New FeatureToggle Release: v3.4 With Fluent Syntax

FeatureToggle is an open source feature toggling / feature switching library for .NET.

Version 3.4 Introduces an new additional way to get the value of whether a toggle is enabled or not.

In versions to v3.3 and earlier, to get the value of a toggle, an instance of the toggle class needed to be created manually:

new SampleFeatureToggle().FeatureEnabled

With v3.4 a new additional fluent way is introduced to improve readability and offer a convenience when evaluating a toggle.

First reference the FeatureToggle.Core.Fluent namespace, then the Is<T> class can be used as follows:

Is<SampleFeatureToggle>.Enabled
Is<SampleFeatureToggle>.Disabled

To make the fluent style a little more readable, the name of the concrete toggle class can be shorted, so rather than PrintFeatureToggle for example, it could be named Print, the code would then read:

Is<Printing>.Enabled
Is<Printing>.Disabled

FeatureToggle v3.3 Released

FeatureToggle is an open source feature toggling library for .NET.

Version 3.3 was just released to NuGet and includes two minor new features as described below.

FallbackValueDecorator

The FallbackValueDecorator allows you to wrap (decorate) a primary toggle and specific a fallback toggle to be used if the primary toggle fails or is not configured.

new FallbackValueDecorator(new MyPrimaryToggle(), new MyFallbackToggle());

An optional overload allows the specifying of an Action<Exception> to be called if the primary toggle errors for example to perform some logging or alerting:

public FallbackValueDecorator(IFeatureToggle primaryToggle, IFeatureToggle fallbackToggle, Action<Exception> logAction = null)

CompositeOrDecorator

The CompositeOrDecorator allows the specification of two toggle instances, if either one of the toggles is enabled the decorator will return true:

new CompositeOrDecorator(new AnEnabledFeature(), new ADisabledFeature());


If you’re new to the concept of feature toggling or FeatureToggle check out my Pluralsight course Implementing Feature Toggles in .NET with FeatureToggle or the documentation.


Thanks to Craig Vermeer for the work investigating failing convention tests in VS2015 for this release.

FeatureToggle 3.2 Released

FeatureToggle logo image

A minor release of my open source FeatureToggle library has just been released to NuGet.

Version 3.2 was a result of user requests to be able to configure toggles that get their values from sql server to be configured using the <connectionStrings> section of the .config file.

A Sql based toggle can now be configured a number of different ways

Using appSettings only

This is the original method:

<appSettings>
   <add key="FeatureToggle.SaveToPdfFeatureToggle.ConnectionString" value="Data Source=.\SQLEXPRESS;Initial Catalog=FeatureToggleDatabase;Integrated Security=True;Pooling=False"/>
   <add key="FeatureToggle.SaveToPdfFeatureToggle.SqlStatement" value="select Value from Toggle where ToggleName = 'SaveToPdfFeatureToggle'"/>
</appSettings>

Using connectionStrings Entry by Convention

<appSettings>
    <add key="FeatureToggle.SaveToPdfFeatureToggle.SqlStatement" value="select Value from Toggle where ToggleName = 'SaveToPdfFeatureToggle'"/>
</appSettings>

<connectionStrings>
    <add name="FeatureToggle.SaveToPdfFeatureToggle" connectionString="Data Source=.\SQLEXPRESS;Initial Catalog=FeatureToggleIntegrationTests;Integrated Security=True;Pooling=False" />    
</connectionStrings>

 

Using connectionStrings Custom Named Entry

This option allows multiple toggles to share a named connection if you have more than one sql toggle in the application.

<appSettings>
    <add key="FeatureToggle.SaveToPdfFeatureToggle.SqlStatement" value="select Value from Toggle where ToggleName = 'SaveToPdfFeatureToggle'"/>
    <add key="FeatureToggle.SaveToPdfFeatureToggle.ConnectionStringName" value="myAwesomeConnection" />
</appSettings>

<connectionStrings>
    <add name="myAwesomeConnection" connectionString="Data Source=.\SQLEXPRESS;Initial Catalog=FeatureToggleIntegrationTests;Integrated Security=True;Pooling=False" />    
</connectionStrings>

Thanks

Thanks to the following people for contributions and ideas:

FeatureToggle Version 3 Released

FeatureToggle logo image

Version 3 of my open source feature toggle library is now released to NuGet.

Version 3 introduces some breaking changes and new features.

Breaking Changes

  • The WPF value convertor package has been removed for version 3 as it’s trivial to implement a version in individual applications and reduce the maintenance overhead for the porject
  • Version 3 removes support for Windows Phone 8.0 (you can still use version 2.x if you need this support)

New Features

Platforms Support

In addition to .NET framework 4 full, version 3 also supports:

  • Windows Phone 8.1 Silverlight apps
  • Windows Universal Apps 8.1 (Store and Windows Phone 8.1 WinRT)
  • Windows Store 8.1 apps

Future versions will add support for Windows 10 apps.

New Toggle Types

The EnabledOnOrAfterAssemblyVersionWhereToggleIsDefinedToggle (a little verbose I know) allows a feature to become enabled once a specified assembly version number is reached. The assembly version used is that of the assembly inside which the toggle is defined, rather that the executing assembly. The configuration value for this toggle would be (for example) 0.0.2.1.

Future version will add support for comparing the executing assembly version.

New Decorators

A new type of feature that version 3 introduces is the idea of toggle decorators. These are classes that “wrap” one or more toggles and provide additional features.

The DefaultToEnabledOnErrorDecorator and the DefaultToDisabledOnErrorDecorator allows a default value to provided if there is an error evaluating the wrapped toggle value, for example with a configuration error. These decorators should be used with caution as your application may end up in an unknown state if you forget to configure something properly. In some cases you may want this behaviour rather than the application failing.

Assuming that a feature toggle called MyFeatureToggle has been defined, to use the decorator the following code would be used.

IFeatureToggle printFeatureThatDefaultsToDisabled = new DefaultToDisabledOnErrorDecorator( new MyFeatureToggle() );

bool isPrintEnabled = printFeatureThatDefaultsToDisabled.FeatureEnabled;

These decorators also allow you to specify an optional logging action that gets called if the wrapped toggle throws an exception:

new DefaultToDisabledOnErrorDecorator(wrappedToggle, ex => Console.WriteLine(ex.Message));

 

The CompositeAndDecorator allows multiple toggles to be wrapped, only if all these wrapped toggles are enabled will the decorator return true.

IFeatureToggle andToggle = new CompositeAndDecorator(new AnEnabledFeature(), new ADisabledFeature());

var isEnabled = andToggle.FeatureEnabled; // returns false

 

The final new decorator is the FixedTimeCacheDecorator. This allows a toggle that gets its value from a slow source (such as remote database, http, etc.) to have its value cached for a fixed period of time. To use this you specify the wrapped toggle and a TimeSpan.

IFeatureToggle cachedToggle = new FixedTimeCacheDecorator(cachedToggle, TimeSpan.FromSeconds(10));

 

Check out the release notes on GitHub. If you find any problems or bugs or want to suggest other features, please create an issue on GitHub.

An Update on FeatureToggle v3 Development

The next version of my open source feature toggling library is currently in development.

Version 3 will introduce a number of new features and retire support for some older platforms. For the currently implemented changes (not yet released at the time of writing) see GitHub release notes, and the complete list of v3 issues/features.

Some notable additions include some new toggle types to enable scenarios such as automatically enabling a feature once the assembly version number meets or exceeds a specific version and decorators to allow a toggle to default to on or off if the underlying toggle errors in some way, such as missing configuration or network error while retrieving the toggle value from a remote source such as SQL Server.

Once v3 development is complete it will be available via NuGet.

New Pluralsight Course - Implementing Feature Toggles in .NET with FeatureToggle

Feature toggles (also referred to as feature flags, flippers, feature switches, etc) are a technique to turn on or off features in applications. One way of categorising feature toggles is whether they are for the benefit of the development team (“release toggles”) or the business/stakeholders (“business toggles”). Release toggles are an alternative/compliment to feature branching and are short lived. Business toggles are long lived and represent application features that are enabled depending on business defined rules.

In my new Pluralsight course Implementing Feature Toggles in .NET with FeatureToggle I talk about the different types of toggles and some general things to consider when using toggles, followed by modules showing how to use the FeatureToggle open source library.

FeatureToggle 2.2Released

Release 2.2 of FeatureToggle is now available via NuGet.

This release adds a single new toggle: HttpJsonFeatureToggle.

This toggle gets it's enabled state from a JSON HTTP endpoint.

Configuration should be the url where the JSON configuration lives, e.g:

<add key="FeatureToggle.HttpJsonTrueToggle" value="http://localhost:8084/api/test/getenabled" />

As with all the toggles, if url is not available then an exception will be raised, rather than assuming either enabled or disabled.

The expected JSON that should be returned is in the form:  {"enabled": true} or  {"enabled": false}

Documentation here.

I’m thinking the next major release will be Version 3, planned changes here.

Custom FeatureToggle Implementations for Non-Continuous-Delivery Usages

My open source fetaure toggling library contains a number of prebuilt toggles for common things such as enabling a feature based on the date, or a configuration value.

It’s also easy to create custom toggles by implementing IFeatureToggle.

Up to now, FeatureToggle has mainly been an aid for continuous delivery; a “half done” feature can simply be configured off so it doesn’t appear in the UI.

I’m wondering if the following approach has merit, namely treating conditionally available features as a first class citizens. So this is not just using them for continuous delivery but to encapsulate actual features of the application.

The example below requires 3 NuGet packages:

  • FeatureToggle.Core
  • FeatureToggle.WPFExtensions
  • MVVMLight

So the feature in the application will restrict the availability of mature rated games to customers who are 18+.

First off the feature toggle:

using FeatureToggle.Core;

namespace CustomFeatureToggle
{
    class MatureTitleSelectionFeature : IFeatureToggle
    {       
        public MatureTitleSelectionFeature(Customer customer)
        {
            FeatureEnabled = customer.Age >= 18;
        }

        public bool FeatureEnabled { get; set; }
    }
}

Here the business logic is encapsulated in the feature toggle and can be tested.

Next the viewmodel:

class MainViewModel : ViewModelBase
{
    private Customer _selectedCustomer;
    private IFeatureToggle _matureTitlesFeature;
    private ObservableCollection<Customer> _customers;

    public MainViewModel()
    {
        Customers = new ObservableCollection<Customer>
                    {
                        new Customer {Name = "Sarah", Age = 32},
                        new Customer {Name = "Robert", Age = 17}
                    };

        SelectedCustomer = Customers[0];

        MatureTitlesFeature = new MatureTitleSelectionFeature(SelectedCustomer);
    }

    public ObservableCollection<Customer> Customers
    {
        get
        {
            return _customers;                 
        }
        set
        {
            _customers = value; 
            Set(() => Customers, ref _customers, value);                 
        }
    }

    public Customer SelectedCustomer
    {
        get
        {
            return _selectedCustomer;
        }
        set
        {
            _selectedCustomer = value;
            
            Set(() => SelectedCustomer, ref _selectedCustomer, value);

            MatureTitlesFeature = new MatureTitleSelectionFeature(SelectedCustomer);
        }
    }

    public IFeatureToggle MatureTitlesFeature
    {
        get
        {
            return _matureTitlesFeature;
        }
        set
        {
            _matureTitlesFeature = value;

            Set(() => MatureTitlesFeature, ref _matureTitlesFeature, value);
        }
    }
}

Here, every time the selected customer changes, a new (immutable) toggle is created based on the customer’s details, i.e. Age.

The visibility in the UI of mature titles is simple data binding, using a visibility convertor from FeatureToggle.WPFExtensions.

<Window x:Class="CustomFeatureToggle.MainWindow"
        xmlns="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml/presentation"
        xmlns:x="http://schemas.microsoft.com/winfx/2006/xaml"
        xmlns:toggles="clr-namespace:FeatureToggle.Toggles;assembly=FeatureToggle.WpfExtensions"
        Title="MainWindow" Height="350" Width="525">
    <Window.Resources>
        <toggles:FeatureToggleToVisibilityConverter x:Key="ToggleVisConverter"></toggles:FeatureToggleToVisibilityConverter>
    </Window.Resources>
    <Grid>
        <StackPanel>
            <ComboBox DisplayMemberPath="Name" 
                      ItemsSource="{Binding Customers, Mode=TwoWay}"
                      SelectedItem="{Binding SelectedCustomer}"></ComboBox>
            <TextBlock>All audience titles here</TextBlock>
            <TextBlock Visibility="{Binding MatureTitlesFeature, Converter={StaticResource ToggleVisConverter}, Mode=TwoWay}">Mature titles here</TextBlock>
        </StackPanel>
    </Grid>
</Window>

I’m wondering how this approach would scale out for larger apps.

screenshot showing mature visible

 

screenshot showing mature invisible

FeatureToggle 2.1 Released

Version 2.1 of my open source feature toggling library has just been released.

This new version contains two new toggles.

The RandomFeatureToggle as its name suggests will randomly enable/disable a feature.

The EnabledOnDaysOfWeekFeatureToggle allows configuration of a toggle to become enabled on specific weekdays.

 

Check out the documentation and release notes for more info.