Schema migrations

Schema migrations are the version control for your database. Think of them as independent scripts written in TypeScript to alter your database schema over time.

Here's how migrations work in a nutshell.

You make a new migration file for every database schema change (i.e., create or alter table).

  • Within the migration file, you will write the statements to perform the required actions.
  • Run migrations using the AdonisJS command-line tool.
  • AdonisJS will keep track of executed migrations. This ensures that every migration runs only once.
  • During development, you can also roll back migrations to edit them.

Creating your first migration

You can create a new migration by running the following Ace command. The migration files are stored inside the database/migrations directory.

You can also create a Lucid model and the migration together by running the node ace make:model -m flag.

node ace make:migration users
# CREATE: database/migrations/1630981615472_users.ts

If you will notice, the migration filename is prefixed with some numeric value. We add the current timestamp to the filename so that the migration files are sorted in the order created.

Migration class structure

A migration class always extends the BaseSchema class and must implement the up and the down methods.

  • The up method is used to evolve the database schema further. Usually, you will create new tables/indexes or alter existing tables inside this method.
  • The down method is used to roll back the actions executed by the up method. For example, if the up method creates a table, the down method should drop the same table.

Both the methods have access to the Schema builder that you can use to construct SQL DDL queries.

import { BaseSchema } from '@adonisjs/lucid/schema'
export default class extends BaseSchema {
protected tableName = 'users'
async up() {
this.schema.createTable(this.tableName, (table) => {
table.timestamp('created_at', { useTz: true })
table.timestamp('updated_at', { useTz: true })
async down() {

Run & rollback migrations

Once you have created the migration files you need, you can run the following Ace command to process migrations. For example, the migration:run command executes the up method on all the migration files.

node ace migration:run

SQL statements for every migration file are wrapped inside a transaction. So if one statement fails, all other statements within the same file will roll back.

Also, in case of failure, the subsequent migrations will be aborted. However, the migrations before the failed migration stay in the completed state.

Tracking completed migrations

AdonisJS tracks the file path of executed migrations inside the adonis_schema database table. This is done to avoid re-running the same migration files.

Following are the columns inside the adonis_schema table.

| id | name | batch | migration_time |
| 1 | database/migrations/1587988332388_users | 1 | 2021-08-26 10:41:31.176333+05:30 |
| 2 | database/migrations/1592489784670_api_tokens | 1 | 2021-08-26 10:41:31.2074+05:30 |
  • name: Path to the migration file. It is always relative to the project root.
  • batch: The batch under which the migration was executed. The batch number is incremented every time you run the migration:run command.
  • migration_time: Migration execution timestamp.

Rollback migrations

You can roll back migrations by running the migration:rollback command. The rollback action is performed on the migrations from the most recent batch. However, you can also specify a custom batch number until which you want to roll back.

# Rollback the latest batch
node ace migration:rollback
# Rollback until the start of the migration
node ace migration:rollback --batch=0
# Rollback until batch 1
node ace migration:rollback --batch=1

The migration:reset command is basically an alias for migration:rollback --batch=0. This will rollback all of your application's migrations :

node ace migration:reset

To rollback a specific number of migrations, you can use the --step flag.

# Rollback the last 3 migrations
node ace migration:rollback --step=3

The rollback command executes the down method of the migration class. Like the up method, the SQL statements of the down method are also wrapped inside a database transaction.

Rollback and migrate using a single command

The migration:refresh command will rollback all of your migrations and then execute the migration:run command. This command effectively re-creates your entire database:

node ace migration:refresh
# Refresh the database and run all seeders
node ace migration:refresh --seed

Drop tables and migrate

Unlike the migration:refresh command, the migration:fresh command will not run the down method of the migration files. Instead, it will drop all the tables using the db:wipe command and then run the migration:run command.

node ace migration:fresh
# Drop all tables, migrate, and run seeders
node ace migration:fresh --seed

migration:fresh and db:wipe commands will drop all database tables. These command should be used with caution when developing on a database that is shared with other applications.

Avoid rollback in production

Performing a rollback during development is perfectly fine since there is no fear of data loss. However, performing a rollback in production is not an option in the majority of cases. Consider the following example:

  • You create and run a migration to set up the users table.
  • Over time, this table has received data since the app is running in production.
  • Your product has evolved, and now you want to add a new column to the users table.

You cannot simply roll back, edit the existing migration, and re-run it because the rollback will drop the users table.

Instead, you should create a new migration file to alter the existing users table by adding the required column. In other words, migrations should always move forward.

Create a table

You can use the schema.createTable method to create a new database table. The method accepts the table name as the first argument and a callback function to define the table columns.

import { BaseSchema } from '@adonisjs/lucid/schema'
export default class extends BaseSchema {
protected tableName = 'users'
async up() {
this.schema.createTable(this.tableName, (table) => {
table.timestamp('created_at', { useTz: true })
table.timestamp('updated_at', { useTz: true })
async down() {

Alter table

You can alter an existing database table using the schema.alterTable method. The method accepts the table name as the first argument and a callback function to alter/add the table columns.

export default class extends BaseSchema {
async up() {
this.schema.alterTable('user', (table) => {

Rename/drop table

You can rename the table using the schema.renameTable. The method accepts the existing table name as the first argument and the new name as the second argument.

export default class extends BaseSchema {
async up() {
this.schema.renameTable('user', 'app_users')

You can drop the table using the schema.dropTable. The method accepts the table name as the only argument.

export default class extends BaseSchema {
async down() {

Dry run

The dry run mode of migrations lets you view the SQL queries in the console instead of executing them. Just pass the --dry-run flag to the migration commands to turn on the dry run mode.

# Run
node ace migration:run --dry-run
# Rollback
node ace migration:rollback --dry-run

Performing other database operations

Quite often, you will have requirements to run SQL queries other than just creating/altering tables. For example: Migrating data to a newly created table before deleting the old table.

You should define these operations using the this.defer method, as shown below.

We migrate the emails from the users table to the user_emails table in the following example.

export default class extends BaseSchema {
async up() {
this.schema.createTable('user_emails', (table) => {
// table columns
this.defer(async (db) => {
const users = await db.from('users').select('*')
await Promise.all( => {
return db.table('user_emails').insert({ user_id:, email: })
this.schema.alterTable('users', (table) => {

Wrapping your database queries inside the this.defer method makes sure they are not executed when running migrations in dry run mode.

Changing migrations database connection

You can manage the database connection for migrations in a couple of different ways.

Separate migration source

The first option is to keep migrations separate for each database connection. This is usually helpful when each database connection queries different tables. For example, you are using a different database for users data and a different database for products data.

Define the migrations path next to the database connection config.

users: {
client: 'mysql2',
migrations: {
paths: ['./database/users/migrations']
products: {
client: 'mysql2',
migrations: {
paths: ['./database/products/migrations']

When creating a new migration, define the --connection flag, and the command will create the file in the correct directory.

node ace make:migration --connection=products

When running the migrations, the --connection flag will run migrations only from the selected connection directory.

node ace migration:run --connection=products

Shared migrations

If you want to run the same migrations under a different database connection, you can use the --connection flag. The migrations will use the config from the selected connection to run the migrations.

This option is helpful for multi-tenant applications, where you want to switch connections every time you run the migration.

node ace migration:run --connection=tenantA

A note on advisory locks

We obtain an advisory lock with the database server to ensure that only one process is running migrations at a time. The advisory locks are supported only by pg and mysql drivers and you can disable locking system using the --disable-locks command-line flag.

node ace migration:run --disable-locks
node ace migration:refresh --disable-locks
node ace migration:rollback --disable-locks

Running migrations programmatically

Using the MigrationRunner module, you can run migrations programmatically. This is usually helpful when running migrations from a web interface and not the command line.

Following is an example of running the migrations from a route and returning a list of migrated files in the response.

import db from '@adonisjs/lucid/services/db'
import app from '@adonisjs/core/services/app'
import router from '@adonisjs/core/services/router'
import { MigrationRunner } from '@adonisjs/lucid/migration'
router.get('/', async () => {
const migrator = new MigrationRunner(Database, Application, {
direction: 'up',
dryRun: false,
// connectionName: 'pg',
return migrator.migratedFiles
  • The direction = up means to run the up method inside the migration files. You can set the direction = down to roll back the migrations.

  • Enabling the dryRun will not execute the queries but instead collect them inside the queries array.

  • You can also optionally define the connectionName property to execute the migrations against a specific database connection.


The migrator.migratedFiles is an object. The key is the unique name (derived from the file path), and the value is another object of migration file properties.

"database/migrations/1623289360244_users": {
"status": "completed",
"queries": [],
"file": {
"filename": "1623289360244_users.ts",
"absPath": "/path/to/project/database/migrations/1623289360244_users.ts",
"name": "database/migrations/1623289360244_users"
"batch": 1
  • The status will be one of "pending", "completed", or "error".
  • The queries array contains an array of executed queries. Only when dryRun is enabled.
  • The file property holds the information for the migration file.
  • The batch property tells the batch in which the migration was executed.


The migrator.getList method returns a list of all the migrations, including the completed and the pending ones. This is the same list you see when running the node ace migration:status command.

await migrator.getList()
"name": "database/migrations/1623289360244_users",
"status": "pending"


Returns the current status of the migrator. It will always be one of the following.

  • The pending status means no the method has not been called yet.
  • The completed status means the migrations were successfully executed.
  • The error status means there was an error in the migration process. You can read the actual error from the migrator.error property in case of error status.
  • The skipped status means there were no migrations to run or rollback.

Migrations config

The migration object defined on every database connection is used to configuration the migration system of Lucid. Following is the list of available options.

migrations: {
naturalSort: true,
paths: ['database/migrations'],
disableRollbacksInProduction: true,
disableTransactions: false,
tableName: 'adonis_schema',


Use natural sort to sort the files inside the migrations directory.


An array of directories to scan and load migration files. All files ending with .ts or .js are imported and executed as migration files.


A security flag to disable accidental rollbacks in production environment. Rollback actions defined inside a migration file are usually destructive like dropping a table, removing a column, and so on. Therefore, we recommend disabling rollbacks in production.


Disable use of transactions when executing migration files. By default, we start one transaction for every migration file.


The table name for tracking state of executed migration files. Defaults to adonis_schema.