We’ve been hard at work this week, as we head towards the hard fork, still on track for the end of this month. The main event this week has been the creation of a newly spun testnet, built on the public mainnet candidate.
You may recall that we’ve already successfully tested the hard-fork combinator, a little piece of blockchain wizardry created to achieve a smooth and orderly transition from Bryon to Shelley. That was within an internal IOHK lab environment. This week, we have for the first time run the full process ‘in the field’!
So we have effectively recreated the steps that we’ll go through later in July to activate Shelley functionality on the mainnet. A ‘dress rehearsal’, if you like. And so far, it’s looking good.
At the time of writing, we’re just finishing off some final QA on the 1.15 node CLI, bringing some additional functionality for our community of pioneers to test. As soon as we’re happy with this, we’ll deploy to the new testnet and invite an initial group of pioneer testers to join and try it out before opening it up more widely.
A few things are different from the previous testnet. That relied wholly on testers drawing test ada from the faucet. For this testnet, we took a UTXO snapshot of current mainnet balances and ‘converted’ these into an equivalent distribution of tADA. This has no real-world value, but going through this process helps us ensure all balances will be captured and displayed correctly come the real thing. It also makes for a more ‘realistic’ simulation for our pioneer testers’ own wallets.
Of course, on mainnet, the whole blockchain history will be transferred over, not just a ‘moment in time’ snapshot, but this is a good test for now.
Any rewards earned on the ITN will also have been reflected in balances, another important test prior to mainnet. As a reminder, these rewards will be claimable after the hard fork. Please note that any ada being stored on an exchange or in a hardware wallet at the time of the snapshot, won’t have been captured.
Effectively, the hard fork combinator process is a little like merging lanes of traffic. We’ve been working within a solely Shelley ‘traffic lane’ on the Shelley testnet till now. But of course, on mainnet, there’ll also be significant amounts of historic Byron ‘traffic’ in the system (historic transactions and addresses) that will need to be merged in. So this new testnet is a very close simulation/simulacrum of where we’ll be come end/July and early August, that blend of the ‘old’ Byron-based network and the new Shelley node.
Initially, pioneers will have to access this testnet functionality through a command-line interface (CLI). A new Daedelus is incoming next week – the team is currently working on compatibility between Byron and Shelley era addresses and transactions. Once done we’ll get a new Daedalus wallet out and every ada holder will be free to have a play. To reiterate, there are no real ada rewards on this Shelley testnet. But we hope you enjoy trying out the closest we have yet come to offering the full ‘Shelley’ experience.
Getting exchanges upgraded
This next phase of the testnet program is particularly important for our exchange partners, too. They will also need to use this new testnet too as part of their upgrades to support the hard fork. The old SL system will be switched off early next week, as the first of two phases of the Shelley exchange migration. We have a dedicated team working with exchanges to ensure they are ‘Shelley-ready’. Any exchange that does not upgrade in time risks temporarily locking any customers’ ada on the exchange until they do apply the upgrade. So we are working hard to ensure our partners are upgrading and therefore minimise any potential downtime or disruption during this process. But ultimately, it is the exchange who needs to deploy this upgrade. If you do experience any issues accessing your exchange ada during the next few days, please contact your exchange first, then IOHK’s technical support desk so they can help with any additional support/information your exchange might still need.
As we home in on the full mainnet experience, we will be releasing new versions of Daedalus on a regular basis via the Cardano testnets site. You’ll need to update your Daedalus wallet(s) as necessary to engage with the testnets, and experience all the new Shelley features for yourself. Please keep an eye out for new developments via IOHK’s Twitter – we’ll let you know as soon as new Daedalus wallets are available. There’ll be a few more coming. Try them out, and let us know about any improvements that we could make. We have already incorporated a lot of feedback and hope you like the experience. But it’s always good to receive more, so we can make the Shelley staking experience as good as it can be!