What Is a Toggle?

A toggle is a switch that can be in either one of two states, either on or off. This type of switch is commonly found in hardware such as phones and laptops, where it allows a user to control features such as WiFi and Bluetooth. Toggles are also common in software applications, where they are often used to enable or disable functionality.

A feature toggle is a great way to test new features with a subset of your audience before rolling them out to everyone. This is a great way to avoid expensive mistakes and ensure that a newly designed or redesigned feature will be well received by your users.

Using toggles to validate features with a subset of your audience is also very beneficial because it provides you with early feedback on how a new feature will be received. This feedback can be extremely helpful in avoiding potential product flops, which can cost you millions of dollars and severely impact your company’s reputation.

It’s important to note that while the use of toggles for experimentation is very beneficial, it should not be used as a replacement for rigorous user research and data analysis. In fact, it’s often better to use a combination of techniques such as A/B testing and real world user data when designing and releasing new features.

Toggle Configuration

Managing feature toggle configuration is not a trivial task, especially at scale. Most teams move to some form of centralized toggle management, which typically involves an existing application DB and some kind of admin UI that can be used by system operators, testers and product managers to view and modify Toggle Flags and their configuration. This is especially true for large organizations that need to manage multiple instances of a product and ensure consistent configuration across all servers.

In general, a toggle is a better choice than a checkbox or radio button for changing settings because it forces a mutually exclusive state and requires less screen real estate. However, it’s still important to be cognizant of the cognitive issues involved with toggles – namely that they must be clear and obvious as to their current state – otherwise they can be misleading.

Many teams use toggles to test different variants of their products in production. This is often done by enabling or disabling a set of features with the toggles and then monitoring performance. Often, a team will also perform some tests with all of the toggles they plan to release flipped on, in order to avoid any surprise regressions in their next release. That said, it’s important to determine case-by-case whether a toggle is needed for a bug fix, as doing so can potentially increase the complexity of the fix itself.