What Is a Togle?

A toggle is a switch that can be set to either on or off. In software programming, a toggle is a feature flag that can be enabled or disabled and that can alter code behavior. It is sometimes used in multivariate testing to change the flow of code for a given cohort of users.

A good example of this is changing a form field’s label to “Save” or “Cancel.” This change can be tested without affecting the user experience for any existing customers, but will affect all future users. This is often the case for features that require an opt-in or opt-out model where the user is presented with two options.

Toggles are commonly used for a variety of things: enabling experimental features, reducing the amount of code required in production, and making it easier to migrate content to new platforms. Generally speaking, the use of a toggle should be considered carefully because it can introduce additional complexity into the code base and may result in a more difficult to maintain UI.

When creating a toggle it is important to remember that the end goal of the feature is to enable or disable a piece of functionality and thus the design should be simple and clear to users as to what will happen when they click on the toggle. One common way to do this is by utilizing high contrast colors for the on and off states of the toggle. However, this could be counterintuitive if users are used to seeing other designs that utilize the same visual cues (such as sliders) in other applications. In addition, it is important to evaluate the societal and cultural implications of the toggle color and state descriptors to avoid any potential confusion or conflict.

In general, a toggle should be as short-lived as possible. Savvy teams view toggles as inventory that has a carrying cost, and they seek to keep this cost low by being proactive in removing feature flags when they are no longer needed. This is why some teams even have a team tasked with adding a toggle removal task to the product backlog whenever a new toggle is introduced. Others put expiration dates on toggles to prevent them from being accidentally left in place for years at a time.

Using static files to manage toggle configuration can become cumbersome at scale and ensuring consistency across environments is challenging. As a result, many organizations move their toggle configuration to a central repository that provides for version control and automated testing. In the case of Drupal, this is called the Content Toggle Object Model (CTOM). The CTOM allows you to create a content item that will be toggled based on a user’s preference or permission level. This can include article sections, containers, images, maps, key/value items, prompt linked articles, quotes, aloud boxes and character relations. This is often paired with other toggles like secret and subscriber containers to control access to content in the World.