Feature flags (also referred to as a feature toggle) is a technique to turn some functionality of your application off, via configuration, without deploying new code. This allows for better control and more experimentation over the full lifecycle of features.
As feature development takes place server-side, they can be introduced simply as part of the product and engineering teams application development programme. As such feature flags are especially useful for teams using Agile and continuous delivery release programmes.
By taking an experimental approach and limiting exposure through rules, technical and performance risk can be greatly reduced. By first running A/B tests to a small segment of traffic, the team can determine the best version of a new feature or establish if the new feature represents an improvement. Once a feature has been tested and optimised, it can be rolled out as a ‘canary’ release. As such an informed decision can be established before full deployment.
In addition, as the changes in experience are all controlled entirely server-side, there is no risk of content flicker or need for page hiding techniques.
These are the same as Server-side testing in general. Coding and validation is conducted on the stack and will need to coordinate with the release programmes.
Through its REST API and Server-side testing platform, Webtrends Optimize can fully support feature testing. Once established, feature flags allow marketers and non-engineers to test various features within products without the need for a code deployment.
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