Come join our happy hour in Seattle! – Click here.

How You Can Use Feature Flags to Simplify Your Rollback Plan


Split - Feature Flags In Your Rollback Plan?

Rollback plans are crucial components of the software development process, serving as a safety net when deployments encounter unexpected issues. These contingency plans are often overlooked as part of configuration management, leading to severe consequences in case of deployment failures. A rollback plan outlines the steps to revert a software deployment to a previous version or state, ensuring minimal disruption and downtime.

Incorporating feature flags into rollback strategies can significantly enhance their effectiveness. Feature flags allow developers and DevOps teams to toggle specific features on or off, providing a mechanism to quickly disable problematic functionality during a rollback. This level of granularity ensures that only the affected features are rolled back, minimizing the impact on the overall system. Additionally, feature flags can automate parts of the rollback process, such as triggering notifications or executing predefined rollback scripts. By leveraging feature flags, teams can streamline their rollback strategies, making them more efficient and less error-prone.

In this post, we delve into the concept of a rollback plan, its significance in software development, and how feature flags can be instrumental in a smooth implementation. The aim is to assist you in designing an efficient rollback template that aligns seamlessly with your software development practices. Ready to plan for the worst and aim for success?

Understanding the Rollback Plan

At its core, a rollback plan is a strategy that helps software developers revert their codebase to a previous state if any issues arise during or after a new release. To optimize a rollback plan, it’s important to view it as more than just an emergency strategy. A well-designed rollback plan is a proactive measure, anticipating potential software failures and mitigating risks before they escalate. By being proactive, teams can avoid the need for reactionary measures and ensure smoother operations.

Incorporating feature flags into rollback strategies can further enhance their effectiveness. Feature flags allow for the quick and precise toggling of specific features, enabling teams to selectively roll back only the affected components. This targeted approach minimizes disruption and allows for a more controlled rollback process. Additionally, automation tools can streamline the rollback process, reducing the need for manual intervention and ensuring a faster response to issues.

Effective rollback plans also involve clear communication and collaboration among stakeholders. This includes defining roles and responsibilities, establishing communication channels, and ensuring that all team members are aware of the rollback procedures. By involving stakeholders early in the process, teams can ensure a smoother back-out process and minimize the impact of potential failures.

Overall, a well-designed rollback plan is an essential component of the change management process in software development. It provides a safety net for deployments, allowing teams to respond quickly and effectively to issues while minimizing disruption to services. By incorporating best practices, automation tools, and clear communication, teams can optimize their rollback plans and enhance their overall development process.

Rollback Plans in Software Development

Software development is a meticulous process that involves designing, coding, testing, and deploying. Despite the level of precaution involved, there’s always a risk of unforeseen bugs and errors creeping up post-deployment. When such issues arise, they can lead to service disruption, impacting the user experience and potentially damaging your brand reputation. Not a good look. 

Here’s where the rollback plan comes into play. A robust rollback plan allows you to quickly restore service, minimizing the potential for damage. Moreover, it offers an opportunity to reassess the problems and fine-tune the software before redeploying.

Feature Flags and Rollback Plans: A Perfect Symbiosis

Feature flags, also known as feature toggles or feature gates, are a powerful tool that can enhance your rollback plan significantly. Feature flags provide developers with the ability to switch on or off specific features of a software application. They allow new features to be selectively exposed to users in a controlled manner that’s perfect for A/B testing and phased rollouts. Feature flags help teams gradually release features, test changes, and gather feedback before fully rolling out updates. Not only do they assist new deployments; feature flags serve as kill switches for previous versions/previous deployments, quickly reverting to a previous version of the software if issues arise.

When it comes to the creation of a rollback plan, think of feature flags as your safety net. Every deployment process and deployment plan should have a rollback plan in mind. They allow developers to toggle off problematic features without reverting the entire codebase. This granular control helps to minimize the scope of the rollback, enabling swift issue resolution without impacting unaffected features.

Implementing Rollback Plans Using Feature Flags With Split

Split, with its feature flag solution, offers a perfect platform for implementing an effective rollback plan. The platform connects with APIs to facilitate feature management, enabling developers to control feature flags and manage deployments programmatically. Here’s how you can go about it:

Design your features with feature flags

When developing a new feature, encapsulate it within a feature flag. This practice provides you with the ability to enable or disable the feature without code modifications. All you have to do is push on and off switches.

Test in a controlled environment 

Use the feature flags to enable the new feature or config for a specific audience or environment. You can test and gather feedback without affecting all users. If you cause a stir, it will be fairly minimal.

Plan for rollbacks

Before deploying a new feature, ensure that your rollback plan includes the feature flag. If an issue arises post-deployment, you can simply toggle the feature flag off to rollback.

Monitor and refine

Split provides real-time data and insight at the feature-level, which helps monitor the impact of your features. If something goes wrong, the causal analysis feedback that you gain can guide your rollback plan and subsequent refinement of the feature.

To Wrap Up

The integration of feature flags in your rollback plan can be a game-changer. By offering a swift response mechanism for software failures, feature flags can prevent minor issues from escalating into significant problems. Seriously, never underestimate the value of a well-designed rollback plan  that includes feature flags. By utilizing the feature management and experimentation platforms like Split , you can ensure a smooth rollout with automated rollout monitoring, and if necessary, rollback software to prevent drama. Your systems will remain stable and your users will thank you.

Switch It On With Split

The Split Feature Data Platform™ gives you the confidence to move fast without breaking things. Set up feature flags and safely deploy to production, controlling who sees which features and when. Connect every flag to contextual data, so you can know if your features are making things better or worse and act without hesitation. Effortlessly conduct feature experiments like A/B tests without slowing down. Whether you’re looking to increase your releases, to decrease your MTTR, or to ignite your dev team without burning them out–Split is both a feature management platform and partnership to revolutionize the way the work gets done. Schedule a demo to learn more.

Get Split Certified

Split Arcade includes product explainer videos, clickable product tutorials, manipulatable code examples, and interactive challenges.

Want to Dive Deeper?

We have a lot to explore that can help you understand feature flags. Learn more about benefits, use cases, and real world applications that you can try.

Create Impact With Everything You Build

We’re excited to accompany you on your journey as you build faster, release safer, and launch impactful products.