When it comes to modern software development, there are three guiding principles:

  • Speed

  • Agility

  • Efficiency

Trunk-based development (TBD) is a core part of these principles, enabling DevOps teams to collaborate efficiently and ship features faster.

In this article, we will explore the concept of TBD and how it dovetails with feature flagging, facilitating a seamless DevOps workflow.

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What Is Trunk-Based Development?

Trunk-based development is a source code management strategy where developers work on a single branch, the 'trunk'. Let’s break down how it works:

Developers create short-lived branches from the “trunk” and make changes before merging them back into the trunk swiftly. This process can often multiple times a day.

The trunk remains in a shippable state, which fosters continuous integration and delivery.

TBD promotes quick iterations and helps to reduce the complexity of merging branches and maintaining codebase health.

TBD & DevOps: A Match Made In Heaven

In a DevOps environment, teams seek to merge the efforts of development and operations to achieve seamless software delivery.

TBD bolsters this by enabling continuous integration and delivery.

The development process ensures code changes are regularly tested and validated.

This can help to reduce integration issues and enable faster error detection.

The trunk's always-releasable state also facilitates continuous deployment, allowing immediate releases of new features and fixes.

As a result, TBD is a powerful tool for DevOps, making agile and efficient software delivery a reality.

Feature Flagging Can Support TBD's Effectiveness

Feature flagging, also known as feature toggling, involves enclosing new code within 'flags'.

This allows DevOps teams to enable and disable features instantly, providing control over feature rollouts.

When a feature isn’t working as intended, you can roll it back immediately without affecting the rest of the codebase.

Here are the two key benefits of feature flags in trunk-based development:

Risk Mitigation

Using feature flags, teams can merge incomplete features into the trunk without affecting production.

This allows for testing and iterative development, reducing the risk of release failures.

Accelerated Feedback Cycle

Flagged features can be rolled out to a subset of users, providing early feedback and helping improve the feature before a broad release.

This combination allows DevOps teams to carry out testing in production. A strategy like this can provide realistic feedback and help uncover issues traditional testing environments may miss. This greatly enhances the reliability and quality of the software.

ConfigCat is a feature flag service that takes 10 minutes to learn.
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Trunk-Based Development: Closing Thoughts

Trunk-based development, combined with feature flagging, offers a robust approach for DevOps teams to develop, test, and deploy software quickly and efficiently.

TBD not only mitigates the risks associated with software releases but also enhances the user experience by enabling gradual feature rollouts and quick rollbacks.

DevOps teams can use these strategies to foster an agile and robust software development process, propelling them toward an efficient and innovative future.

If you are looking for a robust feature flagging solution, ConfigCat is well-equipped to meet your needs. Take ConfigCat for a test drive today.

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Using feature flags in your CI/CD pipelines

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