The pressure to release application features faster to meet the demands of customers presents a number of challenges, including unforeseen deployment delays, custom feature sets, and complex rollbacks when errors occur. To overcome these challenges, developers can use Flagsmith, an open source feature flagging and remote configuration service that allows developers to easily roll out and test new features for a specific subset of users. With Flagsmith, developers don’t have to worry about deploying new code to test features, and instead can wrap existing code within a feature flag across web, mobile, and server-side applications that can then be toggled on and off from the Flagsmith UI. However, troubleshooting issues caused by feature flags can be difficult without the proper visibility.
We are pleased to partner with Flagsmith to offer an out-of-the-box Flagsmith Datadog App, integration, and software license via the Datadog Marketplace, so that you can track the status of feature flags and record flag events as audit logs to more easily determine whether an issue arose due to recently launched features. Additionally, Datadog now supports enriching Real User Monitoring (RUM) telemetry with data collected from Flagsmith, enabling you to quickly investigate an emergent issue associated with a newly released feature without needing to navigate between two services.
In this post, we’ll look at how Flagsmith’s out-of-the-box dashboards, audit logs, and compatibility with Datadog RUM enable you to track feature flags and monitor their impact on the rest of your application—all within a single, unified monitoring platform.
The Flagsmith App provides you with an out-of-the-box dashboard widget that lists the feature flags you’ve deployed across your application environments and states whether they have been toggled on or off.
Adding a Flagsmith widget to a business overview or RUM dashboard can help you determine whether a feature is negatively impacting the health and performance of your application. Let’s say you are running an ecommerce site and receive a KPI alert notifying you of a spike in checkout failures. If you see that your Flagsmith widget shows that a feature flag for an updated checkout button was recently toggled on, it could be that the feature flag is behind the issue. Once you have identified a problematic flag, you can quickly navigate to Flagsmith to roll it back and mitigate the issue before redeploying the feature.
The Flagsmith App also tracks changes you make to your feature flags and records those changes as audit logs that can be viewed within a Datadog event stream. This means that alongside an overview of your feature flags, you can see granular details such as when flag updates occurred, what those updates changed, and who was behind them. You can also create a monitor and set alerts on these incoming audit logs to notify you when a flag has been updated or deleted. If you are notified that a flag has been modified, you can jump to the associated audit log to see who made the change to verify that the update was expected, and then pivot to the Flagsmith UI to toggle the feature flag as needed.
Datadog Real User Monitoring (RUM) provides end-to-end visibility into the real-time activity and experience of individual users to help you better understand how your application is performing. You can now easily enrich RUM telemetry with feature flag data reported by Flagsmith for deeper visibility into user sessions so that you have the context to monitor feature releases and troubleshoot more efficiently. Let’s say you start seeing user sessions with high error counts or frustration signals within the RUM view. Because the Flagsmith Datadog integration will tag RUM telemetry with feature flag data, you can click on the user sessions of interest to see all of the feature flags that were enabled during that session. This way, you’ll know if a given feature flag—such as a newly released checkout button that isn’t registering clicks—is associated with a particular issue so that you can then toggle the flag off and prevent further negatively impacting the end user experience.
The Flagsmith offerings across Datadog enable you to release features faster by correlating the health and performance of your application with the status of your feature flags to help you determine whether a newly enabled feature is degrading the end user experience. Combining Flagsmith’s feature management capabilities with Datadog’s real-time monitoring and end-to-end visibility makes it easier to detect issues and improve overall application performance.
You can get started by purchasing a Flagsmith software license through the Datadog Marketplace and installing their out-of-the-box integration. If you aren’t already a Datadog user, you can learn more about the Marketplace in our blog post and sign up today for a 14-day free trial.
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