What Is a Toggle?

Toggle is a term used in computer hardware and software to indicate that something can be switched on or off. For example, the Caps Lock and Num Lock keys on keyboards are toggle switches that turn certain functions on or off. Toggle switches can also be found in most applications in the form of options menus. In general, any control that can be turned on or off is considered to be a toggle switch.

While they’re extremely powerful, toggles can be tricky to use properly. They require clear labels to be effective, and the right visual clues are crucial for success. This is especially true for users with red/green color blindness, who may be confused by green (on) and red (off). Toggles are also notoriously difficult to make accessible. Most designers assume that users will interpret “on” and “off” as a simple binary, but that’s not always the case.

Using feature toggles allows you to support more agile development processes, which can save time by cutting out some of the steps involved in traditional waterfall models. Instead of deploying features on separate code branches, your team can develop and test them behind toggles and then merge them back into trunk at the appropriate point in the process. This can be particularly helpful for integrating new features with existing ones, as it can decrease MTTR and allow you to deploy changes faster. It’s important to manage your inventory of toggles well by pruning them as soon as they’re no longer needed. This will help reduce clutter in your codebase, and it’ll help your team stay focused on what matters most.