Feature Toggle In CICD Pipeline
Feature flags are essential for your continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) process. Using feature flags for CI/CD is recommended to protect new features as they progress through the pipeline. At the same time, they assist your team in remaining productive by providing feedback on their performance. A feature flag is a switch that allows you to enable or disable code blocks.
This will allow programmers to test new features without risking the program’s integrity. For example, it can become challenging to merge everyone’s code as the team increases. You can use feature flags to disable a section of code that’s causing issues after it’s been integrated and deployed. You may be ready to ship the work you perform every day using feature flags. When you hear that some firms deploy many times per day, they’re utilising feature flags to increase efficiency. With DevOps certification, you can understand the whole DevOps cycle to implement in a better way.
What are feature flags?
Features flags are a software engineering approach that allows developers to continuously integrate code into the main trunk. It entails sending into production unfinished features that will remain inactive until they are ready. Feature flags are also used in software delivery; the code can be activated with a switch flick when a feature is finished. At any given time, feature flags regulate which code paths are active.
These flags, sometimes known as feature toggles, switchers, or flippers, can be turned on and off at build time or runtime, allowing teams to modify an application’s behaviour without updating the code. DevOps considers feature flags to be an excellent practice. CI/CD pipelines distribute software to end customers faster by deploying code many times per day. On the other hand, fast does not always imply being bug-free or secure. One of the safety precautions you may use to turn off a feature that isn’t performing well in production is to use feature flags. Feature Flags are the foundation for distributing software faster and with a high degree of control in the context of CD.
Why use feature flags?
To boost the speed of code deployments, you’ll need to set up a CI/CD pipeline. The goal of CI/CD is to provide software to end-users faster. You must have safety precautions in place to move rapidly. One of these safeguards is the use of feature flags. Using feature flags, you can disable a feature that behaves strangely in production without reverting the code.
Teams that use trunk-based development benefit from feature flags as well. Developers contribute code to a single trunk (or main) branch rather than long-lived feature or development branches in trunk-based development. A single code branch reduces merge conflicts and faulty builds, resulting in a cleaner codebase. Use a flag instead of a feature branch to gate features that aren’t ready.
Features of feature toggles
- Allows you to deploy feature code changes to production, even if the feature isn’t ready yet.
- In addition, a product owner can turn features “on” or “off.”
- Features can be found throughout the entire application stack, from the front end to the services.
- Iterative code deployment is faster and safer, with less risk.
- Assists developers and testers in maintaining a continuous development flow.
- Pain associated with long-lived branches is alleviated.
- Simple rollbacks are possible by just flipping the feature toggle.
Advantages of feature flags
Despite adding to the codebase’s complexity, feature flags are effective when it comes to software delivery-
Short development cycle
Without feature flags, you’ll have to wait weeks for a feature to be tested entirely before deploying it. However, we may use them to deploy multiple times per day, test half produced features, and receive immediate feedback.
Test in production
Having the ability to test with actual, live users in a production setting can give you a better knowledge of how the system works. However, the concern is how to test in a production environment without worrying about rolling back or redeploying if something goes wrong. The feature flag platform comes with solid targeting and configurable rules to limit access to new features. By simply toggling the feature flag, you can turn off access to any feature and restore the previous behaviour.
One of the most apparent advantages of feature toggles is that they allow you to introduce new features while still being worked on. However, because each new feature is hidden behind a toggle, you won’t be able to use it until you turn that toggle on.
Development and deployment schedules can be separated if you have a means for adjusting your toggles in production.
The agony and danger of late-night discharges are replaced with a single click that can occur.
With less risk, you can ship more.
Feature flags allow engineering teams to provide additional features while reducing risk. For example, different code versions can be wrapped in conditional statements that can be turned on and off at a whim by development teams. This gives a developer the freedom to work more efficiently and stress-free, especially before a deployment.
Test features in production while collecting essential customer feedback quickly and safely. For example, several popular apps use feature flagging to see how users react to new features. As a result, they increase the number of users who download the latest version with no app updates as they hear positive feedback and grow confidence in the feature.
Many prominent companies, like Gmail and Netflix, use feature toggling. Unfortunately, a feature flag increases the system’s complexity while increasing its flexibility. And while feature flags are helpful, it’s ideal to have them short-lived and in limited numbers. Feature flags eliminate the need to maintain numerous feature branches within your source code. Using feature flags can help businesses ship more frequently, reduce risk, boost productivity, and even aid with user targeting and A/B testing. Using feature flags to evaluate a company’s branching approach can be extremely useful, especially if you need to ship regularly.
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