To get set up quickly with your own Backstage project you can create a Backstage App.
A Backstage App is a monorepo setup with
lerna that includes everything you
need to run Backstage in your own environment.
Create an app
To create a Backstage app, you will need to have Node.js Active LTS Release installed (currently v14).
Backstage provides a utility for creating new apps. It guides you through the initial setup of selecting the name of the app and a database for the backend. The database options are either SQLite or PostgreSQL, where the latter requires you to set up a separate database instance. If in doubt, choose SQLite, but don't worry about the choice, it's easy to change later!
The easiest way to run the create app package is with
This will create a new Backstage App inside the current folder. The name of the app-folder is the name that was provided when prompted.
Inside that directory, it will generate all the files and folder structure needed for you to run your app.
Linking in local Backstage packages
It can often be useful to try out changes to the packages in the main Backstage
repo within your own app. For example if you want to make modifications to
@backstage/core and try them out in your app.
To link in external packages, add them to your
workspace paths. These can be either relative or absolute paths with or without
globs. For example:
"packages": [ "packages/*", "plugins/*", "../backstage/packages/core", // New path added to work on @backstage/core ],
Then reinstall packages to make yarn set up symlinks:
With this in place you can now modify the
@backstage/core package within the
main repo, and have those changes be reflected and tested in your app. Simply
run your app using
yarn start as normal.
Note that for backend packages you need to make sure that linked packages are
not dependencies of any non-linked package. If you for example want to work on
@backstage/backend-common, you need to also link in other backend plugins and
packages that depend on
@backstage/backend-common, or temporarily disable
those plugins in your backend. This is because the transformation of backend
module tree stops whenever a non-local package is encountered, and from that
point node will
require packages directly for that entire module subtree.
Type checking can also have issues when linking in external packages, since the
linked in packages will use the types in the external project and dependency
version mismatches between the two projects may cause errors. To fix any of
those errors you need to sync versions of the dependencies in the two projects.
A simple way to do this can be to copy over
yarn.lock from the external
project and run
yarn install, although this is quite intrusive and can cause
other issues in existing projects, so use this method with care. It can often be
best to simply ignore the type errors, as app serving will work just fine
Another issue with type checking is that the incremental type cache doesn't
invalidate correctly for the linked in packages, causing type checking to not
reflect changes made to types. You can work around this by either setting
compilerOptions.incremental = false in
tsconfig.json, or by deleting the
types cache folder
dist-types before running
The create app command doesn't always work as expected, this is a collection of some of the commonly encountered issues and solutions.
Couldn't find any versions for "file-saver"
You may encounter the following error message:
Couldn't find any versions for "file-saver" that matches "eligrey-FileSaver.js-1.3.8.tar.gz-art-external"
This is likely because you have a globally configured npm proxy, which breaks
the installation of the
material-table dependency. This is a known issue and
being worked on in
material-table, but for now you can work around it using
NPM_CONFIG_REGISTRY=https://registry.npmjs.org npx @backstage/create-app
Can't find Python executable "python"
The install process may also fail if no Python installation is available. Python is commonly available in most systems already, but if it isn't you can head for example here to install it.
General folder structure
Below is a simplified layout of the files and folders generated when creating an app.
app ├── app-config.yaml ├── catalog-info.yaml ├── lerna.json ├── package.json └── packages ├── app └── backend
- app-config.yaml: Main configuration file for the app. See Configuration for more information.
- catalog-info.yaml: Catalog Entities descriptors. See Descriptor Format of Catalog Entities to get started.
- lerna.json: Contains information about workspaces and other lerna configuration needed for the monorepo setup.
- package.json: Root package.json for the project. Note: Be sure that you don't add any npm dependencies here as they probably should be installed in the intended workspace rather than in the root.
- packages/: Lerna leaf packages or "workspaces". Everything here is going to be a separate package, managed by lerna.
- packages/app/: An fully functioning Backstage frontend app, that acts as a good starting point for you to get to know Backstage.
- packages/backend/: We include a backend that helps power features such as Authentication, Software Catalog, Software Templates and TechDocs amongst other things.
Run the app
When the installation is complete you can open the app folder and start the app.
cd my-backstage-app yarn start
yarn start is ready it should open up a browser window displaying your
app, if not you can navigate to
In most cases you will want to start the backend as well, as it is required for the catalog to work, along with many other plugins.
To start the backend, open a separate terminal session and run the following in the root directory:
yarn workspace backend start
Now you're free to hack away on your own Backstage installation!