Flagship 2024 – Day 2 is live! Click here to register and watch now.

Glossary

Configuration Flag

By incorporating configuration flags into their development workflow, teams can improve their deployment strategies, enhance testing capabilities, and deliver a better user experience. However, it’s important to manage these flags carefully to avoid complexity.

What is a Configuration Flag?

A configuration flag, often referred to as a feature flag, toggle, or switch, is a software development technique used to enable or disable functionality in an application without changing the code. It allows developers and operations teams to control the availability of features, manage deployments, and facilitate testing and experimentation.

Uses and Applications:

  • Feature Rollout: Gradually enable new features for users, allowing for phased rollouts and A/B testing.
  • Operational Flexibility: Quickly disable features in response to issues, such as performance degradation or security vulnerabilities, without deploying new code.
  • Environment-Specific Configuration: Tailor application behavior across different environments (development, staging, production) without code changes.
  • User-Specific Features: Enable or disable features for specific users or groups, facilitating beta testing or personalized experiences.

Components:

  • Flag Management System: A system or service that stores and manages the state of configuration flags. This can be a custom solution or a third-party service.
  • Code Implementation: The application code must check the flag’s state to determine whether to execute the associated feature or code path.
  • Flag Store: A database or configuration file where the flag states are stored. This can be part of the application’s infrastructure or a separate service.

Characteristics:

  • Dynamic Configuration: Allows for changes in application behavior at runtime without the need for code deployments.
  • Decoupling Deployment from Release: Enables code to be deployed but not activated until the flag is enabled, separating the act of deploying code from releasing features.
  • Risk Mitigation: Reduces the risk associated with deploying new features by providing a quick rollback mechanism if issues arise.

Best Practices:

  • Clear Naming Conventions: Use descriptive and consistent names for flags to ensure their purpose is easily understood.
  • Lifecycle Management: Implement processes for creating, updating, and retiring flags to avoid clutter and potential technical debt.
  • Monitoring and Logging: Track flag state changes and feature usage to understand the impact of changes and identify potential issues.
  • Secure Access Controls: Restrict access to flag management based on roles to prevent unauthorized changes to feature states.
  • Documentation: Maintain documentation for each flag, including its purpose, associated features, and expected behaviors.

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.

Want to see how Split can measure impact and reduce release risk? 

Book a demo