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Feature Toggle Types

This feature was introduced in Unleash v3.5.0.

You can use feature toggles to support different use cases, each with their own specific needs. Heavily inspired by Pete Hodgson's article on feature toggles, Unleash introduced the concept of feature toggle types in version 3.5.0.

A feature toggle's type affects only two things:

  1. It gives the toggle an appropriate icon
  2. The toggle's expected lifetime changes

Aside from this, there are no differences between the toggle types and you can always change the type of a toggle after you have created it.

Classifying feature toggles by their type makes it easier for you manage them: the toggles get different icons in the toggle list and you can sort the toggles by their types.

Five feature toggles, each of a different type, showing the different icons that Unleash uses for each toggle type.

A toggle's type also helps Unleash understand the toggle's expected lifetime.

Feature toggle types

Here's the list of the feature toggle types that Unleash supports together with their intended use case and expected lifetime:

Feature toggle typeUsed to ...Expected lifetime
ReleaseEnable trunk-based development for teams practicing Continuous Delivery.40 days
ExperimentPerform multivariate or A/B testing.40 days
OperationalControl operational aspects of the system's behavior.7 days
Kill switchGracefully degrade system functionality. You can read about kill switch best practices on our blog.Permanent
PermissionChange the features or product experience that certain users receive.Permanent

Expected lifetimes


The ability to update a feature toggle type's expected lifetime is currently in development. We expect to release it in one of the upcoming releases.

A feature toggle's expected lifetime is an indicator of how long Unleash expects toggles of that type to be around. Some feature toggles are meant to live for a few weeks as you work on new functionality, while others stick around for much longer. As a part of good code hygiene, you should clean up your feature toggles when they have served their purpose. This is further explored in the document on technical debt.

Each feature toggle type in Unleash has an assigned expected lifetime, after which the system will consider this feature potentially stale. The reasoning behind each type's expected lifetime is detailed in this blog post on best practices for feature toggle lifetimes.

Unleash admins can change the expected lifetime of Unleash's feature types from the Unleash configuration menu.

Deprecating feature toggles

You can mark feature toggles as stale. This is a way to deprecate a feature toggle without removing the active configuration for connected applications. Use this to signal that you should stop using the feature in your applications. Stale toggles will show as stale in the "technical debt dashboard".

When you mark a toggle as stale, Unleash will emit an event. You can use an integration to integrate this with your systems, for instance to post a message in a Slack channel.

Additionally, with some extra work, you can also use the stale property to:

  • Inform developers that a toggle is stale while they're developing.
  • Break a project build if the code contains stale feature toggles.
  • Send automatic PRs to remove usage of toggles that have served their purpose.