seen as a specialized process of verifying and validating the functionality, security, and performance of blockchain applications. This includes testing individual components like smart contracts, transactions, nodes, and the entire blockchain system to ensure they operate correctly, efficiently, and securely. Testing over here aims to uncover any issues or vulnerabilities before the blockchain solution is deployed in a live environment.

You can view blockchain testing like a brand-new lock. You give it a good shake to ensure it works perfectly before using it for something important.

Why is blockchain testing important?

Here’s why blockchain testing is essential:

  • Blockchain stores valuable things: Imagine a digital vault holding money, contracts, or other important information. Blockchain testing makes sure this vault is super secure and no one can break in.
  • Things need to work smoothly: Transactions need to happen quickly and correctly, like sending money to a friend. Testing ensures everything runs smoothly without any hiccups.
  • Finding hidden weaknesses: Just like a tiny crack can weaken a lock, small bugs in the code can make a blockchain vulnerable. Testing helps find and fix these problems before they become a big deal.

What do testers check during blockchain testing?

  • Can people send and receive things correctly? Like making sure money goes to the right person when sent through the blockchain.
  • Are the instructions (smart contracts) written properly? These are like mini-programs that run on the blockchain, and testing makes sure they work as intended without any errors.
  • Can the system handle a lot of traffic? Imagine a busy store with lots of customers. Testing makes sure the blockchain isn’t overwhelmed if many people try to use it at once.

Areas to test during blockchain testing

Like every other system, you must test the application before releasing it to the masses. The same applies to blockchain applications. Here’s why you should test them:

  • Security: Blockchain technology is known for its security, but it’s not foolproof. Hackers are constantly looking for vulnerabilities, and thorough testing helps identify and fix weaknesses before they can be exploited. This safeguards the valuable data and assets stored on the blockchain, such as cryptocurrencies, contracts, or confidential records.
  • Functionality: A blockchain system needs to function as intended. Testing ensures transactions are processed correctly, smart contracts (self-executing programs on the blockchain) run without errors, and users can interact with the system smoothly. Imagine sending money through a blockchain – testing makes sure it goes to the right person, and the amount is accurate.
  • Performance: Imagine a busy road – a blockchain needs to handle a high volume of transactions without slowing down or crashing. Testing helps identify bottlenecks and ensures the system can scale to meet real-world demands.
  • Trust and reliability: Since blockchains are often used in situations where trust is essential, rigorous testing builds confidence in the system’s reliability. When people know a blockchain has been thoroughly tested, they’re more likely to trust it with their data and assets.

Types of testing done for blockchain

During blockchain testing, you need to focus on the following aspects:

  • Functional testing: This involves verifying that all the features of the blockchain application work as intended. You should check whether the transactions are processed correctly, smart contracts execute as per their logic, and the consensus mechanisms (rules for validating transactions) are adhered to.
  • Smart contract testing: Since smart contracts automate transactions and other actions on the blockchain, it’s crucial to test them for accuracy and to ensure they’re free from bugs or vulnerabilities. Here, checks for logical errors, proper execution, and potential security issues like reentrancy attacks or overflow errors are done.
  • Security testing: This is one of the most critical aspects of blockchain testing. You need to look for vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers through:
    • Node security: Ensuring that the individual nodes (computers in the blockchain network) are secure against unauthorized access.
    • Network security: Testing the resilience of the blockchain against network-based attacks, such as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.
    • Cryptography practices: Verifying that cryptographic methods are implemented correctly to protect data and transactions.
  • Performance testing: This type of testing is crucial to see how the blockchain performs under different conditions. It includes:
    • Throughput: The number of transactions a blockchain can process per second.
    • Latency: The time it takes for a transaction to be confirmed on the blockchain.
    • Network size scalability: How well does the blockchain scale as more nodes join the network?
  • API testing: Since many blockchain applications provide APIs for integrating with other software, testers ensure these APIs function correctly, securely, and efficiently under various conditions.
  • Peer/node testing: This tests the ability of nodes to communicate with each other and stay in sync even under adverse conditions. This includes checking the consensus process and what happens if a node goes down or acts maliciously.
  • Load testing: Here, you need to simulate high loads on the system to see how it handles large numbers of transactions or heavy data throughput to ensure the blockchain doesn’t crash or slow down significantly.
  • Regression testing: Whenever updates or new features are added to the blockchain system, regression testing is performed to ensure that these changes don’t adversely affect existing functionalities.
  • User Interface (UI) testing: If the blockchain application has a graphical interface, you should check the usability, accessibility, and functionality of the UI to ensure it meets user requirements and is free of bugs.

Phases of blockchain testing

Let’s take a look at the different phases of blockchain testing:

  • Initiation phase: This involves understanding the system’s architecture, functionalities, and business requirements. You become familiar with how the blockchain works and what needs to be tested. Over here, you also define the overall testing strategy and approach.
  • Design phase: During this phase, you should create detailed test cases outlining specific scenarios and expected outcomes. Also identify the necessary test data and set up the testing environment, which may involve local blockchain simulations or connections to real blockchain networks.
  • Implementation phase: This is where the actual testing takes place. Here, you execute the test cases, analyze results, identify bugs or issues, and report them to developers.
  • Completion phase: Once identified issues are fixed and retested, the testing process is complete. You can also provide recommendations for ongoing monitoring and maintenance of the blockchain system.

Blockchain testing best practices

You can up your blockchain testing game by incorporating these practices:

  • Early and continuous integration: Don’t wait until the end of development to test. Integrate testing throughout the development lifecycle. This allows you to catch and fix bugs early on when they’re easier and cheaper to address. This iterative approach helps ensure a high-quality final product.
  • Security-first mindset: Security should be a top priority from the very beginning. Security testing should be woven throughout all phases of the testing process, not as an afterthought. Utilize tools like penetration testing and vulnerability assessments to proactively identify and fix security weaknesses before they can be exploited.
  • Domain expertise: Effective blockchain testing requires a good understanding of the technology and its underlying protocols. Testers should be familiar with the specific blockchain platform being used, as well as general blockchain concepts like cryptography, consensus mechanisms, and smart contracts. This knowledge allows them to design more targeted and relevant test cases.
  • Leverage automation: Testing frameworks and scripts can automate repetitive tasks, freeing testers to focus on more complex scenarios and exploratory testing. Automation can significantly improve efficiency and ensure consistent testing throughout the development process.
  • Collaboration is key: Effective communication and collaboration between developers, testers, and other stakeholders is crucial. Testers should clearly document their findings and work with developers to resolve issues promptly. Regular communication ensures everyone is on the same page and working towards a common goal.
  • Testing different environments: Don’t just test in a perfect, isolated setting. Consider testing across various environments, including local testnets, development networks, and potentially even a public testnet (if available). This helps identify how the system behaves under different conditions and prepares it for real-world use.
  • Focus on different testing types: A well-rounded testing approach requires going beyond just functionality. Perform a variety of tests, including security testing, performance testing, and non-functional testing (usability, scalability, reliability). This comprehensive approach helps identify potential issues in various aspects of the blockchain system.
  • Stay up-to-date: The world of blockchain is constantly evolving. You should stay updated on the latest security threats, testing tools, and best practices. Attending conferences, workshops, or online courses can be valuable ways to stay current with the ever-changing landscape.

How testRigor can help?

  • Cloud-hosted: testRigor eliminates the need for companies to invest in setting up and maintaining their own test automation infrastructure and device cloud. This translates to significant savings in time, effort, and cost. Once teams are signed in and subscribed, they can start testing immediately. Read: How to do End-to-end Testing with testRigor.
  • Free from programming languages: While using testRigor, we don’t have to worry about knowing any programming languages. Yes, testRigor helps create end-to-end test scripts in parsed plain English. This advantage helps manual testers immensely, which is why it is an automation testing tool for manual testers. They can create and execute test scripts three times faster than other tools. Also, any stakeholder can add or update natural language test scripts, which are easy to read and understand.
  • Compliance: testRigor is SOC2 and HIPAA compliant and supports FDA 21 CFR Part 11 reporting. So you can very well trust testRigor and leave the worry aside about security concerns and data breach issues.
  • Scalability: testRigor supports the simultaneous execution of test scripts in multiple browsers and devices for different sessions. Know about Cross-platform Testing: Web and Mobile in One Test. Also, testRigor has its device cloud, where we can execute test cases on physical devices connected to the cloud. We don’t need to depend on any third-party cloud providers.
  • Integrations: testRigor offers built-in integrations with popular CI/CD tools like Jenkins and CircleCI, test management systems like Zephyr and TestRail, defect tracking solutions like Jira and Pivotal Tracker, infrastructure providers like AWS and Azure, and communication tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams. So, there is no need to worry about manually adding third-party integration packages.
  • One Tool For All Testing Types: testRigor performs more than just web automation. It can be used for:

Conclusion

Blockchain is an open, transparent, and secure record-keeping system. Though it started out as a way to manage digital currencies, it’s also being used for other things, like tracking who owns what in a supply chain, voting in elections, and much more. By having a good QA process in place, you can ensure that your blockchain application is functioning as expected.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you test a smart contract?

You can test a smart contract in the following way:

  • Unit testing: Test individual functions within the contract.
  • Integration testing: Ensure the contract interacts correctly with other contracts and the blockchain environment.
  • Security testing: Check for vulnerabilities like reentrancy attacks, overflow bugs, and improper access control.
  • Functional testing: Verify that the contract meets the specified requirements and behaves as expected under various conditions.

What challenges are involved in blockchain testing?

The challenges you’ll see in blockchain testing are:

  • Complexity of blockchain networks: Understanding and simulating the decentralized environment and consensus mechanisms.
  • Interoperability: Testing how well the blockchain integrates with existing systems and other blockchains.
  • Dynamic nature: Keeping up with rapid changes and updates in blockchain technology and protocols.
  • Scalability testing: Ensuring the blockchain can handle a large number of transactions as it grows.

Can you automate blockchain testing?

Yes, many aspects of blockchain testing, particularly unit testing and regression testing, can be automated. Automation tools can simulate various network conditions, perform repeated transactions, and check for performance and security issues across updates. Though there aren’t many tools to automate blockchain testing, you can still achieve a well-rounded assessment of your blockchain application with the tips mentioned in this post.

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