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Using Remote Configuration for Feature Flagging: The More Powerful Way to Feature Flag

Feature Flagging

Feature flagging is a critical tool in software development; it enables teams to release features conditionally, without deploying new code. Traditionally, feature flagging has relied on simple key:value pairs to toggle features on or off. However, with a modern remote configuration platform developers and teams can go much further; go beyond mere toggling to dynamically control and fine-tune application functionality.

The Evolution of Feature Flags

Feature flags traditionally acted as simple switches. For instance, a boolean flag could control whether a new user interface is visible to users. This approach, while effective, offers limited flexibility. Enter remote configuration, a more advanced technique that empowers developers with greater control.

With remote configuration, you’re not just turning features on or off; you’re adjusting them in real-time based on complex criteria and metadata. This capability opens up possibilities like gradually rolling out a feature, customizing features for different user segments, or testing multiple variations of a feature simultaneously.

Using Remote Configuration for Feature Flagging in Action

To understand the power of remote configuration with feature flags, let’s consider a practical example using the Joystick SDK.

// Import the Joystick Remote Configuration package.
import { Joystick } from "@getjoystick/joystick-js";

// Initialize a remote configuration client with a Joystick API Key
const joystickClient = new Joystick({
    apiKey: process.env.JOYSTICK_API_KEY,

async function myNewFeatureA(options) {
    // See the 'feature-flags-config' example.
    // {
    //    "color": "green",
    //    "size": 100,
    //    "bold": true,
    //    "text": "Use Remote Configuration!"
    // }

// Get the Feature Flag configuration from Joystick
const featureFlagsConfig = await joystickClient.getContent("feature-flags-config");
// Note: There is cache built into the SDK, so this will make a network request
// only when the cached version is stale. You can optionally set the cache expiration 
// time when initializing, or force a network request.

if (featureFlagsConfig.newFeatureA.enabled) {
    // Call the function with options that were retrieved from Remote Configuration.
    await myNewFeatureA(featureFlagsConfig.newFeatureA.options);
    "newFeatureA": {
        "enabled": true,
        "options": {
            "color": "green",
            "size": 100,
            "bold": true,
            "text": "Use Remote Configuration!"

In this example, newFeatureA is not just a simple toggle. It contain metadata like options, which dictate how the features behave. This approach allows developers to adjust features' behavior based on the configurations fetched from the remote server, enabling a high degree of customization and control.

Advantages of Using Remote Configuration for Feature Flagging

The use of metadata in feature flags offers numerous advantages:

  • Improved User Experiences: Customize features based on user segments, geography, or other criteria. Learn about segmentation.
  • Gradual Rollouts: Adjust the scope of feature visibility based on real-time performance data.
  • Experimentation and Testing: Test multiple variations of a feature to determine which performs best. Learn about A/B testing.
  • The Platform can Grow With You: Feature flagging is inherently about simple toggles. As your app or game grows, you'll undoubtedly need more agility to update more and more aspects in real-time.

Functional and More Adaptable Software

Remote configuration offers a significant advancement in feature flagging, providing the flexibility and control necessary in modern software development. By integrating tools like Joystick, you can unleash the full potential of your applications, ensuring they are not only functional but also highly adaptable and user-centric.

Get Started with Improved Feature Flagging Using Joystick

To harness the full potential of remote configuration in your feature flagging strategy, Joystick offers an intuitive and powerful platform. Use our Quick Start Guide to get a comprehensive introduction, complete with detailed instructions and examples to get you up and running.

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