Testnet Alpha vs Testnet Beta: What’s the Difference?

5ireChain
4 min readFeb 3, 2023

Software applications usually undergo different testing phases. The aim of testnets is to ascertain whether an application has produced the desired or expected output. If it passes quality assurance, the software is deployed for general use. Otherwise, it is recalled.

While there are several testing techniques, some are considered the most essential. This article examines Alpha and Beta testing as the two most critical and frequently used testing methodologies while identifying their differences.

What is Testnet?

According to w3schools, testnet involves checking if the tangible result or output of a product matches with the projected or expected output (of your client), and testing also ensures that the product is free from any bug or defect. Testing enables software or blockchain developers to easily identify errors and gaps in the codebase that may threaten an application’s seamless usage.

Unidentified bugs often lead to precarious situations such as losing lives, jobs and even monetary losses. For example, in 1994, An Airlines’ Airbus of China crashed due to a bug, leading to the mass killing of 264 innocent lives. In another instance, Starbucks suffered a POS system-software failure in 2015, forcing them to close around 60% of its stores in the US and Canada. These are only a few far-reaching effects of software bugs, which reiterate the importance of testing.

Who does Testnet?

Testing is usually done by a wide range of participants. However, the aim is usually the same regardless of the number of testnets – making the application or blockchain tamper-proof.

Regarding new blockchain networks, developers stress test either by running proof-of-work or proof-of-stake nodes on it, depending on the consensus mechanism adopted. A specific number of internal developers are given Alpha access. At the beta stage, end users or external parties are granted access to test the network.

What is Alpha Testnet?

Alpha testnet is a user acceptance testnet usually performed by in-house software testers. While sometimes, it can be done by potential users given privileged access, the purpose is often the same – confirming that a product fulfills all the prerequisites by checking for potential issues and bugs before introducing the final product or mainnet to end users.

Alpha testnet precedes Beta testnet even though it is one of the final testnet phases. Product developers perform alpha testnet at the end of the software development process. At this stage, they view the product features from an end-user standpoint, and if necessary, slight changes are made to the product’s design. Blockchain developers carry out the testing process on a test network or environment.

What is Beta Testnet?

Beta testnet usually involves end-users themselves, performing various test activities in a real environment. Activities during the beta testnet are regarded as a form of external user acceptance testing. User feedback is the end goal of beta testnet – the development team curates feedback from users on the product’s quality, which becomes the basis for implementing any changes within the product. Beta testnet precedes the shipping of the product or mainnet launch, whatever the case may be.

During Beta testing, the development team grants access to the beta version of the software to selected end users (not all potential users can participate). End users may be selected from an application list. At the end of the beta testnet, feedback from users helps the development team identify likely risks that may contribute to the product’s failure. Thus, the team can improve the product’s quality through suggestions from users.

Differences Between Alpha and Beta Testnet

There are several differences between the two testnet stages. However, this article identifies only a few of them.

Alpha testnet is performed by internal testers, who are members of the development team. Meanwhile, Beta testnet involves the participation of clients or potential end users. However, both tests seek to achieve the same goal.

Beta testnet often involves testing activities such as reliability, security, and robustness. These checks are done in anticipation of the number of users that may flood the product at launch. As such, an oversight of them may lead to inestimable losses. Blockchain protocols are known to perform these checks to prove quality assurance. On the other hand, these checks are not done during Alpha testnet.

Alpha testnet is driven at ensuring the quality of the product before moving to Beta testnet.

Meanwhile, Beta testnet also concentrates on the quality of the product but gathers users’ input on the product and ensures that the product is ready for real-time users.

Critical issues or fixes can be addressed by developers immediately in Alpha testing. But most of the issues or feedback collected from Beta testing are implemented in future versions of the product.

Final Thoughts

Testnets are essential during software development, including blockchain protocols. Despite the differences between Alpha and Beta testnets, each is relevant in software development. While Alpha testnet simulates the real-time user environment, beta testnet provides authentic feedback for real users. However, Beta testnet carries more importance because if the end users fail to use the product, anything else is irrelevant.

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