A testnet or testing network is a term for the development of a blockchain network.
This construct allows for the testing of experimental features and do test versions of apps without using real money.
A testnet is best conceptualized as an alternative network to existing ones such as Bitocin, Ethereum, etc.
As its name suggests, this is merely relegated to an experimental application, devoid of actual monetization.
Testnets are very important in ensuring the eventual smoothness and optimization of a network.
As a purely experimental initiative, testnet coins are separate and distinct from actual coins, nor are they expected to carry any value.
What Role Do Testnets Play?
Testnets allow application developers or bitcoin testers free reign to experiment, without being encumbered by real cryptocurrencies.
Moreover, by operating in an experimental space, there is no need for concern about breaking the main Bitcoin or Ethereum chain for example.
Testnets help provide a sandbox environment to imitate how an application will work in the real world or mainnet.
A mainnnet is a term to describe the primary blockchain network that a cryptocurrency project will operate.
The mainnet reflects the final product or stage of a cryptocurrency project that can be accessed and used by the general public.
Different parameters can exist on a testnet as well.
For example, on testnets that run on Proof-of-Work algorithms (PoW), mining difficulty is lower in order to allow normal computers to mine coins without using large amounts of electricity.
Testnets may also be referred to as Morden, Görli, Kovan, Rinkerby. Several of these were used in the development of the Ethereum network and have since been phased out.