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Favor Feature Toggles over Feature Branches

As you may be aware, our development process at Pluralsight is a kanban style of agile. We limit our work in progress so that we can maximize the flow of new features into production. When you combine this with our focus on automated testing, use of a continuous integration server, a distributed source control system, and single click deploy/rollback, the result is continuous delivery. Even with a fairly small team, we almost always deploy new features more than once a week and occasionally two or three times in a single day.

Because of this style of development, we occasionally saw the Big Scary Merge described by Martin Fowler. As a team, we value continuous improvement, so we researched ways to address problems of merging when working on feature branches. So despite some skepticism, we have been experimenting with feature toggles. Many developers are familiar with the term, but there are few examples of how it is done, so allow me to share how we do it in our ASP.NET MVC web site.