Chidume Nnamdi I'm a software engineer with over six years of experience. I've worked with different stacks, including WAMP, MERN, and MEAN. My language of choice is JavaScript; frameworks are Angular and Node.js.

Top 4 Ethereum testnets for testing smart contracts

5 min read 1522

Ethereum Logo

Ethereum is one of the most popular blockchains in the world. Its popularity is due to its scalability and ability to handle a large number of transactions. However, it is also a very expensive blockchain.

Because Ethereum has protocol features that must be followed, it can be mocked up to be used in a testnet.

In this tutorial, we’ll compare four of the top Ethereum testnets. We’ll cover the following:

We’ll review the key features of each testnet and compare them based on their faucets, Eth clients, and consensus protocol. By the end of this guide, you’ll know the various consensus protocols each testnet uses, how to get free Eth for testing, and the Eth client used to connect to each testnet network.

What is a testnet?

An Ethereum testnet is a collection of nodes that are used to test the Ethereum protocol. Tests are run on the testnets to ensure that the protocol is working as expected.

Testnets are like mocks in that they are used to test the protocol in a controlled environment. Just like we write tests in a unit test, we write smart contracts and test them in a testnet.

Writing smart contracts and deploying them on the mainnet is a much more expensive operation than writing tests and deploying them on the testnet. This is because we have to pay gas fees before we can deploy our smart contracts on the mainnet, and these gas fees cost real money.

Obviously, you don’t want to spend real money when you’re just testing your smart contracts. That’s where testnets come in. Testnets provide free cryptocurrency you can use to pay for gas fees. Since this free cryptocurrency has no value, we can’t use it in the mainnet.

To put it simply, you should test your smart contracts on a testnet before deploying them on the mainnet.

Rinkeby

Rinkeby is an Ethereum testnet that is used to test the Ethereum protocol. It is a fork of the Ethereum mainnet. Rinkeby enables you to develop your DApps in a test environment before deploying to the real Ethereum mainnet.

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Rinkeby was built in April 2017 by the Ethereum Foundation and is maintained by the Geth developer team. It uses the proof-of-authority consensus mechanism.

Loading the Rinkeby site at rinkeby.io will show you the Rinkeby network. Rinkeby displays the network stats, including the number of nodes, transactions, and blocks. In addition, it shows the number of transactions per second, the number of blocks per second, and the number of peers, which is the number of nodes that are connected to Rinkeby.

Rinkeby Dashboard

The Rinkeby site has a block explorer that will show you the blockchain in a readable format:

Testnet Explorer

To write a smart contract and deploy it on the Rinkeby testnet, the first step is to install the MetaMask extension on your desktop browser.

First, go to the Chrome store and search for MetaMask. Click on the MetaMask extension and install it.

After the installation, go to the Chrome menu and click the Add-ons button. Then, click Extensions and then MetaMask.

MetaMask will pop up and prompt you to sign in. If you don’t have an account, you can create one by clicking the Create account button. After that, you can sign in to MetaMask.

Ropsten Test Networks

As you can see, there are several testnets to choose from, including Ethereum Mainnet, Rinkeby Test Network, Kovan Test Network, Ropsten Test Network, and Goerli Test Network. Localhost:8545 is an Ethereum node running locally on your machine.

Select the Rinkeby Test Network:

Select Rinkeby Test Network

As you can see, we have 0 Eth.

First, we have to copy our Ethereum address. To do that, click the Copy icon to copy your Ethereum address.

Let’s see how we can get free Eth on the Rinkeby network. The official faucet is located here. Paste your Rinkeby testnet address and get free Eth.

There are also third-party sites that provide free Eth on the Rinkeby network, such as the Rinkeby Ether Faucet. Simply paste in your Ethereum address in the My Address field and click Submit to get a free Eth.

You can use the faucet found here if the above faucets don’t work.

Authority Faucet Eth client
Proof of authority https://faucet.rinkeby.io/ Geth

It is quite difficult to get free Eths on the Rinkeby faucet. It involves publishing a social media post for Rinkeby and waiting eight hours to earn 3Eth, one day to get 7.5 Eth, and three days to get 18.5 Eth. Thats a long time to to wait.

Rinkeby uses only the Geth client to make transactions on the network. This forces you to switch to the Geth client when making transactions on the Rinkeby network. This is another huge setback.

One key advantage is that Rinkeby uses proof of authority, which is quickly gaining adoption in the blockchain world.

Kovan

Kovan is another testnet that is used to test the Ethereum protocol. Like Rinkeby, Kovan is a fork of the mainnet.

Kovan was built in June 2017 by the Ethereum Foundation and, also like Rinkeby, is maintained by the Geth developer team. It uses the proof of authority consensus mechanism as well.

In general, Kovan supports the same features as Rinkeby. You can also use the official faucet to get free Eth on this Kovan testnet.

You can write ERC-20, ERC-721, and ERC-1155 tokens on the Kovan testnet. It shows the latest blocks, the latest transactions, and ERC-20, -721,- and 1155 tokens. You can also search addresses, transactions, blocks, etc.

Kovan Testnet Explorer

The free Ether we get in Kovan is called Kovan Ether (kEth). To get a free kEth in Kovan, you can use the official faucet. You can instantly get one KEth per 24 hours per GitHub account. You can also get free kEth in the Kovan Gitter chat room.

Kovan Gitter Chat Room

To get free kEth, join the chat room and paste your Kovan testnet address.

Testnet Address

Now we have our free Eth!

Free Eth

Kovan Test Network

Authority Faucet Eth client
Proof of authority https://faucet.kovan.network/, https://gitter.im/kovan-testnet/faucet# Parity

Kovan uses the proof of authority consensus mechanism, unlike Ethereum, which uses the proof of stake consensus. This makes the Kovan testnet a bit different from the Ethereum mainnet it represents.

Getting free Eths on Kovan is relatively easy compared to other testnets. All you have to do is send your Eth address to the Kovan Gitter channel.

Ropsten

Ropsten was created in August 2017 by the Ethereum Foundation and, like many popular Ethereum testnets, is maintained by the Geth developer team. It uses the proof-of-authority consensus mechanism.

The Ropsten site, just like the Kovan test network site, shows the latest blocks and latest transactions. You can also view ERC-20, -721, and -1155 tokens as well as search addresses, transactions, blocks, etc.

Ropsten Testnet Explorer

To get free Eth on the Ropsten testnet, we can use the official faucet.

Ropsten Eth Faucet

Just paste your Eth address and click Send me test Ether to get a free 0.3 Eth.

The Ropsten test network is considered to be the test network that is most closely related to the Ethereum Mainnet. The consensus mechanism is proof of work.

In February 2017, Ropsten was attacked and brought to a halt. The attacker raised the gas limit to 200m and the mining reward went up to 12 Eth. The attack was stopped and the Ropsten test network was restored in August 2017.

Authority Faucet Eth client
Proof of work https://faucet.ropsten.be/ Geth, Parity

The advantage of using Ropsten compared to other testnets is that it is the testnet that most faithfully emulates the Ethereum mainnet. Its consensus algorithm is same as the Ethereum mainnet, which makes it a great choice for Ethereum developers.

In addition, getting free Eths on Ropsten is easier than on other testnets. All you have to do is paste your Eth address on the faucet link to get 0.3 Eth in ~5 minutes. Also, Ropsten supports Geth and Parity clients, which makes it highly comaptible compared to other testnets.

Goerli

Goerli was created in November 2018 by the Parity team. Like many of the testnets described above, it uses the proof of authority consensus mechanism.

The Goerli website displays the latest blocks and transactions, as well as ERC-20, -721, and -1155 tokens. Like the other testnets we’ve evaluiated, you can search addresses, transactions, blocks, etc., using Goerli.

Information about the most current releases of the Goerli testnet is available on GitHub.

You can sed free Eth to your Ethereum address in the Goerli testnet using the official Goerli Testnet Faucet. Simply paste your Ethereum address and press the REQUEST 0.05 GÖETH button to receive 0.05 GÖETH.

Authority Faucet Eth client
Proof of Authority https://goerli.etherscan.io/ Geth, Parity (Goerli supports many Eth client)

Conclusion

In this guide, we demonstrated how to get free Eth on the Rinkeby, Kovan, Ropsten, and Goerli Ethereum testnets. We also walked through how toget free Eth on these testnets using their respective faucets.

We started by introducing the concept of a testnet in the Ethereum network. From there, we delved into four popular Ethereum testnets, analyzed each, and pointed out their network sites, consensus mechanism, and faucets.

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Chidume Nnamdi I'm a software engineer with over six years of experience. I've worked with different stacks, including WAMP, MERN, and MEAN. My language of choice is JavaScript; frameworks are Angular and Node.js.

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