What does Backstage actually do?


I finally got a good handle on what Backstage does today - not the outcomes it helps you get, but what it’s base, core capabilities are. Ben gave me a nice overview of the basics and let me learn-by-questioning a lot. Hopefully we’ll get together for two more parts: talking about the plugin ecosystem and then how you install, run, and manage it. There’s a podcast, audio only version if you don’t care for videos.

The Prisoner's Dilemma of Cables (in a Family Household)

If you meticulously keep track of your phone charger and laptop cables and wires in a family, everyone else will know that you always have the right cable.

They will stop caring to keep track of their own, losing them constantly. There’s probably no “stop” for the younger ones: it can seem like they never started in the first place!

Then they will come to you to "borrow" your cables. Which they will promptly lose. And then, there you are, with no cables.

So, why keep track of them in the first place?

Software Defined Talk

The three of us were together this week:

This week, we discuss why everyone is envious of Google’s Internal Dev Tools, examine the state of Git, speculate about how 37 Signals plans to reinvent software licensing with ONCE, and share a few thoughts on the Salesforce CEO’s recent comments about work from home.

Watch the video, or check out the audio-only podcast episode.

Relative to your interests

  • The Power of a Path-to-Production Workshop - The lines are more important than what’s in the boxes.

  • A Guide to Open Source Platform Engineering - The New Stack - ‘“In its simplest form, a platform is just the underlying set of services and capabilities that an application requires to run effectively in a production environment,” Johnson said. Platform-driven automation makes it really easy to do the right things and really hard to do the wrong ones.’

  • What Predicts Software Developers’ Productivity? - As ever, better vibes, better work.

  • What I learned in year three of Platformer - “the newsletter business three years in is that to be successful, you need multiple things to go right at once: to have the chance to work with a great partner; to generate scoops at some regular cadence; to create a complementary product that expands your audience; and to leverage whatever platform dynamics you can for as long as they last.” And: “thanks to the death of Twitter, it’s harder to promote your work: you wind up posting the same link to five or six new networks, and collectively get a tenth of the views that a year ago you could have gotten on the bird site.”

  • The Eclipse Foundation Releases 2023 Jakarta EE Developer Survey Report - “When comparing the survey results to 2022, usage of Jakarta EE to build cloud native applications has remained steady at 53%. Spring/Spring Boot, which relies on some Jakarta EE specifications, continues to be the leading Java framework in this category, with usage growing from 57% to 66%.”

  • Restricted Source Licensing Is Here - This is the best advice for buying from any startup/high growth mid-stage company, especially the open source ones: “Review your vendors’ financial health. One of the big concerns with such events is the financial health of your OSS vendor. What if it goes under? The potential loss of the platform will necessitate a search for alternatives, including the potential support of an open source alternative. New open source alternatives based off forked, older source code will take time to develop and may not provide the same experience in terms of adoption, support, and feature upgrades that were experienced with the original.”


Talks I’ll be giving, places I’ll be, things I’ll be doing, etc.

Oct 3rd Enterprise DevOps Techcon, Utrecht, speaking. Oct 5th to 6th Monktoberfest, Portland, ME. Oct 9th Spring Tour Amsterdam Oct 10th, 17th, 24th talk series: Building a Path to Production: A Guide for Managers and Leaders in Platform Engineering Nov 6th to 9th VMware Explore in Barcelona, speaking (twice!).


I haven’t given you a D&D update in awhile. I’ve had the chance to play one of the many solo adventures out there, Solo Skirmish: The Cult of Mol'goroz. This is a very different approach with some at first clunky mechanics, focusing mostly on just combat and rolling for random finds, traps, and puzzles. But, it achieves its goals: it’s fast and action oriented. You have a one page, three part adventure that goes through a four part loop. First, you read the brief overview. Then you roll on a random table for 20 occurrences (anything from finding something, falling into a trap, or some actual story telling). Then you roll for a random encounter (goblins, etc.). Then depending on which stage you’re in, you a level-boss or boss fight, basically. As with all solo systems, there’s some variation here and there, but that’s basically it.

Fighting isn’t really the part of D&D that I like, I like the role playing. But! ChatGPT is pretty good at the role playing part and terrible at the action/combat part. It’s very hard to get ChatGPT to actually advance the plot and make decisions.

So, in the back of my head I’m still trying to come up with an approach to using ChatGPT for solo D&D gaming. The Solo Skirmish system feels like a good skeleton to build it on. You would run through the rigid, action/combat sequence in the printed adventure, and then there would be points where it would say “tell ChatGPT to now play a conversation between you and the guard. Pass ChatGPT this context about the guards…” That’s the kind of thing ChatGPT is good at.

I’ve also been experimenting with getting ChatGPT to come up with outlines for solo adventures (choose your own adventure format). It seems promising. You can give it a premise (a “hook”) and it can kind of come up with branching “go to page 7 to eat the meat-pie, or if you’re vegetarian, go to page 54.” We’ll see.,, @cote,,