Spotify for Backstage Wrapped 2023: A year of firsts!

Emma White, Spotify
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It’s been just over a year since we launched our Spotify Plugins for Backstage bundle! 2023 has brought a lot of “firsts” 1️⃣ and milestones within the Spotify for Backstage ecosystem. We kicked off new initiatives, welcomed our first customers and partners, and so much more. In true Spotify Wrapped fashion, let’s dive into the 2023 highlight reel — and share some very cool new features released this month!

Welcome to the Bundle: Launching our offering

On December 15, 2022, we launched our bundle of five plugins designed to level up Backstage and make it more useful and powerful for the adopter community: Soundcheck, RBAC, Skill Exchange, Pulse, and Insights. These plugins bring even more of Spotify’s maturity with Backstage to our adopters and specifically help you solve ownership, drive best practices, improve decision making, and facilitate collaboration.

We hit the ground running in 2023 onboarding our very first customers — and we’ve learned a ton! We’re grateful to all our customers for jumping in with both feet and being willing to learn along with us. It’s been so gratifying and informative to dive deep on adopter challenges and early successes with the plugins – like Shutterstock’s successful hackathon with Skill Exchange!

We’ve taken all that feedback and built a roadmap to improve the plugin bundle and expand our offerings (more on that later). 📈

In addition to onboarding our first customers, we also launched the Spotify Marketplace for Backstage with CircleCI, PagerDuty, Red Hat, Snyk, VMware, and Weaveworks. With the Marketplace, we’re aiming to drive the expansion of the Backstage ecosystem, creating onramps for partners to build from the open source foundation and making it easier for adopters to find high-quality and trusted solutions.

We’re excited for our partner ecosystem to grow and believe that we can accomplish a lot together – from driving more visibility of supported Backstage plugins and solutions to building better products together for our customers.

Bright and Shiny: Working on new things

Beyond growing with our first partners and customers, we’ve been kicking off new investments and initiatives this year too under a broader Spotify for Backstage commercial umbrella. In May, we hosted our first roadmap webinar, which we plan to continue on a biannual basis as a way to bring more transparency into what we are building to the Backstage ecosystem. And our second one in October was a barn burner with sneak peeks at our contributions to the open source project and our upcoming Quickstart product.

We’ve been exploring an enterprise support model with select customers to see if Spotify can provide more structured guidance for Backstage open source adoption. We also invested in more customer-facing materials and tools to make it easier to learn about and use our plugins. In that spirit, we published monthly release notes and security documentation on our website. We’re excited to iterate and publish more resources like technical plugin documentation for customers next year.

Lastly, we heard from customers that they needed data, data…and more data! 📊 At Spotify, we’ve realized a ton of quantifiable value from Backstage over the years. In a study published this year, we highlighted gains in GitHub activity, developer efficiency, and developer retention correlated with general Backstage usage. We’ve also seen beneficial impact on the individual plugin level. For Skill Exchange, we observed that higher usage rates corresponded with increased productivity rates, velocity satisfaction rates, promotion rates, and a decrease in attrition rates. For Soundcheck, we found that just by showing our developers opportunities to improve tech health, we’ve driven a significant decrease in technology fragmentation and seen higher developer productivity rates.

In short, our plugins are working for us and we are excited to help Backstage adopters realize this value too!

Growing Up: Building new features and products

While we experienced a lot of firsts this year, we’ve made sure to continue growing and iterating along the way. We’ve put a lot of work into new plugin features and improvements.

Here’s our Big Hits playlist:

  • Skill Exchange: UI improvements, pagination to Home search, enhanced filtering, Slack integration, and new Hack features like identicons, voting capabilities, and updated viewing options.
  • Soundcheck: No code UI, Tech Health tab that offers a single ggregated view of metrics and trends, ability to export Tech Health reports, fact framework, and third party integrations like PagerDuty, GitHub, and GitLab.
  • RBAC: Integration with Soundcheck, advanced resolution strategies, and enhanced filtering.
  • Insights: Moved hosting into customer’s Backstage instance, advanced filtering and segmenting, and tailored dashboards for surfacing insights into user, catalog, search and template usage activity.
  • Within the bundle, we also invested in better interconnectivity between the plugins — such as the plugin integration this year between Soundcheck and RBAC.
  • Confidence and Data Experience were released into private beta.

All in all, it's been a big year for the plugins and December is no exception! We’re rounding out 2023 with major new features for Soundcheck and RBAC available today.

Policy testing in RBAC

Our customers have been asking for an RBAC feature that lets them preview policies and their decisions before publishing. So today, we are excited to introduce policy testing! This feature enhances policy administration capabilities and empowers policy admins to configure tests against their permissions, providing a comprehensive view of policy decisions prior to production release. The interface enables administrators to selectively choose specific permissions, observe the outcomes applied to designated role(s) within their policy, and run simulations. Check out the feature in action:

gif of policy testing for rbac

Soundcheck Campaigns

For Soundcheck, we’ve heard that engineering teams and leaders need to be able to create focused initiatives (such as ‘Update Spring libraries to use a specific version of Spring Boot’), assign them to specific teams, and track these initiatives. In the past, teams have tried to solve it by using spreadsheets which, as we all know, becomes painful all too quickly. So today, we’re introducing a long-term solution to this need with Soundcheck campaigns. Campaigns will allow organizations to drive, track, and manage targeted initiatives along with built-in Slack notifications. We hope this reduces the need for one spreadsheet, and saves you a headache or two.

gif of new campaigns feature for soundcheck

The New Year: Onward and upward

We’re grateful to everyone on this journey with us to make Backstage the IDP standard and help organizations of all shapes and sizes realize their developer experience goals.

If 2023 was the year of firsts, then next year can only mean one thing: Don’t Stop Me Us Now!

Going into 2024, we’re excited to take what we’ve learned and deliver more value to our customers and the entire Backstage community.

Happy Holidays! 🎆 🎊