Backstage: an Open-Source Developer Portal
A deepdive into what Backstage is, why it is gaining rapid popularity across large tech companies, and alternatives to it.
Over the last year, I have talked with software engineers at a variety of companies (Netflix, Grab, Wealthsimple, QuintoAndar, Wayfair). They all kept mentioning the same tool name: Backstage. All these companies were either planning, or in the process of adopting, Backstage as their developer portal.
After looking further, I observed that, although only released in 2020 in public, Backstage has seen surprisingly large adoption at larger tech companies. Other adopters include American Airlines, Booking.com, Brex, DAZN, Epic Games, Expedia, Glovo, HelloFresh, Monzo, PagerDuty, Splunk, Siemens, Trendyol, Twilio VMware, Wise, and hundreds of others.
I decided to look more into this topic. To do so, I initially contacted the most well-known Backstage SaaS provider, Roadie, for their insights, talked with an engineer from the team which created Backstage, and got in touch with Backstage adopters.
In this issue, we cover:
The need for a developer portal. Why do tech companies need a developer portal, and at what stage does this become necessary?
The history of Backstage. How did it start, and where is it today?
What is Backstage, and how does it work? An overview of the main parts: the software catalog, software templates, TechDocs, and other plugins.
Why was Backstage open sourced? Backstage could be considered a competitive advantage for Spotify. Why did they open source it?
Spotify’s version of Backstage. Spotify operates arguably the most advanced version of Backstage. What additional features have they built, and how do they use their developer portal?
Getting started with Backstage. How do you adopt the tool? A case study from RD Station and advice from Roadie.
Alternatives to Backstage. If you’re looking for a developer portal, what other alternatives do you have? A brief overview of Cortex, OpsLevel, Port, Clutch and Hygieia.
Further insights into developer portals. A follow-up to the original article.
This issue mentions several vendors related to developer portals. As per my ethics policy, I strive to provide an independent viewpoint, not taking any form of payment or another incentive to mention - or omit - any company, vendor, or topic. I disclose any conflicts of interest and affiliations, should I have them. I have no affiliations with any vendors mentioned in this article and no conflicts of interest.