What is a Toggle?

Toggle is a piece of hardware that is pushed into a loop or hole in order to fasten it. This simple but effective mechanism is also found in software as a toggle switch or control that allows users to choose between two options. Toggles are a great way to update preferences, settings or other types of information quickly and efficiently. When implementing Toggles it is important to provide clear labels, use standard visual design and deliver immediate results when changing state. A good rule of thumb is to only use Toggles when the user must make a decision between two opposing states.

The word toggle has a variety of other meanings as well, including pin passed through the eye of a rope to fasten it or to alternate between two screens in a video chat. It is also the name of an application in which a user can toggle between different settings and versions of the app.

A common use of Toggles is to perform multivariate or A/B testing. In these cases the system is divided into cohorts and at runtime the Toggle Router consistently sends a given user down one codepath or another. This allows for a comparison of the aggregate behavior of each cohort with the aggregate behavior of the other.

When deciding how to organize content on a website or app it is helpful to consider using collapsible toggles or accordions. These tools can help minimize scrolling and allow visitors to find the content that is most relevant to them. They can be used on a per textbox or article basis. For example, if you want to hide article IDs in the Euclid editor a per-textbox “Mention ID” toggle would be useful.

Depending on the implementation of a feature flag system it can be difficult to test all possible toggle configurations in a live production environment. To help with this problem many teams choose to move toggle configuration into some type of centralized store, often an existing application DB. This approach is usually accompanied by the build-out of some form of admin UI that enables system operators, testers and product managers to view and modify the feature flag configuration. This reduces the amount of time it takes to manually change a toggle and allows for a more robust feedback loop during the validation phase of a release cycle. It can also eliminate the need to deploy a new version of a deployed artifact in order to change its toggle configuration.