What is a Toggle?

Toggle is a word used to describe a switch that can be either on or off. It can also be used to describe something that is in a temporary state, such as the way a person might toggle between screens when video chatting with two friends at once. It is also a method of changing settings within an application or program.

Many software products use toggle switches to allow users to change features of the product. These toggles are often called feature flags and are a good way to test and deploy new functionality to a subset of the user base. However, it is important to note that toggle switches are not the only option for implementing feature flags. In fact, they are not the best option in all circumstances. For example, if a user has to click a Save or Confirm button before the toggle changes are applied, it is not a good idea to implement the toggle switch. Instead, a simpler checkbox might be more appropriate.

Another reason that a toggle switch might not be the best choice is that it can be difficult for a user to understand what effect the change will have on their system. This is particularly true when a toggle switch has an ambiguous label, such as “Airplane Mode”. In these cases, it might be more effective to provide users with a descriptive text explanation of what the toggle does and why it might be useful to them.

Finally, some products find that using a toggle switch is not a good idea because it can cause performance issues. This is particularly the case when the toggle switch is used to download content. In these cases, the switch should only be used if the downloaded content will not need to be re-downloaded (i.e. if it is a one time download) or if the switch is being used to indicate that a user is actively downloading something.

Using a toggle switch as a download control can slow down the app and can lead to false assumptions by users. In general, it is a better idea to use a checkbox for downloads.

While there are several different ways to manage toggle configuration, most organizations move toggle configuration into some form of centralized location. This can be done through a config file or even into an existing database, such as an application DB. This can make it easier for development teams, testers and product managers to modify the toggle switch. It is important to remember that toggle configuration is transitionary by nature and will probably only remain in place for a short period of time, although product-centric toggles may need to stay around longer. Regardless, it is important to keep in mind that a toggle configuration change should be accompanied by a release. This makes it easier to roll out a new version of the software to include or remove the toggle switch. For more information about Toggle, check out our blog.