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If I test on the alphanet and everything works correctly, can I then safely assume that the same code / process will also work on the mainnet?

The current Tezos protocol amendment voting process is now at the third stage but once the next stage (final stage) is finished how long before the new protocol changes are implemented on the alphanet? - that is if the Promotion voting stage is successful.

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The general answer to the first question is: "Yes, that's the purpose of Alphanet!" then the devil lives in the details.

  • Some constants are different (number of blocks per cycle, time between blocks, length of voting period, ...) between alphanet and mainnet so you mustn't hard wire them. Instead, you should ask them to the node (through RPC) if you need them.

  • The activity and the age (therefore the size) of the chains differ also so the efficiency of some operation might also differ.

So it doesn't exonerate you to think but yes the general idea is and remains far close as possible: Alphanet is Mainnet with free tokens.

For the second more specific question: there are 2 alternatives:

  • The marvelous: Someone (why not you!) submits the protocol Athens on Alphanet and makes enough noise around it so that Alphanet participants vote for it, the quorum is reached on each phase (Beware, voting periods are much faster Alphanet: 8192 blocks so 2 days 20 hours 16 minutes if everybody bake) and Alphanet migrates to Athens in the exact way Mainnet may!

  • The ugly : Mainnet migrates to Athens but no way to involve enough of the community of Alphanet participants in a vote on Alphanet. Because Alphanet has to reflect Mainnet, soon after Mainnet migration, Alphanet would be "hard reseted" to a new chain running Athens. Let's try make that not happen ;-)

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    I personally do not mind the hard resetting of the Alphanet, if it means that it is running the same protocol as the Mainnet. I do not care about my test data as it can always be reproduced easily - automated unit tests. It is more important to me that the Alphanet is as close as possible to the Mainnet. Apr 26 '19 at 22:24

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