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Migrating away from @backstage/core

The @backstage/core package has been split into three separate packages, @backstage/core-app-api, @backstage/core-plugin-api, and @backstage/core-components. For more information about the reasoning behind this change and the naming of the packages, see the original RFC and initial PR.

The main purpose of the split is to make plugins more decoupled from the app, and open up for the possibility of combining plugins using many different versions of the core libraries. This should significantly reduce the maintenance burden on plugin authors, as well as reduce the impact of breaking changes in the core APIs.


At a high level the migration is done by simply replacing usages of @backstage/core with one or more of the three new core libraries. There are a few breaking changes in the new packages that are listed below, but for most plugins the migration is a simple replacement. In order to make the migration as smooth as possible we provide a collection of tools to automate the majority of the migration effort.

Below is a list of steps that should get most projects completely migrated, the order of the steps is a recommendation but not required, so don't worry if you need to go back to previous steps to fix things.

Step 1 - Run codemod

The first step is to run @backstage/codemods across your project. This will automatically convert all module imports in your source code to use one of the three new core packages instead. For example, the following change might occur:

import { useApi, configApiRef, InfoCard } from '@backstage/core';
import { useApi, configApiRef } from '@backstage/core-plugin-api';
import { InfoCard } from '@backstage/core-components';

In a typical app created with @backstage/create-app, you would run the following:

npx @backstage/codemods apply core-imports packages plugins

The last two arguments, packages and plugins, are the folders that the codemod should be applied to. Add or remove folders as needed for your project.

The codemod might fail for some files because of the missing IconKey type in any of the new packages. This is one of the few breaking changes. To fix, remove any IconKey imports and replace usages of it with the string type, see the breaking changes section below for details. Once usages of IconKey type have been removed, you can re-run the codemod for those files.

Note that while the codemod tries to stick to using the existing formatting in your project, it doesn't always manage to do that. If you're using prettier to format the code in your project, it's best to run prettier --write on any files that were changed by the codemod.

Step 2 - Update dependencies

The next step is to update dependencies in your package.json files. Any package that currently depends on @backstage/core will need to have it replaced by one or more of the new packages. The app package should have all three packages added to dependencies, while for plugins and additional non-app packages, the @backstage/core-plugin-api and @backstage/core-components packages should be added to the set of regular dependencies, and @backstage/core-app-api should be added to devDependencies for usage in tests.

A tool that can help out with step is the plugin:diff command from the @backstage/cli, it will compare your plugin to the base plugin template and suggest changes where the plugin deviates. A quick way to get this step done if you have up-to-date project is to run the following in the project root:

# The --yes flag causes all suggested changes to be accepted automatically
yarn diff --yes

If you do not have the diff command set up in package.json, you can also manually execute the following in each plugin folder:

yarn backstage-cli plugin:diff --yes

Step 3 - Manual review

At this point your app is either completely or very close to being migrated. Run type checks with yarn tsc to check if you hit any of the breaking changes below or if there are any other things to fix. It can also be worthwhile searching for occurrences of @backstage/core in the codebase, as that might find usages in for example jest mock calls, which aren't handled by the codemod.

As a final step you'll want to boot up the app and take it through any regular verification step that you have set up for your project. Don't hesitate to open a GitHub issue, PR, or reach out on Discord if you hit any snags, or if there are any additional steps or hints that you think should be added to this guide!

Breaking Changes

The following is a list of breaking changes between @backstage/core and the three new core packages. Not that this list may not be exhaustive depending on when you migrate your app, as new releases of the new core packages may bring further changes.

Removed IconKey type

The IconKey type used to be a string union of all known keys used for the app icons available through useApp().getSystemIcon(key). The type has been removed since the set of allowed icon keys is no longer constrained, and there is instead only a guarantee that the app provides a minimum set of icons, but can provide any icons it wants beyond that. Migration is done by simply replacing old usages by the string type.

Constrained IconComponent type

The IconComponent type used to allow all of the props from the Material UI SvgIcon. This encouraged some bad patterns in open source plugins such as applying colors to the icons, which in turn hurt the ability to replace the icons with custom ones. The IconComponent type, which is now exported from @backstage/core-plugin-api, now only accepts a fontSize prop used to set the size of the icon. The type is compatible with the Material UI SvgIcon, but there may be situations where an icon needs an explicit cast to IconComponent in order to narrow the type.