In this article you will learn what blockchain technology is, what is blockchain testing, what it is used for and what types of blockchain testing we know.

What is Blockchain technology?

Blockchain is a technology that enables secure and transparent data sharing. It is based on a decentralised network of computers that maintain a common database. This database is protected by cryptography, which makes it impossible to do unauthorised tampering.

Blockchain is customized to record information that makes it impossible for hackers to attack or alter data. It is Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) that facilitates the recording of transactions and the tracking of assets on the network.

A blockchain consists of records or blocks linked by cryptography. Each record contains a cryptographic hash along with the timestamp and transaction data of the previous block. Since each block contains data from the last block, they form a block chain and make transactions irreversible.

Blockchain can be created in four ways: public, private, permissioned or consortial.

  • Public blockchain network: Anyone can join and participate in the public blockchain network, i.e., anyone can read, write, and modify ongoing activities, making it decentralized and self-governing. However, in a public blockchain network, there is little or no transaction privacy and weak security, which should be considered before considering it for your business.
  • Private blockchain network: This is a partially decentralized network managed by a single organization controlling the participation, execution, and maintenance of the blockchain.
  • Enabled blockchain network: This is a hybrid of a public and private blockchain network, as it allows anyone to access the network as long as they have gone through the authentication process.
  • Consortial blockchain: It is a private group of blockchains where each blockchain is managed by individual organizations that come together to share information for better transparency, accountability and workflows. Several organisations will have access and authority over the network. It is a fully decentralised system.

On what principle does blockchain work?

Illustration of the blockchain principle

QA – Blockchain testing

Testing applications based on blockchain technology comes with many challenges. Of course, there is a traditional testing and validation such as functional/non-functional testing, performance testing, integration testing, etc. However, QA testers must also have specialized skills, for example having knowledge of smart contract testing, peer/node testing, having mathematical and cryptographic skills, and being proficient with some particular tools.

What is blockchain testing?

Although the unique properties of blockchain have made it popular in various industries, they also contribute to its complexity. Therefore, it becomes important to test and verify blockchain systems before deploying them in a production environment.

Blockchain testing is a systematic verification of various components of the blockchain, such as smart contracts, blocks, mining, wallets, transactions, and more. With blockchain testing, it can be ensured that each blockchain network performs as expected, is secured and verified to operate. The main goal of blockchain testing is to ensure complete test coverage in order to develop a quality blockchain solution.

However, blockchain brings extreme challenges in the world of testing. The main challenges that can be encountered during testing include:

  • understanding blockchain technology and defining testing strategies,
  • lack of standardised blockchain testing tools and best practices,
  • validation and verification of each block that is recorded in the blockchain network for each transaction,
  • preserving block and string size,
  • risks of failure when sharing cryptographic data.

Benefits of blockchain testing

Blockchain testing ensures that all entities involved in the blockchain network have been properly verified before deployment. As a result, it provides organisations with a secure and functional infrastructure.

Blockchain testing helps in delivering quality products, thereby improving user experience. It also addresses weaknesses in the decentralised system in which money is involved in order to prevent financial damage.

Types of blockchain testing

Some of the recommended methods for testing blockchain software solutions are functional testing, performance testing, security testing, node testing, and penetration testing.

  • Functional testing: it is performed to evaluate the compliance of a blockchain solution with the requirements for specific functions, as it often describes what system does. Functional testing is a part of black box testing, i.e. it only examines the functionality of the application without dealing with its inner functioning or structures. QA does not need to know the used programming language or how a given component of the blockchain system has been implemented in order to perform functional tests. Integration testing, unit testing, smoke testing and regression testing are some examples of functional testing.
  • Performance testing: ensures that the blockchain application performs accurately under the expected conditions and load. Performance testing assesses the quality and capability of a blockchain solution in terms of scalability, speed, stability and reliability in changing conditions. It aims to remove performance bottlenecks and identify areas for improvement, while making the blockchain solution fast, stable and reliable.
  • Security testing: detects and identifies security vulnerabilities in the blockchain system’s network, client-side or server-side. Its purpose is to protect the system from potential intruders by ensuring that there are no possible gaps, risks, threats or vulnerabilities in the system. Confidentiality, authenticity, authority, integrity and availability are the basic principles that are followed in security testing. Simply put, it is used to debug the system, allowing blockchain solutions to perform highly secure transactions.
  • Node testing: every diverted node available in the network should be tested independently for accurate logging and risk-free connectivity.
  • Penetration Testing: this is a simulated cyber attack on a custom blockchain system to help spot any exploitable vulnerabilities. Penetration testing consists of attempts to disrupt servers, APIs, etc. in order to expose vulnerabilities prone to code injection attacks.
  • API testing: when testing APIs, we ensure that the interaction between applications in the blockchain ecosystem is as expected.

Phases of blockchain testing

  • Initial phase

The initial phase is the first phase of testing the blockchain system. In this phase, testers are introduced to the system lifecycle through analysis and understanding of its functionality, allowing them to better understand all the components involved. A detailed map is created that contains all the components and subcomponents of the system as well as all the interfaces to get a good understanding of the overall functioning of the system.

  • Design phase

The design phase identifies the key components of the system that need to be tested and develops a detailed testing strategy customized to the blockchain system. This test strategy describes the system test cases and test environment specifications.

  • Planning phase

During this phase, it will be decided how each type of test will be performed, estimating how many tests will be performed at each level and to what extent. If a system is not available, alternative testing strategies must be suggested. Setting up a private blockchain for testing is an alternative testing strategy. API testing, functional testing, performance testing, security testing and others are examples of these tests.

  • Results phase

This is the final phase, which includes a report on the overall system testing performed. System performance, low-level checking, and validation of blocks, transactions, and smart contracts are the basic activities that must be performed during this phase.

Challenges in testing blockchain

  • Understanding the technology – Blockchain is a new technology and understanding the technology with domain knowledge is very important when testing a blockchain application.
  • Lack of blockchain testing tools- Testing blockchain-based applications is all about tools. Choosing the right tool according to the application is one of the important decisions.
  • Defining a testing strategy- As with any application, a testing strategy needs to be designed for a blockchain application. This is one of the biggest challenges because the testing strategy requires a deep knowledge and understanding of the technology and application.
  • Block and Chain Size- Along with standard testing, tools and established best practices, block and chain size testing is also important. Blockchain applications can fail without proper block and chain size verification.
  • Integration Testing – Since there are multiple components involved in a blockchain application, integration testing should be done properly and frequently to test if all components are properly integrated to avoid any failures.
  • Performance and workload – Failure to perform performance and workload testing will provide little or no insight into how a blockchain application performs in production as well as under specific workload and network conditions.
  • Security- Data security should be the most important thing in a blockchain application. Blockchain can be part of various industries such as healthcare, finance, etc. Any type of malicious attack can affect the application.

Blockchain testing tools

Below are the 6 most popular tools for testing blockchain technology:

  • Ethereum Tester

It’s an open source test library available on the GitHub repo. It is easily configurable with manageable API support for different testing requirements.

  • Ganache

It is the rather well-known Testrpc library, which is widely used for local testing of Ethereum contracts. It works by spinning up a sort of mock Blockchain that gives you access to accounts that you can use for testing.

  • Hyperledger Composer

Hyperledger Composer is an open-source tool that lets you model and test a blockchain network with a minimal set of tools like Docker and a browser. This is done through the Hyperledger Composer tool, which facilitates blockchain development through a modelling language, user interface and CLI. With this tool, we can mainly perform three types of testing: interactive testing, automated unit testing and system testing.

  • Truffle Suite

Truffle Suite is a full-stack development framework for Ethereum. It also includes tools for blockchain testing. It is one of the comprehensive packages for compiling, testing, debugging and deploying blockchain systems. The Truffle suite includes various tools namely Ganache, Drizzle, Truffle and Truffle for VSCode that facilitate the development of smart contracts.

  • BitcoinJ

It is a library for Bitcoin that offers a full verification mode, a lightweight simplified payment verification mode, a wallet class, micropayment channels, and asynchronous and thread-per-connection modes. With BitcoinJ, developers can easily develop secure and reliable applications based on contract cryptographic wallets.

  • Manticore

A symbolic execution tool that offers multiple functions such as program exploration, input generation, error detection, program interface, and instrumentation for analyzing smart contracts, modules, and binary files.

Conclusion

Blockchain technology is coming to the fore as a promising force of the future, prompting entrepreneurs to explore its potential. Nevertheless, a thorough test is essential to launch any blockchain-based solution.

As blockchain is relatively new, addressing aspects such as sourcing appropriate data, ensuring scalability, security and performance is one of the most significant challenges. Fortunately, there are useful blockchain testing tools to help QA testers solve these problems.

About the author

Michaela Kojnoková

Agile Test Engineer

Po štúdiu informatiky na ŽU a TUKE som sa najviac ponorila do oblasti automatizácie testovania. Okrem toho sa venujem tvorbe webov, databázam, dátovej analytike, umelej inteligencii a strojovému učeniu. Mám rada cestovanie, šport a najviac si užívam čas strávený v prírode s mojimi blízkymi. LinkedIn

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