The SMT testnet has been announced and is live and I highly recommend you read the introduction post.
While the testnet for SMTs is here, there is no release date on record for SMTs. This is going to be a big hard fork and a major paradigm shift for Steem. It is critical we get this right and avoid unnecessary downtime and problems.
The first step in testing SMTs is having witnesses signing blocks on the testnet. This will help find any issues in the consensus code base. I say help as you could test for years and a bug can crop up you never came across.
A good example of this is
sudo, it is a core 'nix command for privilege escalation since 1980. It was recently discovered there is a flaw in the
sudo command that can allow anyone to run commands as root in certain situations. This bug has been around for 39 years and has only recently been discovered. The potential damage this flaw can do is catastrophic to the security of the Internet. Yet it has been there for 39 years undiscovered in one of the most popular software packages in the world.
That being said, it is still important to do as much testing as possible to minimize running into issues when the hard fork is executed.
There are currently three active witnesses on the testnet and a few witnesses who are not currently signing blocks.
Active Witnesses on Testnet
Inactive Witnesses on Testnet
While I have no idea why the witnesses are inactive, all I can say is they are not signing blocks and no version for their node has been announced as they haven't signed their initial block on the testnet.
If you are interested in setting up a witness on the testnet to help test SMTs, the branch master has all the testnet code in it.
You can see the current witnesses on testnet here.
You can test basic functionality using the testnet condenser instance: https://condensertestnet.steemitdev.com/
There is also a testnet steemd.com instance available at https://testnet.steemd.com.
"THIS CONDENSER IS RUNNING ON A TESTNET. NOTHING YOU DO HERE IS REAL."
When you see the ugly orange color, you know you are on the testnet.
As of right now, there is no documentation or support for the new SMT ops and API calls. Without digging through the source code, there is no way to currently test this functionality. When this becomes possible, we will need to conduct as much testing as possible to eliminate issues upon release.
Once Steemit starts to create SMTs on the testnet and releases documentation and API functionality it will need to be tested as well.
This is a major release for Steem and the need for testing is very high. If there is anything you can do to help test this potential hard fork, it would be greatly appreciated by the entire community.