Backstage is the Developer Portal Platform that has come out of Spotify and now lives under the CNCF (Cloud Native Compute Foundation) umbrella where it is one of the most popular and active projects. Backstage provides a framework an starting point for what typically evolves into your highly customised developer portal – configured in the way that makes sense for the teams in your organization. Backstage provides the backbone and plugin mechanism – and a number of generic and essential features – for developer portals.
How to quickly try out Backstage? Well, the quickest way to see a sample Backstage environment is through the public demo that can be accessed here.
The demo is quite limited – because you cannot add or edit information nor install plugins. If you want more, you can install your own instance of Backstage. This article provides instructions for creating your Backstage instance in a Gitpod workspace – a Cloud Development Environment. This environment has a well defined, clean starting point so these instructions do not depend on your accidental local configuration. Additionally, Backstage is installed in a cloud workspace – not impacting your laptop at all. No hassling with VMs or containers, no cleanup after your explorations. Gitpod provides a clean, straightforward approach to trying out software – such as Backstage.
Install and Run your Backstage Instance in a Cloud Development Environment
Open a new Gitpod Workspace based on the definition provided in this GitHub Repository.
You can open this URL to straightaway open a workspace including VS Code in your browser and the instructions to get going that are also shown below. When the workspace starts, it will install and launch the Backstage instance. This process takes up to 2 minutes (lots of yarn install actions)
Then the browser preview window will show up – including two warnings:
The Backstage frontend app accesses the backend API at localhost port 7007 and this reference does not work in the Gitpod cloud side/browser based approach (look for example at the location bar for the URL used for the Backstage frontend running at localhost port 3000. In order to run the Backstage instance properly, you need to open the Gitpod workspace in local VS Code Desktop and use local port forwarding. .
That means that you need to open the workspace in VS Code Desktop (your local VS Code) and this port (7007) must both be forwarded and made public. Detailed instructions for opening the Gitpod workspace in local VS Code Desktop are available on this page – scroll down to the heading Open Gitpod Workspace in local VS Code Desktop)
When the workspace is open in VS Code desktop, check and configure Port 7007.
You should now find your Developer Portal in good working order. Explore around – see what it has to offer in its bare, default form.
Then you could start extending and fine tuning. Add some plugins, change the configuration of the portal as it currently stands. Note: to make changes permanent, you should consider switching the Backbase from in memory database to PostgreSQL – as described here.
See for example: Configuring Plugins
Onboarding software to Backstage: You may now want to work your way through this tutorial: Onboarding Software to Backstage
Tutorials for installing and trying out Backstage
Instead of locally installing & running Backstage, you can try out Backstage in the public demo environment: https://demo.backstage.io/catalog?filters%5Bkind%5D=component&filters%5Buser%5D=owned
Introduction Backstage for All – concepts, objectives, terminology: https://backstage.spotify.com/learn/backstage-for-all/backstage-for-all/1-introduction/
Onboarding software to Backstage: https://backstage.spotify.com/learn/onboarding-software-to-backstage/
Medium article – Backstage by Example (Part 1)
Standing up Backstage (creating your first app) – https://backstage.spotify.com/learn/standing-up-backstage/standing-up-backstage/1-intro/