What Is a Toggle?


Toggle is a switch that alternates between two positions, on and off. This word can be applied to both software and hardware: the key that turns your Caps Lock on or off, for instance, acts as a toggle for a specific function, while options menus are often described as toggles. In terms of user experience, toggles should have clear labels and visual cues that communicate the action of switching between states.

Many teams also leverage Feature Toggles to perform multivariate or A/B testing. By establishing a set of toggling rules, it’s easy to swap the behavior of a system for some subset of users, such as those in a certain demographic. By analyzing the performance of each configuration, it’s then possible to identify which version has the best overall effect.

Savvy teams view their Feature Toggle inventory as something that comes with a carrying cost, and they seek to keep this number low by removing toggles when they’re no longer needed. In fact, some teams even put “expiration dates” on toggles, so that a release will fail to build if a toggle has not been removed by the time of the next build.

The most important thing to remember when working with Toggles is that they’re typically very short-lived, even for product-centric toggles (like a Champagne Brunch). They need to be constantly monitored and updated in order to remain effective, so it makes sense for teams to implement a process around the creation of new toggles or modifications to existing ones.