What Are Feature Flags?

Feature flags are a software development technique that help to turn certain functionality on and off during runtime without the deployment of code. For both feature flags and modern development in general, it is always focused on the race to deploy software faster to the customers. However, it is not only that the software has to reach the customer faster, but it also has to be done with lesser risk. Feature flags are a potent tool (set of patterns or techniques) that can be used to reinforce the CI/CD pipeline by increasing the velocity and decreasing the risk of the software deployed to the production environment. Feature flags are also known as feature bits, feature flippers, feature gates, conditional features, feature switches, or feature toggles (even though the last one may have a subtle distinction which we will see a bit later).

Feature flags help to control and experiment over the feature lifecycle. They are a DevOps best practice that are often observed in distributed version control systems. Even incomplete features can be pushed to production because feature flags help to separate deployment from release. Earlier, the lowest level of control was at the deployment level. Now, feature flags move the lowest level of control to each individual item or artifact (feature, update, or bug fixes) that’s in production which makes it even more granular than the production deployment.

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