How to Use Togle in a Distributed System

Togle is a cloud-based time-tracking tool that’s popular among freelancers, students, and other people who want to monitor how much time they spend on different activities. Its precise reporting capacity is one of its biggest selling points, and it also provides a variety of data visualization tools that help you see how your time goes every day.

Feature Toggles: Experimentation for Teams

Feature toggles are an excellent way to perform A/B testing or multivariate analysis of a feature by sending users down different paths. They can be used to test product flow, user interface components, or call to action wording on a button.

As a result of this experimentation, teams that use toggles are able to quickly find and fix bugs and make improvements in their products. Moreover, it can be an easy way to get buy-in for new ideas that may have been previously met with skepticism by team members.

Toggle Switches: XAML and Code

A toggle switch is a control that has a single-state on/off option. The toggle can be set up as a trigger event or handled with an event handler, as shown in the following example.

It’s best to give toggle switches labels that describe what the control does when it’s on. For instance, a toggle with a hidden state would have a label like “hidden”, while a toggle with a disabled state would have a label like “disabled”.

The label can be as long or short as you want; the key is to write it so that everyone on the team understands what it’s doing. Avoid using words that are neutral or ambiguous, as they can confuse users.

Creating and Removing Toggle Configuration

A common practice in distributed systems is to build out a system of toggle configuration that lives side-by-side with the service instances themselves. This allows for toggles to be configured dynamically in-memory, or by redeploying an artifact onto a different server, without needing to restart the process in order to change the flags.

Oftentimes, this makes it easier to create and manage complex flag sets that are otherwise difficult to maintain via static files. However, it can also be a challenge to ensure that changes made in one toggle system are consistent across all instances in a fleet of servers.

Some savvy teams use an expiration date on their toggles, which makes it easier to remove them when the need no longer exists. Some even go as far as putting a “time bomb” on their toggles that will fail their tests if they remain in place after that date has passed.

A team should strive to keep their inventory of feature flags as low as possible. This means that they should be proactive in removing toggles that are no longer needed as well as making sure that their release toggles do not stick around too long (unless there is an obvious reason to keep them in place).