Tim Beiko, an Ethereum core developer, has taken to Twitter to encourage both developers and users to help test “The Merge” prior to the anticipated event.
The Merge is when Ethereum’s proof-of-stake testnet will merge with the platform’s mainnet—a highly complex endeavour that has been many years in the making. Short of any delays, it’s expected to take place in August.
Ethereum has $70.55 billion “locked” in its thriving decentralised finance ecosystem. Needless to say, The Merge has the potential to go devastatingly wrong without robust testing.
Beiko notes that client and protocol testing teams “focus mostly on changes to the protocol not causing cross-client issues or breaking existing applications.” It’s really down to developers and users to conduct application-level testing.
The developer highlights that “99% of [The Merge] changes affect the protocol” and that “there are a lot of them”. However, there are two changes when it comes to smart contracts to be aware of:
- The DIFFICULTY opcode now returns PREVRANDAO, a larger pseudorandom value.
- Block times go from ~13 seconds to exactly 12 seconds.
Aside from those two cases and cross-client testing, Beiko says the biggest risk of disruption comes from tooling and infra pipelines.
There isn’t a specific risk here, but it’s something along the lines of “your app uses a bunch of integrations to go from the deployed code, to the chain and to the UI and *something* may break for a weird reason”.— Tim Beiko | timbeiko.eth 🔥🧱 (@TimBeiko) May 23, 2022
Two testnets – Kintsugi and Kiln – have been deployed to help catch issues. Beiko says many different types of projects were asked to do a full staging deploy using these testnets and let Ethereum’s developers know of any issues.
Ropsten will be the first testnet to really provide a chance for the community to run through a merge. If that all goes smoothly, the plan is to fork Goerli and Sepolia.
Beiko promises that if issues are found at any point then Ethereum’s developers will take the time to fix them before moving forward. Given what’s at, ahem, “stake” here, it’s worth the extra time to ensure that everything is solid.
TL;DR – #TestingTheMerge is the priority for all client (and testing!) teams. That said, client teams and the EF can’t single-handedly replace QA for all Ethereum projects, so if you are building on Ethereum, now is the time to pay attention and make sure you are ready 👀 POS 🔜.— Tim Beiko | timbeiko.eth 🔥🧱 (@TimBeiko) May 23, 2022
Last month, a SlashData survey (PDF) found that blockchain applications, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs have the highest share of developers learning about them. Ethereum remains the largest smart contract platform, despite the competition heating up.
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