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Feature Flagging Best Practices

Every organization utilizes feature flags with a specific end goal in mind.

But as mentioned throughout this guide, our goal is to help you leverage feature flags to drive change and growth at an organizational level–not just within one or two of your dev teams. Thus, we emphasize a few best practices that’ll help you get the most out of your feature management solution and put it to work for you.

Choose your naming conventions carefully, and stick to them!

While naming conventions are less important when you have only one or two features in a single environment, they become critical to performance and technical debt management as your flag usage grows. Stick with a naming convention that helps differentiate temporary flags from more permanent ones, and briefly explains what the flag intends to do so you never run the risk of duplicate flags.

Know the different types of flags, and use them as intended

In order to maximize the effectiveness of your feature management solution, you should know the different types of feature flags that exist and when to use them. For instance, release flags should be used when separating a feature from a deployment, while experiment flags should be used if your intention is to conduct an A/B test for different variations of your app or website. For more information on the different flag types and what each should be used for, check out this article on Feature Toggles by Martin Fowler. 

Onboard your product team

(And any other non-technical, key business stakeholders!) While devs play an important role in actually creating features, the highest performing tech organizations know that there are plenty of other key players in the game. Your feature management platform should be easy enough for product and other non-technical team members to navigate without the risk of them breaking anything in the process. 

DevCycle’s feature-first dashboard has a “read-only” view so that product and other non-technical team members can update themselves on feature status or track feature performance without breaking code. Ultimately, the best feature management platforms foster and strengthen the relationship between product and engineering teams which benefits your entire organization. 

Maintain code hygiene and remove flags when necessary 

Feature flags are powerful tools, but they’re not immortal. Once they’ve served their purpose (and you’ve identified their dependencies) get rid of them. Adding more feature flags makes testing and management exponentially more difficult over time. It can become hard to tell which flags are necessary or obsolete. Luckily, DevCycle’s feature-first dashboard gives you instant flag status updates so you can see which are running and which are expired to keep your workflow clean and organized. Read more on technical debt management here!