Active Record Migrations - The Rails 4 Way (2014)

The Rails 4 Way (2014)

Chapter 6. Active Record Migrations

Baby step to four o’clock. Baby step to four o’clock.

—Bob Wiley

It’s a fact of life that the database schema of your application will evolve over the course of development. Tables are added, names of columns are changed, things are dropped—you get the picture. Without strict conventions and process discipline for the application developers to follow, keeping the database schema in proper lock-step with application code is traditionally a very troublesome job.

Migrations are Rails’ way of helping you to evolve the database schema of your application (also known as its DDL) without having to drop and re-create the database each time you make a change. And not having to drop and recreate the database each time a change happens means that you don’t lose your development data. That may or may not be that important, but is usually very convenient. The only changes made when you execute a migration are those necessary to move the schema from one version to another, whether that move is forward or backward in time.

Of course, being able to evolve your schema without having to recreate your databases and the loading/reloading of data is an order of magnitude more important once you’re in production.

6.1 Creating Migrations

Rails provides a generator for creating migrations.

$ rails generate migration


rails generate migration NAME [field[:type][:index] field[:type][:index]] [options]

At minimum, you need to supply descriptive name for the migration in CamelCase (or underscored_text, both work,) and the generator does the rest. Other generators, such as the model and scaffolding generators, also create migration scripts for you, unless you specify the --skip-migrationoption.

The descriptive part of the migration name is up to you, but most Rails developers that I know try to make it match the schema operation (in simple cases) or at least allude to what’s going on inside (in more complex cases).

Note that if you change the classname of your migration to something that doesn’t match its filename, you will get an uninitialized constant error when that migration gets executed.

6.1.1 Sequencing Migrations

Prior to Rails 2.1, the migrations were sequenced via a simple numbering scheme baked into the name of the migration file, and automatically handled by the migration generator. Each migration received a sequential number. There were many inconveniences inherent in that approach, especially in team environments where two developers could check in a migration with the same sequence number. Thankfully those issues have been eliminated by using timestamps to sequence migrations.

Migrations that have already been run are listed in a special database table that Rails maintains. It is named schema_migrations and only has one column:

mysql> desc schema_migrations;


| Field | Type | Null | Key | Default | Extra |


| version | varchar(255) | NO | PRI | NULL | |


1 rowinset (0.00 sec)

When you pull down new migrations from source control, rake db:migrate will check the schema_migrations table and execute all migrations that have not yet run (even if they have earlier timestamps than migrations that you’ve added yourself in the interim).

6.1.2 change

Introduced in version 3.1, Rails added the ability to define reversible migrations. In previous versions of Rails, one would have to define two migration instance methods up and down. The up method included the the logic of what to change in the database, while the down method included the logic on how to revert that change. Using the change method, one only needs to specify the up logic for the majority of use cases.

The following migration file 20130313005347_create_clients.rb illustrates creating a new table named clients:

1 classCreateClients < ActiveRecord::Migration

2 def change

3 create_table :clients do |t|

4 t.string :name

5 t.string :code

6 t.timestamps

7 end

8 end

9 end

As you can see in the example, the migration directive happens within instance method definition, change. If we go to the command line in our project folder and type rake db:migrate, the clients table will be created. Rails gives us informative output during the migration process so that we see what is going on:

$ rake db:migrate

== CreateClients: migrating ==========================================

-- create_table(:clients)

-> 0.0448s

== CreateClients: migrated (0.0450s) =================================

If you ever need to rollback to an earlier version of the schema, run use the migrate task, but pass it a version number to rollback to, as in rake db:migrate VERSION=20130313005347.

6.1.3 reversible

If a migration is very complex, Active Record may not be able to reverse it without a little help. The reversible method acts very similarly to to the up and down migration methods, that were common in previous versions of Rails. Using reversible, one can specify operations to perform when running a migration, and others when reverting it.

In the following example, the reversible method passes logic in a block to methods, up and down, to enable and disable hstore support in a PostgreSQL database respectively.

1 def change

2 reversible do |dir|

3 dir.up do

4 execute("CREATE EXTENSION hstore")

5 end


7 dir.down do

8 execute("DROP EXTENSION hstore")

9 end

10 end


12 add_column :users, :preferences, :hstore

13 end

6.1.4 Irreversible Migrations

Some transformations are destructive in a manner that cannot be reversed. Migrations of that kind should raise an ActiveRecord::IrreversibleMigration exception in their reversible down block. For example, what if someone on your team made a silly mistake and defined the telephone column of your clients table as an integer? You can change the column to a string and the data will migrate cleanly, but going from a string to an integer? Not so much.

1 def change

2 reversible do |dir|

3 dir.up do

4 # Phone number fields are not integers, duh!

5 change_column :clients, :phone, :string

6 end


8 dir.down { raise ActiveRecord::IrreversibleMigration }

9 end

10 end

6.1.5 create_table(name, options, &block)

The create_table method needs at minimum a name for the table and a block containing column definitions. Why do we specify identifiers with symbols instead of strings? Both will work, but symbols require one less keystroke.

The create_table method makes a huge, but usually true assumption that we want an auto-incrementing, integer-typed, primary key. That is why you don’t see it declared in the list of columns. If that assumption happens to be wrong, it’s time to pass create_table some options in a hash.

For example, how would you define a simple join table consisting of two foreign key columns and not needing its own primary key? Just pass the create_table method an :id option set to false, as a boolean, not a symbol! It will stop the migration from auto-generating a primary key altogether:

1 create_table :ingredients_recipes, id: false do |t|

2 t.column :ingredient_id, :integer

3 t.column :recipe_id, :integer

4 end

Alternatively, the same functionality can be achieved using the create_join_table method, covered later in the chapter.

If all you want to do is change the name of the primary key column from its default of ‘id’, pass the :id option a symbol instead. For example, let’s say your corporation mandates that primary keys follow the pattern tablename_id. Then the earlier example would look as follows:

1 create_table :clients, id: :clients_id do |t|

2 t.column :name, :string

3 t.column :code, :string

4 t.column :created_at, :datetime

5 t.column :updated_at, :datetime

6 end

The force: true option tells the migration to go ahead and drop the table being defined if it exists. Be careful with this one, since it will produce (possibly unwanted) data loss when run in production. As far as I know, the :force option is mostly useful for making sure that the migration puts the database in a known state, but isn’t all that useful on a daily basis.

The :options option allows you to append custom instructions to the SQL CREATE statement and is useful for adding database-specific commands to your migration. Depending on the database you’re using, you might be able to specify things such as character set, collation, comments, min/max sizes, and many other properties using this option.

The temporary: true option specifies creation of a temporary table that will only exist during the current connection to the database. In other words, it only exists during the migration. In advanced scenarios, this option might be useful for migrating big sets of data from one table to another, but is not commonly used.


Sebastian says…

A little known fact is that you can remove old migration files (while still keeping newer ones) to keep the db/migrate folder to a manageable size. You can move the older migrations to a db/archived_migrations folder or something like that. Once you do trim the size of your migrations folder, use the rake db:reset task to (re)create your database from db/schema.rb and load the seeds into your current environment.

6.1.6 change_table(table_name, &block)

Basically works just like create_table and accepts the same kinds of column definitions.

6.1.7 create_join_table

In Rails 4, a new migration method create_join_table has been added to easily create HABTM join tables. The create_join_table accepts at minimum the names of two tables.

create_join_table :ingredients, :recipes

The preceding code example will create a table named ‘ingredients_recipes’ with no primary key.

The create_join_table also accepts an options hash where you can specify the following:


If you do not agree with the Rails convention of concatenating both tables names with an underscore, the :table_name option allows setting an override.


Add any extra options to append to the foreign key column definitions.

:options, :temporary, and :force

Accept the same interface as the equivalent options found in create_table.

6.1.8 API Reference

The following table details the methods that are available in the context of create_table and change_table methods within a migration class. change(column_name, type, options = {})

Changes the column’s definition according to the new options. The options hash optionally contains a hash with arguments that correspond to the options used when adding columns.

t.change(:name, :string, limit: 80)

t.change(:description, :text) change_default(column_name, default)

Sets a new default value for a column.

t.change_default(:qualification, 'new')

t.change_default(:authorized, 1) column(column_name, type, options = {})

Adds a new column to the named table. Uses the same kind of options detailed in Section “Defining Columns”.

t.column(:name, :string)

Note that you can also use the short-hand version by calling it by type. This adds a column (or columns) of the specified type (string, text, integer, float, decimal, datetime, timestamp, time, date, binary, boolean).


t.string(:goat, :sheep)

t.integer(:age, :quantity) index(column_name, options = {})

Adds a new index to the table. The column_name parameter can be one symbol or an array of symbols referring to columns to be indexed. The name parameter lets you override the default name that would otherwise be generated.

# a simple index


# a unique index

t.index([:branch_id, :party_id], unique: true)

# a named index

t.index([:branch_id, :party_id], unique: true, name: 'by_branch_party')

Partial Indices

As of Rails 4, the index method added support for partial indices via the :where option. The main benefit of using a partial index is to reduce the size of an index for commonly used queries within an application.

For example, let’s assume a Rails application queries constantly for clients that have a status of “active” within the system. Instead of creating an index on the status column for every client record, we can include only those records that meet the specified criteria:

add_index(:clients, :status, where: 'active')

Partial indices can only can only be used with an application using a PostgreSQL database. belongs_to(args) and references(args)

These two methods are aliases to each other. They add a foreign key column to another model, using Active Record naming conventions. Optionally adds a _type column if the :polymorphic option is set to true.

1 create_table :accounts do

2 t.belongs_to(:person)

3 end


5 create_table :comments do

6 t.references(:commentable, polymorphic: true)

7 end

A common best practice is to create an index for each foreign key in your database tables. It’s so common, that Rails 4 has introduced an :index option to the references and belongs_to methods, that creates an index for the column immediately after creation. The index option accepts a boolean value or the same hash options as the index method, covered in the preceding section.

create_table :accounts do

t.belongs_to(:person, index: true)

end remove(*column_names)

Removes the column(s) specified from the table definition.


t.remove(:qualification, :experience) remove_index(options = {})

Removes the given index from the table.

# remove the accounts_branch_id_index from the accounts table

t.remove_index column: :branch_id

# remove the accounts_branch_id_party_id_index from the accounts table

t.remove_index column: [:branch_id, :party_id]

# remove the index named by_branch_party in the accounts table

t.remove_index name: :by_branch_party remove_references(*args) and remove_belongs_to

Removes a reference. Optionally removes a type column.


t.remove_references(:commentable, polymorphic: true) remove_timestamps

Here’s a method that you will never use, unless you forgot to add timestamps in the create_table block and do it in a later migration. It removes the timestamp columns. (created_at and updated_at) from the table. rename(column_name, new_column_name)

Renames a column. The old name comes first, a fact that I usually can’t remember.

t.rename(:description, :name) revert

If you have ever wanted to revert a specific migration file explicitly within another migration, now you can. The revert method can accept the name of a migration class, which when executed, reverts the given migration.

revert CreateProductsMigration

The revert method can also accept a block of directives to reverse on execution. timestamps

Adds Active Record-maintained timestamp (created_at and updated_at) columns to the table.


6.1.9 Defining Columns

Columns can be added to a table using either the column method, inside the block of a create_table statement, or with the add_column method. Other than taking the name of the table to add the column to as its first argument, the methods work identically.

1 create_table :clients do |t|

2 t.column :name, :string

3 end


5 add_column :clients, :code, :string

6 add_column :clients, :created_at, :datetime

The first (or second) parameter obviously specifies the name of the column, and the second (or third) obviously specifies its type. The SQL92 standard defines fundamental data types, but each database implementation has its own variation on the standards.

If you’re familiar with database column types, when you examine the preceding example it might strike you as a little weird that there is a database column declared as type string, since databases don’t have string columns—they have char or varchars types. Column Type Mappings

The reason for declaring a database column as type string is that Rails migrations are meant to be database-agnostic. That’s why you could (as I’ve done on occasion) develop using Postgres as your database and deploy in production to Oracle.

A complete discussion of how to go about choosing the right data type for your application needs is outside the scope of this book. However, it is useful to have a reference of how migration’s generic types map to database-specific types. The mappings for the databases most commonly used with Rails are in Table 6.1.

Migration Type





Ruby Class













































character varying(255)






















Each connection adapter class has a native_database_types hash which establishes the mapping described in Table 6.1. If you need to look up the mappings for a database not listed in Table 6.1, you can pop open the adapter Ruby code and find the native_database_types hash, like the following one inside the PostgreSQLAdapter class within postgresql_adapter.rb:


2 primary_key: "serial primary key",

3 string: { name: "character varying", limit: 255 },

4 text: { name: "text" },

5 integer: { name: "integer" },

6 float: { name: "float" },

7 decimal: { name: "decimal" },

8 datetime: { name: "timestamp" },

9 timestamp: { name: "timestamp" },

10 time: { name: "time" },

11 date: { name: "date" },

12 daterange: { name: "daterange" },

13 numrange: { name: "numrange" },

14 tsrange: { name: "tsrange" },

15 tstzrange: { name: "tstzrange" },

16 int4range: { name: "int4range" },

17 int8range: { name: "int8range" },

18 binary: { name: "bytea" },

19 boolean: { name: "boolean" },

20 xml: { name: "xml" },

21 tsvector: { name: "tsvector" },

22 hstore: { name: "hstore" },

23 inet: { name: "inet" },

24 cidr: { name: "cidr" },

25 macaddr: { name: "macaddr" },

26 uuid: { name: "uuid" },

27 json: { name: "json" },

28 ltree: { name: "ltree" }

29 }

As you may have noticed in the previous code example, the PostgreSQL adapter includes a large amount of column type mappings that are not available in other databases. Note that using these unique PostgreSQL column types will make a Rails application no longer database agnostic. We cover why you may want to use some of these column types, such as hstore and array in Chapter 9, Advanced Active Record. Column Options

For many column types, just specifying type is not enough information. All column declarations accept the following options:

default: value

Sets a default to be used as the initial value of the column for new rows. You don’t ever need to explicitly set the default value to null. Just leave off this option to get a null default value. It’s worth noting that MySQL 5.x ignores default values for binary and text columns.

limit: size

Adds a size parameter to string, text, binary, or integer columns. Its meaning varies depending on the column type that it is applied to. Generally speaking, limits for string types refers to number of characters, whereas for other types it specifies the number of bytes used to store the value in the database.

null: false

Makes the column required at the database level by adding a not null constraint. Decimal Precision

Columns declared as type :decimal accept the following options:

precision: number

Precision is the total number of digits in a number.

scale: number

Scale is the number of digits to the right of the decimal point. For example, the number 123.45 has a precision of 5 and a scale of 2. Logically, the scale cannot be larger than the precision.


Decimal types pose a serious opportunity for data loss during migrations of production data between different kinds of databases. For example, the default precisions between Oracle and SQL Server can cause the migration process to truncate and change the value of your numeric data. It’s always a good idea to specify precision details for your data. Column Type Gotchas

The choice of column type is not necessarily a simple choice and depends on both the database you’re using and the requirements of your application.


Depending on your particular usage scenario, storing binary data in the database can cause large performance problems. Active Record doesn’t generally exclude any columns when it loads objects from the database, and putting large binary attributes on commonly used models will increase the load on your database server significantly. If you must put binary content in a commonly-used class, take advantage of the :select method to only bring back the columns you need.


The way that boolean values are stored varies from database to database. Some use 1 and 0 integer values to represent true and false, respectively. Others use characters such as T and F. Rails handles the mapping between Ruby’s true and false very well, so you don’t need to worry about the underlying scheme yourself. Setting attributes directly to database values such as 1 or F may work correctly, but is considered an anti-pattern.

:datetime and :timestamp

The Ruby class that Rails maps to datetime and timestamp columns is Time. In 32-bit environments, Time doesn’t work for dates before 1902. Ruby’s DateTime class does work with year values prior to 1902, and Rails falls back to using it if necessary. It doesn’t use DateTime to begin for performance reasons. Under the covers, Time is implemented in C and is very fast, whereas DateTime is written in pure Ruby and is comparatively slow.


It’s very, very rare that you want to use a :time datatype; perhaps if you’re modeling an alarm clock. Rails will read the contents of the database as hour, minute and second values, into a Time object with dummy values for the year, month and day.


Older versions of Rails (prior to 1.2) did not support the fixed-precision :decimal type and as a result many old Rails applications incorrectly used :float datatypes. Floating-point numbers are by nature imprecise, so it is important to choose :decimal instead of :float for most business-related applications.


Tim says.

If you’re using a float to store values which need to be precise, such as money, you’re a jackass. Floating point calculations are done in binary rather than decimal, so rounding errors abound in places you wouldn’t expect.

>> 0.1+0.2 == 0.3

=> false

>> BigDecimal('0.1') + BigDecimal('0.2') == BigDecimal('0.3')

=> true


Don’t use floats to store currency values, or more accurately, any type of data that needs fixed precision. Since floating-point numbers are pretty much approximations, any single representation of a number as a float is probably okay. However, once you start doing mathematical operations or comparisons with float values, it is ridiculously easy to introduce difficult to diagnose bugs into your application.

:integer and :string

There aren’t many gotchas that I can think of when it comes to integers and strings. They are the basic data building blocks of your application, and many Rails developers leave off the size specification, which results in the default maximum sizes of 11 digits and 255 characters, respectively. You should keep in mind that you won’t get an error if you try to store values that exceed the maximum size defined for the database column, which again, is 255 characters by default. Your string will simply get truncated. Use validations to make sure that user-entered data does not exceed the maximum size allowed.


There have been reports of text fields slowing down query performance on some databases, enough to be a consideration for applications that need to scale to high loads. If you must use a text column in a performance-critical application, put it in a separate table. Custom Data Types

If use of database-specific datatypes (such as :double, for higher precision than :float) is critical to your project, use the config.active_record.schema_format = :sql setting in config/application.rb to make Rails dump schema information in native SQL DDL format rather than its own cross-platform compatible Ruby code, via the db/schema.rb file. “Magic” Timestamp Columns

Rails does magic with datetime columns, if they’re named a certain way. Active Record will automatically timestamp create operations if the table has columns named created_at or created_on. The same applies to updates when there are columns named updated_at or updated_on.

Note that created_at and updated_at should be defined as datetime, but if you use t.timestamps then you don’t have to worry about what type of columns they are.

Automatic timestamping can be turned off globally, by setting the following variable in an initializer.

ActiveRecord::Base.record_timestamps = false

The preceding code turns off timestamps for all models, but record_timestamps is class-inheritable, so you can also do it on a case-by-case basis by setting self.record_timestamps to false at the top of specific model classes.

6.1.10 Command-line Column Declarations

You can supply name/type pairs on the command line when you invoke the migration generator and it will automatically insert the corresponding add_column and remove_column methods.

$ rails generate migration AddTitleBodyToPosts \

title:string body:text published:boolean

This will create the AddTitleBodyToPosts in db/migrate/20130316164654_add_title_body_to_posts.rb with this in the change migration:

1 def change

2 add_column :posts, :title, :string

3 add_column :posts, :body, :text

4 add_column :posts, :published, :boolean

5 end

6.2 Data Migration

So far we’ve only discussed using migration files to modify the schema of your database. Inevitably, you will run into situations where you also need to perform data migrations, whether in conjunction with a schema change or not.

6.2.1 Using SQL

In most cases, you should craft your data migration in raw SQL using the execute command that is available inside a migration class.

For example, say you had a phones table, which kept phone numbers in their component parts and later wanted to simplify your model by just having a number column instead. You’d write a migration similar to this one:

1 classCombineNumberInPhones < ActiveRecord::Migration

2 def change

3 add_column :phones, :number, :string

4 reversible do |dir|

5 dir.up { execute("update phones set number = concat(area_code, prefix, suffix)") }

6 dir.down { ... }

7 end


9 remove_column :phones, :area_code

10 remove_column :phones, :prefix

11 remove_column :phones, :suffix

12 end

13 end

The naive alternative to using SQL in the example above would be more lines of code and much, much slower.

1 Phone.find_each do |p|

2 p.number = p.area_code + p.prefix + p.suffix


4 end

In this particular case, you could use Active Record’s update_all method to still do the data migration in one line.

Phone.update_all("set number = concat(area_code, prefix, suffix)")

However you might hit problems down the road as your schema evolves; as described in the next section you’d want to declare an independent Phone model in the migration file itself. That’s why I advise sticking to raw SQL whenever possible.

6.2.2 Migration Models

If you declare an Active Record model inside of a migration script, it’ll be namespaced to that migration class.

1 classHashPasswordsOnUsers < ActiveRecord::Migration

2 classUser < ActiveRecord::Base

3 end


5 def change

6 reversible do |dir|

7 dir.up do

8 add_column :users, :hashed_password, :string

9 User.reset_column_information

10 User.find_each do |user|

11 user.hashed_password = Digest::SHA1.hexdigest(user.password)


13 end

14 remove_column :users, :password

15 end


17 dir.down { raise ActiveRecord::IrreversibleMigration }

18 end

19 end

20 end

Why not use just your application model classes in the migration scripts directly? As your schema evolves, older migrations that use model classes directly can and will break down and become unusable. Properly namespacing migration models prevent you from having to worry about name clashes with your application’s model classes or ones that are defined in other migrations.


Durran says…

Note that Active Record caches column information on the first request to the database, so if you want to perform a data migration immediately after a migration you may run into a situation where the new columns have not yet been loaded. This is a case where using reset_column_information can come in handy. Simply call this class method on your model and everything will be reloaded on the next request.

6.3 schema.rb

The file db/schema.rb is generated every time you migrate and reflects the latest status of your database schema. You should never edit db/schema.rb by hand. Since this file is auto-generated from the current state of the database. Instead of editing this file, please use the migrations feature of Active Record to incrementally modify your database, and then regenerate this schema definition.

Note that this schema.rb definition is the authoritative source for your database schema. If you need to create the application database on another system, you should be using db:schema:load, not running all the migrations from scratch. The latter is a flawed and unsustainable approach (the more migrations you’ll amass, the slower it’ll run and the greater likelihood for issues).

It’s strongly recommended to check this file into your version control system. First of all, it helps to have one definitive schema definition around for reference. Secondly, you can run rake db:schema:load to create your database schema from scratch without having to run all migrations. That’s especially important considering that as your project evolves, it’s likely that it will become impossible to run migrations all the way through from the start, due to code incompatibilities, such as renaming of classes named explicitly.

6.4 Database Seeding

The automatically created file db/seeds.rb is a default location for creating seed data for your database. It was introduced in order to stop the practice of inserting seed data in individual migration files, if you accept the premise that migrations should never be used for seeding example or base data required by your application. It is executed with the rake db:seed task (or created alongside the database when you run rake db:setup).

At its simplest, the contents of seed.rb is simply a series of create! statements that generate baseline data for your application, whether it’s default or related to configuration. For example, let’s add an admin user and some billing codes to our time and expenses app:

1 User.create!(login: 'admin',

2 email: '',

3 :password: '123', password_confirmation: '123',

4 authorized_approver: true)


6 client = Client.create!(name: 'Workbeast', code: 'BEAST')

7 client.billing_codes.create!(name: 'Meetings', code: 'MTG')

8 client.billing_codes.create!(name: 'Development', code: 'DEV')

Why use the bang version of the create methods? Because otherwise you won’t find out if you had errors in your seed file. An alternative would be to use first_or_create methods to make seeding idempotent.

1 c = Client.where(name: 'Workbeast', code: 'BEAST').first_or_create!

2 c.billing_codes.where(name: 'Meetings', code: 'MTG').first_or_create!

3 c.billing_codes.where(name: 'Development', code: 'DEV').first_or_create!

Another common seeding practice worth mentioning is calling delete_all prior to creating new records, so that seeding does not generate duplicate records. This practice avoids the need for idempotent seeding routines and lets you be very secure about exactly what your database will look like after seeding.)

1 User.delete_all

2 User.create!(login: 'admin', ...


4 Client.delete_all

5 client = Client.create!(name: 'Workbeast', ...


#### Carlos says…

I typically use the seed.rb file for data that is essential to all environments, including production.

For dummy data that will be only used on development or staging, I prefer to create custom rake tasks under the lib/tasks directory, for example lib/tasks/load_dev_data.rake. This helps keep seed.rb clean and free from unnecessary conditionals, like unless Rails.env.production?

6.5 Database-Related Rake Tasks

The following rake tasks are included by default in boilerplate Rails projects. db:create and db:create:all

Create the database defined in config/database.yml for the current Rails.env. If the current environment is development, Rails will create both the local development and test databases.(Or create all of the local databases defined in config/database.yml in the case of db:create:all.) db:drop and db:drop:all

Drops the database for the current RAILS_ENV. If the current environment is development, Rails will drop both the local development and test databases. (Or drops all of the local databases defined in config/database.yml in the case of db:drop:all.) db:forward and db:rollback

The db:rollback task moves your database schema back one version. Similarly, the db:forward task moves your database schema forward one version and is typically used after rolling back. db:migrate

Applies all pending migrations. If a VERSION environment variable is provided, then db:migrate will apply pending migrations through the migration specified, but no further. The VERSION is specified as the timestamp portion of the migration file name.

# example of migrating up with param

$ rake db:migrate VERSION=20130313005347

== CreateUsers: migrating ==========================================

-- create_table(:users)

-> 0.0014s

== CreateUsers: migrated (0.0015s) =================================

If the VERSION provided is older than the current version of the schema, then this task will actually rollback the newer migrations.

# example of migrating down with param

$ rake db:migrate VERSION=20130312152614

== CreateUsers: reverting ==========================================

-- drop_table(:users)

-> 0.0014s

== CreateUsers: reverted (0.0015s) ================================= db:migrate:down

This task will invoke the down method of the specified migration only. The VERSION is specified as the timestamp portion of the migration file name.

$ rake db:migrate:down VERSION=20130316172801

== CreateClients: reverting ========================================

-- drop_table(:clients)

-> 0.0028s

== CreateClients: reverted (0.0054s) =============================== db:migrate:up

This task will invoke the up method of the specified migration only. The VERSION is specified as the timestamp portion of the migration file name.

$ rake db:migrate:down VERSION=20130316172801

== CreateClients: migrating ========================================

-- create_table(:clients)

-> 0.0260s

== CreateClients: migrated (0.0261s) =============================== db:migrate:redo

Executes the down method of the latest migration file, immediately followed by its up method. This task is typically used right after correcting a mistake in the up method or to test that a migration is working correctly.

$ rake db:migrate:redo

== AddTimesheetsUpdatedAtToUsers: reverting ========================

-- remove_column(:users, :timesheets_updated_at)

-> 0.0853s

== AddTimesheetsUpdatedAtToUsers: reverted (0.0861s) ===============

== AddTimesheetsUpdatedAtToUsers: migrating ========================

-- add_column(:users, :timesheets_updated_at, :datetime)

-> 0.3577s

== AddTimesheetsUpdatedAtToUsers: migrated (0.3579s) =============== db:migrate:reset

Resets your database for the current environment using your migrations (as opposed to using schema.rb).

6.5.1 db:migrate:status

Displays the status of all existing migrations in a nicely formatted table. It will show up for migrations that have been applied, and down for those that haven’t.

This task is useful in situations where you might want to check for recent changes to the schema before actually applying them (right after pulling from the remote repository, for example).

$ rake db:migrate:status

database: timesheet_development

Status Migration ID Migration Name


up 20130219005505 Create users

up 20130219005637 Create timesheets

up 20130220001021 Add user id to timesheets

down 20130220022039 Create events db:reset and db:setup

The db:setup creates the database for the current environment, loads the schema from db/schema.rb, then loads the seed data. It’s used when you’re setting up an existing project for the first time on a development workstation. The similar db:reset task does the same thing except that it drops and recreates the database first. db:schema:dump

Create a db/schema.rb file that can be portably used against any DB supported by Active Record. Note that creation (or updating) of schema.rb happens automatically any time you migrate. db:schema:load

Loads schema.rb file into the database for the current environment. db:seed

Load the seed data from db/seeds.rb as described in this chapter’s section Database Seeding. db:structure:dump

Dump the database structure to a SQL file containing raw DDL code in a format corresponding to the database driver specified in database.yml for your current environment.

$ rake db:structure:dump

$ cat db/development_structure.sql

CREATE TABLE `avatars` (


`user_id` int(11) DEFAULT NULL,

`url` varchar(255) COLLATE utf8_unicode_ci DEFAULT NULL,


) ENGINE=InnoDB DEFAULT CHARSET=utf8 COLLATE=utf8_unicode_ci;


I’ve rarely needed to use this task. It’s possible that some Rails teams working in conjunction with DBAs that exercise strict control over their application’s database schemas will need this task on a regular basis. db:test:prepare

Check for pending migrations and load the test schema by doing a db:schema:dump followed by a db:schema:load.

This task gets used very often during active development whenever you’re running specs or tests without using Rake. (Standard spec-related Rake tasks run db:test:prepare automatically for you.) db:version

Returns the timestamp of the latest migration file that has been run. Works even if your database has been created from db/schema.rb, since it contains the latest version timestamp in it:

ActiveRecord::Schema.define(version: 20130316172801)

6.6 Conclusion

This chapter covered the fundamentals of Active Record migrations. In the following chapter, we continue our coverage of Active Record by learning about how model objects are related to each other and interact via associations.