5 min Applications

LaunchDarkly shines light on next era of DevOps 

LaunchDarkly shines light on next era of DevOps 

With Halloween upon us tomorrow, we have appropriately heard from the spookily named LaunchDarkly, a software company the specialises in delivering a feature management platform with combined DevOps tools now being powered by an increasing amount of automation. The company can be described as SaaS platform for developers to manage feature flags – and as we know, feature flags are a software application development concept that allows developers to enable or disable a feature without modifying the source code or requiring a redeploy. 

“They [feature flags] are also commonly referred to as feature toggles, release toggles or feature flippers. Feature flags determine at runtime which portions of code are executed. This allows new features to be deployed without making them visible to users or, even more importantly, you can make them visible to only a specific subset of users,” explained Brian Rinaldi, developer experience engineer at LaunchDarkly.

Why is it called LaunchDarkly?

… and, if you had been wondering, that ‘deploy without visibility’ element is obviously why LaunchDarkly is called LaunchDarkly.

The company’s Galaxy product release is now with us and this is intended to help engineers across every aspect of software release from progressive rollouts to product experimentation, measurement, mobile development and release targeting. The improvements build on the lessons learned from DevOps by connecting back to the way users actually experience applications. 

While the DevOps era has spawned innovation ranging from Continous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD), automated testing and Agile planning, the struggle to connect the innovations built through application development to the ways that customers experience those applications remains a challenge. 

“The DevOps movement created years ago created an entirely new way to build software, yet there are still holes when it comes to the way customers interact with and experience applications today,” said Dan Rogers, CEO at LaunchDarkly. “With the Galaxy Product Release, LaunchDarkly hopes to provide engineering teams with a North Star that will solve these gaps.”  

The next frontier of DevOps?

The LaunchDarkly platform was built to guide engineers to what the company hopes (and claims) will be ‘the next frontier’ of DevOps by improving the velocity and stability of software releases, without the fear of end customer outages.

While that’s hardly the next frontier and rather just sounds like ‘DevOps that works quite well’, there are extensions to this platform here that may represent something newer i.e. it also works to deliver targeted experiences by easily personalising features to specific customer/user cohorts – kind of like a group customisation exercise designed to deliver apps in a certain way for a defined group of individuals. The company says that this helps maximise the business impact of every feature through the ability to experiment and optimise – it also helps in coordinating the release and optimisation of software to provide consistent experiences across mobile platforms and device types.

The Galaxy Product Release includes an engineering insights hub to help engineering leaders track velocity and quality metrics that show measurable progress. There are also new capabilities to release stable features faster including Release Assistant, to build pre-defined, repeatable paths for progressive rollouts, alongside Release Guardian, which allows teams to identify and remediate operational regressions.

Mobile liberation situation

A migration assistant reduces the risk of a migration such as an outage, data loss or latency, while maintaining data consistency between data store – and a segment builder works to target customer groups with specific experiences through functionality that will sync and manage segments from existing data sources. Finally, there is also mobile release optimisation here to liberate mobile releases from app store processes and manage the full lifecycle of apps.

LaunchDarkly has also made note of several technology integration partners in conjunction with its Galaxy Product Release. LaunchDarkly is collaborating with an initial set of technology companies with the aim of helping to drive more efficient developer workflows.

Partner parade

The company has has made its experimentation data available for direct access to joint customers via Snowflake Marketplace with the aim of enabling users to stream LaunchDarkly feature events into Snowflake’s platform for additional analysis of the business impact of development efforts based on warehoused data. Using LaunchDarkly, customer data in Twilio Segment can be activated and used to power targeted experiences, ensuring that updates and product changes reach the right audience.

Over at GitHub, developers can power their GitHub Action’s workflows using LaunchDarkly to automatically create conditional controls, giving them visibility into which feature flags were modified as part of a pull request making reference and code cleanup easy. Combining Sentry errors and LaunchDarkly, developers can roll back and disable features that have a regression, enabling developers to react to escalated error counts before they affect customer experience. Integrating with Bitrise unlocks greater visibility into new mobile app versions before the app store approval process is complete, enabling developers to start planning mobile release targeting before their users see the latest version of their app.