Blockchain technology revolutionizes how we interact, transact, and collaborate in various domains. However, developing and deploying blockchain applications is a challenging task. It requires careful testing, debugging, and optimization to ensure security, scalability, and usability. This is where testnets come in handy.
A testnet replicates the mainnet, the live network, where the actual transactions occur. A testnet allows developers and other users to experiment with trialing new features without risking real funds or compromising the mainnet's performance. A testnet also enables users to provide feedback, report bugs, and suggest improvements before launching new features on the mainnet.
Our solution to enhance the stability, capabilities, and performance of Project Catalyst is to simultaneously operate multiple testnet instances of Project Catalyst along with the mainnet, and we are in the first stages of release. You can access the testnet via the following URL: https://app.testnet.projectcatalyst.io.
This blog will review the testnet, why we believe it to be essential to Project Catalyst, and how to be informed when further documentation on accessing and using the Catalyst testnet is released.
Project Catalyst: Cardano’s innovation engine
Project Catalyst is Cardano’s innovation engine and one of the world's largest decentralized grant funds. Catalyst supports ecosystem growth and innovation by providing a dynamic and effective environment where the Cardano community can explore the highest potential of human collaboration and impact, inclusive of all ada holders and other actors within the Cardano ecosystem. All funding cycles so far have leveraged the Cardano treasury to realize the idea of decentralized innovation management and distributed decision-making.
Since its inception, Catalyst has grown from a series of experiments in social dynamics, incentivization, and collaboration, to becoming a core pillar of grassroots innovation and growth for the benefit of the Cardano ecosystem.
Now Catalyst needs to mature and take the next step in its evolution amid the backdrop of Cardano's governance with the age of Voltaire. Much debate has occurred behind the scenes about how Project Catalyst can sustainably support itself and its roadmap to continue providing a valuable service to the Cardano community.
Project Catalyst is currently running Fund10, with a total of ₳50,000,000 available for funding. The number of proposals, voters, and participants has grown exponentially since Fund1 launched as a pilot experiment in 2020.
Over the last nine funds, Catalyst has proposed experimental features. Some enhancements worked as intended, while others needed refinement to deliver the community's desired functionality. This is the nature of experimentation and forging innovative new paths. As Project Catalyst scales up, it faces new challenges and opportunities that require more testing and experimentation. However, among the highest priorities is acknowledging that the community needs the facility and tools to continue experimenting with new features without the potential to disrupt a live Catalyst funding round that implements untested or unproven features.
Full testnet for Project Catalyst
Our solution to enhance stability, capabilities, and performance is to simultaneously operate multiple testnet instances of Project Catalyst along with the mainnet. Two of these deployments use the Cardano Preprod testnet as their source for registration data. We call these our Preprod and experimental Testnet deployments. Preprod is a common term used in systems architecture and means the system before the production system. It runs the code and databases that are or are about to be deployed to production and is considered very stable.
The Catalyst Testnet operates the latest code base and may only sometimes be functional due to the experimental nature of the systems it is running. Together we call these our “Catalyst Testnets.” These operate concurrently with the Production Catalyst deployment system, which interfaces with the Cardano mainnet as its source for registration data.
We are in the first stages of rolling out the Catalyst TestNET, which you can access here.
The first iteration will run alongside fund10 live at a timeline ratio of 1:1. Future updates will bring enhanced accelerated funding cycles that enable developers to test accelerated funding rounds (instead of a voting event taking four months, we can compress the fund cycle to about two weeks) without interfering with the live funding round on the Production deployment system.
This would have several advantages:
- Features only get moved to production after the community has had reasonable time to review and test them.
- The production environment is stable and can be operated on a regular and reliable cadence without significant risk of breakage between funds. No new features appear in the fund cycle at controlled and scheduled moments, allowing everyone to know exactly how the fund will operate and what software will be operated.
- The Pre-Production environment allows numerous public dry runs of all funds so the community can have confidence in the next production fund's software.
- New and experienced users can test all Project Catalyst features safely and openly.
- System integrators and wallet providers have known and reliable test targets to develop against.
- An unstable testnet lets systems integrators and the community experiment with and provide early feedback on features or systems still in development, improving and accelerating the feedback loop.
Experimental features can be refined in the open and with community collaboration to get the best possible result when finally deployed, with ZERO impact on funding operations or production reliability.
The benefits of running a full testnet for Project Catalyst
Running a full testnet concurrently with the mainnet would benefit Project Catalyst's developers, proposers, voters, and users, providing them with the following:
Boosts Live Funding Efficiency - Testing can happen while a funding round is live, so developers can identify and fix issues faster, optimize processes and protocols, and prepare more efficiently for the next funding round.
Running accelerated funding timelines - The testnet can run faster than the mainnet, compressing all phases of a funding round into just a few weeks instead of months. This would allow developers to test more scenarios, iterate more quickly, and learn from feedback more effectively.
Testing novel ideas - The testnet can run experiments considered too risky or complex to run on the mainnet, such as new voting mechanisms, incentive schemes, collaboration tools, etc. This would increase the chances of discovering breakthrough solutions to improve Project Catalyst's outcomes and impact.
More opportunities to participate - The Preprod network allows new and experienced Catalyst voters to play with the system safely without risk for their mainnet registration or ada. Preprod uses ada distributed from the Preprod faucet and has no intrinsic value. This allows new community members to experience Project Catalyst before they stake any ada. The aim is to make the system more approachable and easier to learn and understand. The desired result is that it assists with onboarding people to both Project Catalyst and the broader Cardano ecosystem.
More fun to participate - Proposers can experiment with more creative and diverse ideas on the testnet, increasing their enjoyment and motivation. Voters can experiment with more dynamic and interactive voting mechanisms on the testnet, increasing their engagement and excitement. Users can experiment with more advanced and user-friendly features on the testnet, increasing their delight and retention.
Running a full Catalyst testnet concurrently with the mainnet iteration of the Fund is a promising idea that could enhance Project Catalyst's capabilities, performance, and community experience and satisfaction. A full testnet would enable experimentation and learning, leading to more innovation, participation, and engagement. Such a system also aligns with Cardano's vision and values of being a platform that is constantly evolving, improving, and delivering value to its users and stakeholders.
How to get involved?
You can also visit the official website to check out some of the previous funding results to see some of the fantastic projects that have been funded by Project Catalyst so far.