eBay is committed to open source software, and as part of that commitment is pleased to join other industry leaders in submitting OpenFeature to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation’s sandbox program.
OpenFeature allows application developers to add feature flags into their code without being tied to any particular vendor. This allows common open source tooling to add feature flagging functionality in much the same way that the OpenTelemetry project has done for metrics and observability. For eBay, this adds up to speed and safety.
Feature flagging is a mechanism that allows product delivery teams to alter application functionality at runtime without having to deploy code. From a code perspective, this looks as simple as an if statement. Behind the scenes, we can run evaluate logic to determine whether that if statement is true or false (or integers, strings or more). The evaluation of application or user context and the associated rules are handled by the various backend vendors. The logic and context can be combined in surprisingly useful ways like “release this to 1 percent of U.S. customers” or “show this feature to customers who have recently created their account.” OpenFeature sits on top of this logic backend, providing a common interface for developers to interact with. Together, they allow us to safely deliver features to smaller audiences and increase exposure as we gain confidence in our releases.
As part of eBay’s tech-led reimagination, we are investing heavily in improving software delivery so that we can launch features more rapidly and safely to our customers. Over the past few months, we have been developing feature flagging capabilities internally, powered by OpenFeature. Being able to alter runtime behavior without deploying means we can quickly mitigate issues, enable features for subsets of production users or perform A/B style feature tests. Separating code deployment from feature releases also allows teams to practice trunk-based development, a core capability in Continuous Delivery. Research shows that this development practice drives higher software delivery and organizational performance.
As a company, we believe that the future of technology – both internally and across the industry – is rooted in open source technology and cloud-native workflows. eBay is thrilled to participate on both fronts by contributing to OpenFeature through both code contributors as well as project governance.
OpenFeature welcomes feedback and help. To learn more about the project or to become a contributor, visit https://github.com/open-feature/community/blob/main/interested-parties.md