The Case for Solidity-Only Testing in Smart Contract Development

Posted on Mon 09 October 2023 in tech

The Case for Solidity-Only Testing in Smart Contract Development

If you're diving into the world of Solidity and smart contracts, you may have wrestled with the question: should I develop and test my project entirely in Solidity? For those unfamiliar with the debate, the alternative is often testing using TypeScript. This might sound bizarre to traditional software developers, but it was not possible to test in Solidity in the early days of Ethereum. With modern toolchain and capabilities, I firmly believe that Solidity-only testing is the way forward.

Why Solidity-Only Testing?

10. Community Support: When you're developing and testing in Solidity, you have the entire Solidity community to lean on. With public repositories, there's a massive scope for feedback and assistance.

9. Refactoring Benefits: The unit tests in Solidity will ensure that you're calling the correct API in your target code. If you're testing in another language, mismatches could lead to significant bugs.

8. Test Execution Performance: A high-performance test framework in Solidity will always be quicker and more efficient than an indirect service booting up in another language.

7. Documentation: Solidity-based testing can serve as documentation. It provides a clearer understanding of how a contract should work, from changing ownership to understanding potential pitfalls.

6. Consistency: Code style consistency across a project is crucial. Mixing two languages leads to inconsistency and can hint at a developer's unfamiliarity with the primary language.

5. Debugging: Debugging is significantly easier when working in a single language. This includes both interactive debugging and other strategies like 'printf' debugging.

4. Security: Testing in Solidity provides a clearer understanding of the security implications and challenges related to your contract. Certain types of tests, such as fuzzing or time-based tests, are better suited to Solidity.

3. Code Reuse: One of the fundamental reasons for program modularity is reuse. Testing in Solidity ensures that the same module is used consistently across the board.

2. Seamless Integration: Why introduce multiple compilers or runtime environments when one can handle everything? By keeping everything within Solidity, you maintain a tighter, more efficient development environment.

1. Developer Familiarity: Lastly, the most obvious point – if you're developing a project in Solidity, then testing within the same environment strengthens your proficiency and understanding of that environment.

A Real-World Analogy

Imagine walking into a corporate developer team meeting and proposing a new project. You say, "We're going to build this application in Python, but all our unit tests will be in TypeScript." It's likely you'd face confused stares or outright disbelief. In the traditional development world, this approach sounds ludicrous. Yet, this has been the situation with Solidity and smart contract development.

The Journey Ahead

Blockchain development is still a relatively young field, with best practices and norms still in flux. For many developers, TypeScript might feel like a comfortable and familiar tool. But as we delve deeper into the world of smart contracts, it's crucial to evolve our methodologies.

For those embarking on new Solidity projects or perhaps revisiting older ones, consider the benefits of Solidity-only testing. It offers a cohesive, consistent, and efficient approach that aligns with the nature of smart contract development.

Remember, the best tool for a job is often the one designed explicitly for it. And in the case of Solidity development, that tool is – unsurprisingly – Solidity itself.