Internal Developer Platforms – Part 7: Spotify Backstage Core Functionality

Table of Contents:


As discussed in the last blog post, Backstage already comes with a lot of built-in features. It’s time to discover those functionalities. In detail, we will cover the following:

  • Backstage Search
  • Backstage Catalogue
  • Backstage Tech Docs
  • Backstage Software Templates
  • Backstage Plug-ins

Backstage Search and Backstage Catalogue

For effective management and administration of software applications, the „Software Catalog“ feature of Backstage offers a centralized system for managing internal software within a company. It serves as a comprehensive listing of all developed applications, with each software component represented by its own entry. This allows for a quick overview of the company’s software availability. Each entry can be enriched with metadata to display dependencies between software components or to define the software type. The Software Catalog also facilitates the assignment of software to specific individuals, groups, or organizational units, making it easier to identify ownership and areas of responsibility. Moreover, each software component has various tabs that provide extensive information and management tools. Additionally, Backstage’s integrated „Backstage Search“ function enables searching the Backstage ecosystem for terms, components, people, and more, with the capability to extend search to the StackOverflow platform and integrate other search engines to customize search logic according to needs.

Screenshot of a search interface from an internal developer platform, possibly Spotify Backstage, showing a search bar with the query 'how to'. The results display a variety of programming and software development related questions such as 'How do I redirect to another webpage?', 'How to modify existing, unpushed commit messages?', 'How do I force "git pull" to overwrite local files?', and 'How do I revert a Git repository to a previous commit?'. Each question is tagged with relevant programming languages and tools such as JavaScript, query, git-commit, git-rewrite-history, version-control, git-pull, git-fetch, git-checkout, and git-revert, and includes the number of answers provided and the author's name. This indicates a knowledge sharing platform where developers can find answers to common coding and version control questions within their organization.
A screenshot of the Service Catalog interface from Spotify Backstage, showing an overview of services managed within an organization. The left pane categorizes services under 'Personal' with 32 owned and 2 starred, and under 'Spotify' with all services totaling 824. The main panel lists 'Owned (32)' services that the user currently manages, including services like 'podcast-api', 'artist-lookup', and 'searcher', each associated with a system, such as podcast or artist, and tagged with the tool or language used, like Python or Websites. The lifecycle stage for all listed services is 'Production', and their status varies with indications like 'Up and running', 'Increased failure rates', or 'Deployment failed'. Each service has a description, typically 'Graphql backend for Playlist', and actions for quick access like editing settings or viewing details. The interface also displays the current time in different cities, including NYC, UTC, LON, and STO.

Backstage Tech Docs

The „TechDocs“ feature is designed to aid in the management and administration of technical documentation, offering users a centralized platform to view and provide technical documentation for software components. Documentation can be accessed either through a tab on the respective software component’s page or via a button on the sidebar. Initially, developers write the documentation in the common Markdown format, which is then rendered for the website display using the „MkDocs“ Python module by Backstage. Users have the ability to structure the documentation with a table of contents, split the documentation across multiple Markdown files, and enhance TechDocs with additional functionalities through „TechDocs Addons“.

A screenshot of a documentation webpage titled 'Backend Golden Path' within an internal development platform, likely Spotify Backstage. The page is an introduction to a series on developing and operating server-side infrastructure. The main content explains that this tutorial is the first in the series and emphasizes the importance of setting up a local environment for backend development. It notes 'Operating System Variations', indicating that the tutorials are tailored for Apple machines running macOS, with alternative instructions for Linux or Windows users mentioned in callouts. The sidebar on the right includes tags related to the content such as #backend, #apollo, and #golden-path, and a section titled 'Stack Overflow' indicating no questions found for these tags. Other sections include 'Prerequisites' and 'Support'. The page header shows the component name 'backend-golden-path', the site owner 'pulp-fiction', the page owner 'fabric', and indicates the page was last updated a month ago. The top contributors are also acknowledged, symbolizing a collaborative documentation environment.

Backstage Software Templates

„Software Templates“ provide a smart way for creating new software or infrastructure components. Users are guided through the creation process with a pre-made template, where they can configure the component at each step by entering parameters, culminating in its creation with a simple button click. The output generated by the template is determined by its creator and can vary, including loading skeleton code, creating a new Git repository, or writing input parameters to a file. Additionally, there’s an option to register the newly created component in the Software Catalog. The process can be further customized to meet specific requirements by writing custom template actions, allowing organizations to establish standards and best practices for the creation of certain components.

A screenshot of a user interface from an internal development platform titled 'Create a New Component', showing a selection of available templates for software development. The 'Available Templates' section highlights 'Recommended' templates, including 'Documentation Template', 'React SSR Template', and 'Spring Boot gRPC Service'. Each template has a brief description, the owner (, and associated tags like 'recommended', 'techdocs', 'mkdocs', 'website', 'react', 'service', 'java', and 'gRPC'. Below, in the 'Other Templates' section, more options are shown such as 'Create React App Template' and 'Pull Request Action Template'. The interface is designed for easy navigation, with categories and tags on the left for filtering the templates, and prominent 'Choose' buttons for template selection. A sidebar includes options for registering an existing component and seeking support, illustrating a comprehensive tool for managing and scaffolding software projects within the organization.

Integrations and Plugins

Backstage facilitates the integration of external platforms and cloud providers onto a unified platform, leveraging various services that use external providers for storing or publishing Backstage-specific content. For example, the Backstage Software Catalog can access external providers like GitHub to extract relevant information from YAML files, necessary for incorporating software components into the Software Catalog. Fundamentally, Backstage operates as a „single-page“ application, providing a technical framework in which various plugins, implementing desired functionalities, operate. These plugins, including „Core-Features“ provided by default installed plugins, can be extended with additional services via 3rd-party plugins available on the Marketplace. This Marketplace, accessible through the Backstage website, features plugins developed by Spotify, other organizations, or individuals, offering over 134 plugins across categories like „CI/CD,“ „Monitoring,“ „Infrastructure,“ or „Deployment.“ Plugins are typically installed using a package manager like npm, and by manually adding code to Backstage’s source code, integrating them into the existing tooling environment. Examples from the Marketplace include „Scaffolder Git Actions“ Hill or „Argo CD“. While plugins available in the Marketplace are generally free, Spotify also offers „Premium-Plugins“ as part of a paid subscription, developed by Spotify developers and supported officially by Spotify, such as the „Role-Based-Access-Control (RBAC)“ or „Soundcheck“ plugins.

A screenshot of the Backstage platform's plugin marketplace. The marketplace showcases a grid of plugin cards against a dark background, each card representing a different plugin with a distinct icon, title, and brief description. Examples include 'APIs with 3scale' by Red Hat for synchronizing 3scale content, 'Architecture Decision Records' by Phil Kuang for browsing project ADRs, and 'AI Assistant - RAG AI' marked as new, for querying language models with contextual information. Others include 'Allure Reports' by Deepak Bhardwaj for viewing reports, various analytics modules like Google Analytics by Spotify, Matomo Analytics by Red Hat, and Quantum Metric for tracking usage, along with monitoring tools such as 'Airbrake' by Simply Business. Additional plugins featured are 'Announcements' by procore-oss for writing and sharing announcements, 'API Docs' by SDA SE for API discovery, 'API Linter' by Zalando for compliance checking, and 'API SDK Generator' by Konfig for SDK generation. Each card has an 'Explore' button, facilitating easy access to the plugin details and installation options. The overall layout is user-friendly and informative, aiming to enhance the development environment with various integrations and tools.


Dr. Guido Söldner


Guido Söldner ist Geschäftsführer und Principal Consultant bei Söldner Consult. Sein Themenfeld umfasst Cloud Infrastruktur, Automatisierung und DevOps, Kubernetes, Machine Learning und Enterprise Programmierung mit Spring.