Blockchain development and the importance of QA

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Blockchain has surely made an impression in the IT world since its inception more than a decade ago. That’s because the idea of a decentralized, distributed, and public ledger has the potential to radically change any supply chain of data and numbers and impact on the way people use and understand them. Yet, for all of its possibilities, there are several challenges that are keeping blockchain from gaining widespread approval.

Perhaps one of the biggest is the one related to security. Since blockchain typically uses a peer-to-peer network, all the blocks that are added need to be perfectly secure to ensure the safety of the entire network. However, developers working on blockchain platforms, applications or blockchain-based services are ignoring the help that QA teams or QA outsourcing companies can bring to their developments.

The results of that attitude are there for all to see. Over a billion dollars worth of cryptocurrency were lost last year alone because of bad coding in the building blocks of the network. A novice Ethereum developer caused the notorious Parity bug, which resulted in more than $150 million in losses. Not even Bitcoin, arguably blockchain’s most popular application, has saved itself from attacks.

These are but a few examples of how the lack of proper QA testing services in blockchain development is hurting the technology’s reputation and preventing its growth. And though those very same examples should be enough to understand the importance of software QA testers in blockchain development, there are several things that can further illustrate it.

Blockchain development and its relationship with security

Blockchain is a type of distributed ledger technology with an open database that records transactions between parties in a verifiable way. Those transactions are shipped in cryptographically signed blocks that can’t be altered and that end up forming a chain. Since blockchain is a decentralized network, no one has authority over it, since there’s not a central figure that can exert that control.

Such features turn blockchain into the perfect technology to track assets and share data in an efficient way. That’s the reason why the finance, healthcare, and retail industries are following its development with expectation – because they expect for blockchain to be the best solution to manage the huge amount of sensitive data they use on an everyday basis.

But what’s the reason why most companies from those industries are jumping on board en masse? Because the technology in itself hasn’t resolved its security issues in a satisfying manner. And since there’s not a central authority in the subject that can foster the needed changes to blockchain development (and blockchain engineers are a rare breed), the security challenge remains unresolved.

That’s why each individual actor working in their own blockchain application or platform need to play their part and bring the most robust and bug-free product possible to add to the chain. That’s because blockchains are immutable ledgers, which means that any bugs found within them is almost impossible to fix (as it would need for all the chain’s decentralized nodes to patch their part for it to effectively work).

That’s the perfect context for a software QA company to make its contribution. Why? Because it makes sure that the blockchain is the safest version possible before launch.

How QA testing services can help

Quality Assurance is a comprehensive activity that takes place in the entire development process looking for efficient processes to create the safest product possible, QA services can safeguard the whole chain before its release. There are several ways they can do that, including:

  • Identifying functional components and creating test plans: a QA team can detect the basic features that make up the blockchain and design test cases that can be used once the system is created
  • Setting up the initial Test Automation Framework: understanding the interfaces that will be accessed will lead to the definition of the tools and languages needed to support those interfaces.
  • Defining and implementing the Continuous Integration system: using a CI system is key to complex development, especially one as complicated as blockchain’s. By using CI, all the changes from all members will be integrated into a shared version of the code which, in turn, can trigger scheduled tasks, such as executing tests.
  • Testing performance and load: the QA team can identify the metrics related to the blockchain’s performance and select the tools that will be used to measure and gather the resulting data.

The combined action of all these aspects by the software QA company will ensure a richer security level for the final chain. All of these would trigger tests for a wide array of aspects of the product, from functional and performance tests to API and programming interfaces tests.  Additionally, the software QA testers will keep an eye on the chain’s nodes with node and shared ledger testing to ensure that all components are operating effortlessly with one another.

This doesn’t mean that the QA work will end there. As blockchain development continues to grow and evolve, all involved engineers will have to follow suit and face the new challenges that might arise. That in itself is a challenge, given the scarce blockchain talent available. Fortunately, the possibility to employ software testing outsourcing companies provides access to a wider talent pool that can cement a more secure path to blockchains growth.

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