Managing Toggle Configuration

Togle is an idiomatic term for a switch that has two possible outcomes: on and off. It is often used in software to refer to menu items that are marked on or off, but it is also common in hardware to use toggle switches for buttons that allow users to change a device’s settings.

The word toggle is derived from the 18th century words toggle (an eye or loop in a rope) and glede, meaning “to bind or fasten.” Today, toggle is most commonly used to describe an up-and-down switch like a light bulb. It’s also the word for a metal rod that’s fastened to a chain.

Managing Toggle Configuration

When it comes to managing toggle configuration there are a variety of different approaches. Some teams have a static approach, while others have a dynamic system for re-configuring toggle flags on the fly as needed.

Many teams have a centralized toggle store which can be used to manage feature flags and their configuration. This typically stores information in a database and can be accessed from an UI by team members who need to see toggle configuration.

Another popular way to manage toggles is by hardcoding them into code. While this is a good approach for less dynamic toggles, it can get cumbersome as the number of features grows and changes become more frequent.

Some teams have a process for removing toggles from their codebase that are no longer in use or need to be removed. These teams generally add a removal task to their backlog whenever a toggle is first introduced and put expiration dates on them as well.

Using Toggle State Descriptors

In addition to hardcoding toggle configuration into source control, some teams have an in-memory mechanism for re-configuring toggles on the fly. This allows teams to flip a toggle without restarting the application or re-deployping the artifact into a testing environment.

Using Color to signal Statechange

When designing toggles it’s important to use colors that convey a particular state. Choosing a high-contrast color will help make it easier for users to distinguish between the different states of a toggle. It’s also a good idea to use a state descriptor, such as On and Off, next to the toggle to provide users with a clear indication of its current status.

Providing a fall-back path for toggles is important as well. This can avoid regressions in a future release.

Experiment Toggles are a great way to test the impact of changes or tweaks in your application’s behavior. By exposing both paths of a toggle to the same set of users you can make data-driven optimizations that improve the user experience.

A/B Testing Toggles

A/B testing is a way to compare the impact of different design decisions and codepaths on a particular group of users. It’s a powerful tool that can save teams time and money while improving the quality of their application.