What Is a Toggle?

A toggle is a piece of hardware that switches between different settings or options. For example, the key on your keyboard that turns the caps lock on and off is a toggle. Toggles can also be used in software and are often found in menu options. The idea behind a toggle is that it’s initially off, and then when the user clicks or taps on it, it changes to on. Toggles should not be confused with radio buttons, checkboxes, or other controls that require a decision from the user and deliver immediate results (such as the Submit button on a form).

When using a toggle switch, its label should make it clear what option the control is enabling. Labels should also be short and direct, avoiding words such as “no” or “yes.” For this reason, toggle switches are a good choice for settings that can be changed on demand and that don’t need to be saved or confirmed by the user. Toggle switches are a good option for mobile because they provide less visual noise and take up less screen space than two radio buttons or checkboxes.

In some cases, toggles may need to be rolled out in multiple stages or phases of release. This is a good way to reduce risk and ensure that features are tested in production before being exposed to the entire population. For instance, a feature that is being introduced to an audience of 100,000 people can be rolled out in two separate stages – a Canary release and a Champagne Brunch. The Champagne Brunch will be available to a small number of users, and the Canary release will be rolled out to a random sample of the user base.

Using toggles can help developers avoid creating complex if-else conditions in the code, which is one of the most common violations of clean code principles. However, developers need to be careful when using this technique to ensure that the toggle is being used correctly and doesn’t introduce any additional bugs.

Toggles are also useful for implementing experimentation on existing products, and can be used in combination with other user interface elements to create more complex interactions. Toggles can be used to run A/B testing, or as a replacement for the traditional “Submit” button on forms. Generally, the toggling decision for a Release Toggle shouldn’t be very long-lived, and it’s important that it’s updated regularly in order to test the system with new cohorts of users.