Unleash 4.18: Direct client-side front-end API access, sync user groups, and clone environments

Unleash 4.18 is out, and with it comes a bunch of new features. One of the features we’re most excited about is direct client-side access to a front-end API. Read on to find out why.

Connect directly with your front end, without a proxy

Note: With this new feature comes updates to both our fair use policy and DPA. Nothing big. Still, it’s a good idea to look over the updates when you have the chance.

Before Unleash 4.18, connecting a front-end client to Unleash used to require multiple steps:

  1. Create a client key in the control panel.
  2. Start the Unleash Proxy.
  3. Verify that you used the right key. 

On top of that, you had to keep track of the proxy access key and share it with your front-end clients. 

The new process takes just two steps:

  1. Create a new frontend SDK token in the Unleash API token section. 
  2. Connect your client side SDK to Unleash with your frontend token. 

What this means is that you no longer need to host your own proxy to get started with Unleash on the client side.

There may still be good reasons for using the Unleash proxy (see below), but the introduction of this API should reduce a lot of the friction to get started with client side feature toggling. With Unleash 4.18, you can finally do away with some high barriers of entry to client side feature flagging.

Note: Before 4.18, using a proxy was the only way to propagate feature flags to the client side. This means all of our client side SDKs will continue to have “proxy” in their name. For example: unleash-proxy-client.

When to keep using a proxy

The new frontend API has a number of clear advantages. It gets you up and running quickly, it does not need a separate process, and it will support multiple environments and projects in the same process. 

That said, there may be situations where using a proxy still makes sense.

When you expect high amount of user traffic

The client side tends to send a lot more requests towards the Unleash API. This is natural, as each instantiation of the SDK happens in the browser. 

If you have a hundred visitors to your website using Unleash, the SDK will ask for feature flags 100 times. Depending on your refresh interval and traffic, that might accumulate to a lot of traffic. 

The advantage of using a  proxy is that it is easily scalable to meet a high traffic demand. As the proxy is a stateless server, you can easily scale it out horizontally without any dependencies, saving precious load on the Unleash database. 

When you host multiple proxies

Another benefit of our proxy is that you can host multiple proxies close to your users. You may have users all over the world, and you can place your proxies close to where your users are.

The proxy does however require a new process for each environment/project combination you want to grant access to, which, in a complicated setup. could mean you need to configure lots of proxies.

Basically, if you need to accommodate a lot of requests per second, you should probably still take the time to set up a proxy to avoid overloading Unleash. 

Want to dive deep on what this new feature can do? Check out our awesome documentation.

Sync User Groups via SSO

You can now map groups from your SSO provider to groups in Unleash! 

This means you no longer need to add individual users in projects. Simply add and remove users to groups through you SSO provider, and Unleash will automatically update access accordingly.

Pretty great, right? Read more in our documentation.

Clone environments

Enterprise users can now clone an entire existing environment.  

You can use this clone environment for testing or duplicating projects, for simply creating a temporary environment, or for whatever use case that fits your needs. Bonus: The clone environment can generate an API token immediately.

Learn more about clone environments in our documentation.

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