October 20, 2022 5 min read

Going All In On Flipt

Mark Phelps
Hello World

Art by Alejandro Ortiz on Unsplash

The Origins of Flipt

When I started Flipt almost 4 years ago, I started it to scratch my own itch. Throughout the previous 10 years of my career as a software engineer, I noticed that every company I'd worked at that used feature flags seemed to run into similar issues.

From the outside, the idea of feature flags seems simple enough. At their most basic, they are boolean values used to make decisions in your code that can change 'remotely' at runtime. Because of this perceived simplicity, most engineering organizations that I'd been a part of had decided to roll their own solution. This usually took the form of either an internal library developed in-house or an open-source library that was integrated into the main application and added to haphazardly over the years.

This approach works fine when feature flags are used sparingly and the team and application architecture are small enough. Once the organization and architecture grow, however, the simple, in-house solutions start to show their cracks. In most cases, the solution that works when there is a monolithic application no longer scales with the move to multiple services and programming languages. As the team begins to build out more complex features that require many different moving parts and dependencies, it becomes necessary for access to feature flags to be shared between these different services and teams.

At the time, I was aware of existing solutions that aimed to solve this same problem of distributed feature flags, however, they were all mostly SaaS-based. To me, this was not an ideal solution as I believed that most teams would want to avoid the lock-in, cost, security, and latency concerns associated with these solutions. Back in 2018, gRPC was still a relatively new technology but it seemed like a promising solution for creating a reliable remote access layer that could be used to solve the above-mentioned problem of distributed access to feature flags in a multitude of programming languages.

Thus, Flipt was born, a stand-alone, self-hosted, feature flag service that allows developers to make use of feature flags in any programming language or framework while being focused on low latency and data residency from the start.

Going All In

Over these past several years, myself and an amazing group of contributors have continued to make improvements to Flipt, adding features and support for new technologies and use cases. Over this same time, I've also talked with engineers, managers, and engineering leaders that use Flipt in production at their companies, helping provide real value to their end-users.

While this has been incredibly motivating and gratifying, it's also presented a bit of a challenge to keep up with all the new things I want to support and features to add while only being able to work on Flipt in my spare time. Thankfully, I've recently been given the opportunity to be able to work on Flipt full-time and also build out a small team to help make shipping software easier and less error-prone for developers everywhere.

The software industry has also come a long way over these past several years. More and more companies have fully embraced the CloudNative software development model, which has allowed us to build systems that are more resilient and performant than ever before. There's also been an explosion of new open source projects for developers to use as building blocks for their applications, which has made it much easier to get started with many common tasks such as testing, logging and monitoring. All of this has helped to make software development a more enjoyable, productive experience. However, there's still one major area where things haven't changed as much: shipping code safely. Despite all the advances we've seen in other areas, it remains just as difficult for developers to push their code changes into production while being assured that their changes will not cause errors.

This is the area where we want to focus our efforts with Flipt. We want to make it as easy and stress-free for developers to ship software as confidently as possible, regardless of their development environment, language, or platform.

We also want to continue to stay true to the project's core principles so that Flipt:

  • Remains open-source and self-service.
  • Stays flexible enough to support various modes of experimentation.
  • Is seamless to configure and secure in modern cloud environments.
  • Fits into your existing stack.
  • Continues to be fast and consistent.

Looking Forward

We're working on some really exciting features right now that we'll be releasing over the next few months, so keep an eye out for those!

I'm incredibly excited to take on this new challenge, embrace this opportunity, and build a team of like-minded individuals who are passionate about shipping code safely and securely.

Takeaway: We want to build the future of modern software deployment mechanisms, and we'd love to have you along for the ride. Flipt is not going anywhere and will remain open-source and community-driven. We are committed to making Flipt even better and would love your help! Please join us on our GitHub and in our Discord to learn more and help build the future of Flipt.

Thank you for your support, and we can't wait to see what you build with Flipt!