Our first ever #ToggleTalk was held on April 1st. It coincided with my first anniversary at LaunchDarkly. Therefore, we found it fitting that the topic should be “my first flag.”
Questions we posed:
- What was the first flag you ever deployed? What method did you use to deploy it?
- What do you know now that you wish you knew before deploying your first flag?
- How have your feature flagging practices changed since your first flag?
- Did your first flag work as expected?
My first introduction to feature flags came about eight years ago when I was a Product Manager at F5 Networks. With the Waterfall methodology being used, feature releases were not common occurrences. Getting features into a release wasn’t always possible, so my team got creative. We decided to deploy the features behind a flag in a config file as early access.
The notion of “invisible behavior” came up in response to the question, “How have your feature flagging practices changed since your first flag?”. Invisible behavior includes things like database migrations, logging levels, things not visible to end users but still essential for making applications run smoothly. We often think of flags for user-facing features or UX components, but their use doesn’t have to be limited to that. Flags can be used for infrastructure and operational tasks. Think about what invisible areas you can use flags for.
A3: More recently I’ve used flags for invisible behavior, notably migrating from one datastore to another. Having the flags allowed rapidly comparing a single build in different modes to ensure smooth migration. In other cases, the flags give opt-in behavior per outside user.
— Jeff Miller (@jmeowmeow) April 1, 2020
Some sage advice to those just starting with flags—don’t build and deploy flags in a vacuum. The flags you deploy may impact multiple business units. Remember to coordinate with others and get appropriate buy-in when necessary.
Make sure you plan out your needs across the business and with each stakeholder.
— Jeremy’s #SocialDistancing (@IAmJerdog) April 1, 2020
There’s a learning curve whenever you do something new. And hosting a Twitter chat is no exception. Thank you so much to those that provided feedback to help us make this stronger. We heard it was unclear whether we wanted people to respond to the questions posed.
Yes! We absolutely want to hear from you. These questions are a jumping-off point to start a conversation. We want to know what you think.
Going forward, we will also provide a brief description of a term or topic for those new to a topic.
If you have tips or suggestions on how to make these better going forward, please don’t hesitate to send them along.
Join us again next week Wednesday for the next installment of #ToggleTalk.
Until then, safe flagging.