Toggle is a piece of hardware that binds one end of a rope or chain to the other to fasten it. It’s also used in software to switch between two different functions, such as the Caps Lock and Num Lock keys on a keyboard. Toggle is also a verb meaning to shift between two positions or perspectives, as in the way you toggle between a stream and a map view on Snapchat.
In the software world, toggles are often used to perform multivariate (A/B) testing, where a specific group of users gets one codepath while another gets the other. The goal is to optimize for an improved user experience based on data.
Toggles can be a powerful tool but they can also introduce a lot of complexity into the system. When using toggles it’s important to make sure the system is built out with a robust configuration system that allows for dynamic in-memory re-configuration of service instances. Many teams find it helpful to move this toggle configuration away from static files and into some type of centralized store (usually the application’s existing DB) that allows for easy management by administrators, testers and product managers.
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