What Is a Toggle?

A toggle is a switch that enforces a pair of opposing states, like on and off. Toggles are used in many settings to let people manage the state of content, views, or other types of information. Toggles should be accompanied by clear labels that communicate the state they’re controlling, and update their appearance accordingly. This way, it’s easy for people to understand what state the toggle is currently in.

For example, if you use a toggle to enable an option that’s only available in certain contexts, make sure to clearly label that context in order to avoid confusion about its purpose. Also, when using toggles, consider how their colors might be perceived by people with color vision deficiency (e.g., green vs red). In general, you should avoid relying solely on color to convey meaning—it’s too unreliable. A more reliable approach is to use a primary visual cue such as embossment or font size instead.

The word “toggle” is from the Middle English verb toggle, which meant to fasten something, especially a cord or drawstring, by passing it back and forth through an eye or knot. It is also the name of a type of pin or fastener that has an up-and-down switch to control an electrical connection or light bulb. The term was also once used to refer to a pin or rod passed through the eye of a toggle—a kind of fastener still in common use to stop cords from becoming tangled.

Tech leaders are tasked with keeping their organizations on the cutting edge of technology, from cloud solutions and artificial intelligence to data privacy and cybersecurity. They also have to manage and grow a diverse set of internal teams—from developers and data scientists to QA analysts and product managers. In short, these leaders have their hands in every aspect of the technology puzzle, which makes it challenging for them to keep up with all the changes that are happening at the same time.

Toggle is a digital magazine that takes a deep dive into the complex world of these top technologists and shows how they’re working to solve some of the most pressing business challenges for their organizations. Each issue will explore one of the critical areas that these executives must tackle, from navigating technical debt to building and maintaining the right team, and more.

Savvy teams view the Feature Toggles in their codebase as inventory that comes with a carrying cost and they seek to keep that inventory as low as possible. This often means proactively adding tasks to remove Feature Toggles that are no longer needed to the team’s backlog. This practice helps ensure that no feature flag is left in the product for too long and impacts the CI/CD cycle time by causing unnecessary delays between artifacts in a live environment. This is why a solid system of runtime configuration (as opposed to deployment) is so important when it comes to Feature Toggles.