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API Documentation

This is an extension for the catalog plugin that provides components to discover and display API entities. APIs define the interface between components, see the system model for details. They are defined in machine readable formats and provide a human readable documentation.

The plugin provides a standalone list of APIs, as well as an integration into the API tab of a catalog entity.

Standalone API list OpenAPI Definition Integration into components

Right now, the following API formats are supported:

Other formats are displayed as plain text, but this can easily be extended.

To fill the catalog with APIs, provide entities of kind API. To link that a component provides or consumes an API, see the providesApis and consumesApis properties on the Component kind.

Getting Started

The plugin is already added when using npx @backstage/create-app so you can skip these steps.

  1. Install the API docs plugin
# From your Backstage root directory
yarn add --cwd packages/app @backstage/plugin-api-docs
  1. Add the ApiExplorerPage extension to the app:
// In packages/app/src/App.tsx

import { ApiExplorerPage } from '@backstage/plugin-api-docs';

<Route path="/api-docs" element={<ApiExplorerPage />} />;
  1. Add one of the provided widgets to the EntityPage:
// packages/app/src/components/catalog/EntityPage.tsx

import {
} from '@backstage/plugin-api-docs';

const apiPage = (
    <EntityLayout.Route path="/" title="Overview">
      <Grid container spacing={3}>
        <Grid item xs={12} md={6}>
          <EntityAboutCard />
        <Grid container>
          <Grid item md={12}>
            <Grid item xs={12} md={6}>
              <EntityProvidingComponentsCard />
            <Grid item xs={12} md={6}>
              <EntityConsumingComponentsCard />

    <EntityLayout.Route path="/definition" title="Definition">
      <Grid container spacing={3}>
        <Grid item xs={12}>
          <EntityApiDefinitionCard />

// ...

export const entityPage = (
    // ...
    <EntitySwitch.Case if={isKind('api')} children={apiPage} />
    // ...

There are other components to discover in ./src/components that are also added by the default app.


Custom API Renderings

You can add support for additional API types by providing a custom implementation for the apiDocsConfigRef. You can also use this to override the rendering of one of the already supported types.

This is an example with a made-up renderer for SQL schemas:

// packages/app/src/apis.tsx

import { ApiEntity } from '@backstage/catalog-model';
import {
} from '@backstage/plugin-api-docs';
import { SqlRenderer } from '...';

// ...

export const apis: AnyApiFactory[] = [
  // ...

    api: apiDocsConfigRef,
    deps: {},
    factory: () => {
      // load the default widgets
      const definitionWidgets = defaultDefinitionWidgets();
      return {
        getApiDefinitionWidget: (apiEntity: ApiEntity) => {
          // custom rendering for sql
          if (apiEntity.spec.type === 'sql') {
            return {
              type: 'sql',
              title: 'SQL',
              component: definition => <SqlRenderer definition={definition} />,
            } as ApiDefinitionWidget;

          // fallback to the defaults
          return definitionWidgets.find(d => d.type === apiEntity.spec.type);

Implementing OAuth 2 Authorization Code flow with Swagger UI

Adding oauth2-redirect.html to support OAuth2 redirect_uri route

The Swagger UI package by expects to have a route to /oauth2-redirect.html which processes the redirect callback for the OAuth2 Authorization Code flow, however, this file is not installed by this plugin.

Grab a copy of oauth2-redirect.html and put it in the app/public/ directory in order to enable Swagger UI to complete this redirection.

This also may require you to adjust Content Security Policy header settings of your Backstage application, so that the script in oauth2-redirect.html can be executed. Since the script is static we can add the hash of it directly to our CSP policy, which we do by adding the following to the csp section of the app configuration:

  - "'self'"
  - "'unsafe-eval'" # this is required for scaffolder usage, and ajv validation.
  - "'sha256-GeDavzSZ8O71Jggf/pQkKbt52dfZkrdNMQ3e+Ox+AkI='" # oauth2-redirect.html

Configuring your OAuth2 Client

You'll need to make sure your OAuth2 client has been registered in your OAuth2 Authentication Server (AS) with the appropriate redirect_uris, scopes and grant_types. For example, if your AS supports the OAuth 2.0 Dynamic Client Registration Protocol, an example POST request body would look like this:

    "client_name": "Example Backstage api-docs plugin Swagger UI Client",
    "redirect_uris": [
    "scope": "read_pets write_pets",
    "grant_types": [

The above redirect_uris are:

  • Postman testing:
  • Local Backstage app development: http://localhost:3000/oauth2-redirect.html
  • Backstage app production: https://<yourhost>/oauth2-redirect.html

Configuring OAuth2 in your OpenAPI 3.0 schema

To configure OAuth 2 Authorization Code flow in your OpenAPI 3.0 schema you'll need something like this snippet:

      type: oauth2
      description: OAuth2 service
            read_pets: read your pets
            write_pets: modify pets in your account
    - [read_pets, write_pets]