Database migrations written in Scala
Latest commit 9134111 Nov 28, 2013 Blair Zajac Update fom Scala 2.11.0-M5 to 2.11.0-M7 as a cross compiler.
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Scala Migrations is a library to manage upgrades and rollbacks to database schemas. Migrations allow a source control system to manage together the database schema and the code using the schema. It is designed to allow multiple developers working on a project with a database backend to design schema modifications independently, apply the migrations to their local database for debugging and when complete, check them into a source control system to manage as one manages normal source code. Other developers then check out the new migrations and apply them to their local database. Finally, the migrations are used to migrate the production databases to the latest schema version.

The Scala Migrations library is written in Scala and makes use of the clean Scala language to write easy to understand migrations, which are also written in Scala. Scala Migrations provides a database abstraction layer that allows migrations to target any supported database vendor.


Scala Migrations is developed at Sony Pictures Imageworks to manage database versioning for internal applications. The design is based off Ruby on Rails Migrations and in fact shares the exact same schema_migrations table to manage the list of installed migrations.

Sample Migration

Here is a migration used by !VnP3, an internal Imageworks project.

package com.imageworks.vnp.dao.migrations

import com.imageworks.migration.{Limit,

 * Create the 'facility_set_membership' table, which is a many-to-many
 * join table between the 'facility' and 'facility_set' tables.  It
 * represents the sets that a facility is a member of and the
 * facilities that are in a set.  Rows do not have a their own primary
 * key.
class Migrate_20081216235329_FacilitySetMembership
  extends Migration
  val tableName = "facility_set_membership"

  def up() {
    createTable(tableName) { t =>
      t.varbinary("pk_facility", NotNull, Limit(16))
      t.varbinary("pk_facility_set", NotNull, Limit(16))
      t.bigint("created_micros", NotNull)
      t.bigint("modified_micros", NotNull)

    // There should only be one pair of (pk_facility_set, pk_facility)
    // tuples in the entire table, i.e., for one facility set, the
    // facility should only appear once.
             Array("pk_facility_set", "pk_facility"),

    addForeignKey(on(tableName -> "pk_facility"),
                  references("facility" -> "pk_facility"),

    addForeignKey(on(tableName -> "pk_facility_set"),
                  references("facility_set" -> "pk_facility_set"),

  def down() {

To migrate a database to the latest version requires code similar to:

import com.imageworks.migration.{DatabaseAdapter,

object Test
  def main(args: Array[String]) {
    val driver_class_name = "org.postgresql.Driver"
    val vendor = Vendor.forDriver(driver_class_name)
    val migration_adapter = DatabaseAdapter.forVendor(vendor, None)
    val data_source: javax.sql.DataSource = ...
    val migrator = new Migrator(data_source, migration_adapter)

    // Now apply all migrations that are in the
    // com.imageworks.vnp.dao.migrations package.
    migrator.migrate(InstallAllMigrations, "com.imageworks.vnp.dao.migrations", false)

To rollback a database to its pristine state:

  migrator.migrate(RemoveAllMigrations, "com.imageworks.vnp.dao.migrations", false)

To rollback two migrations:

  migrator.migrate(RollbackMigration(2), "com.imageworks.vnp.dao.migrations", false)

And to migrate to a specific migration, rollbacking back migrations that are newer than the requested migration version and installing migrations older than the requested version.

  migrator.migrate(MigrateToVersion(20090731), "com.imageworks.vnp.dao.migrations", false)

Supported Databases

Scala Migrations currently supports

  • Derby
  • MySQL
  • Oracle
  • PostgreSQL

Patches for other databases are welcome; however, you will need to submit a Contributor License Agreement.

Start using Scala Migrations

Maven Central hosts compiled jars for Scala 2.8.0 and greater, compiled on JDK 1.6/JDBC 4. All Scala Migrations artifacts have a groupId of com.imageworks.scala-migrations. A separate compilation and publish is done for each Scala version, with a distinct artifactId of the form scala-migrations_X.Y.Z, where X.Y.Z is the Scala version used to compile Scala Migrations.

Direct links to jars compiled against 2.8.0 or greater can be found at Maven Central. Jars for Scala 2.7.7 for JDBC 3 and JDBC 4 are on the Downloads page.


Add the following to your build.sbt:

libraryDependencies ++= Seq("com.imageworks.scala-migrations" %% "scala-migrations" % "1.1.1")


Add the following to the dependencies section of the ivy.xml file, replacing X.Y.Z with your Scala version.

<dependency org="com.imageworks.scala-migrations" name="-migrations_X.Y.Z" rev="1.1.1" />


Add the following snippet to the <dependencies /> section of the project's pom.xml file, replacing X.Y.Z with your Scala version.


Dependencies and Setup

Scala Migrations depends upon:

  • The Simple Logging Facade for Java (SLF4J).

    The Simple Logging Facade for Java or (SLF4J) serves as a simple facade or abstraction for various logging frameworks, e.g. log4j and java.util.logging, allowing the end user to plug in the desired logging framework at deployment time.

    Scala Migrations has a library dependency upon SLF4J's slf4j-api jar, which only provides an interface to a logging API. The application must chose a concrete logging implementation by ensuring that one of the following jars is available in the classpath. If no implementation jar is provided, the the no-operation logging implementation is used.

    • slf4j-log4j12

      Binding for log4j version 1.2, a widely used logging framework. You also need to place log4j.jar on your classpath.

    • slf4j-jcl

      Binding for Jakarta Commons Logging. This binding will delegate all SLF4J logging to JCL.

    • slf4j-jdk14

      Binding for java.util.logging, also referred to as JDK 1.4 logging.

    • slf4j-nop

      Binding for NOP, silently discarding all logging.

    • slf4j-simple

      Binding for Simple implementation, which outputs all events to System.err. Only messages of level INFO and higher are printed. This binding may be useful in the context of small applications.

      See for more information.

  • The log4jdbc logging JDBC wrapper that logs all JDBC operations.

    Since running a migration on a production database is dangerous operation that can leave irreversible damage if anything goes wrong, the JDBC connection given to all migrations is a log4jdbc net.sf.log4jdbc.ConnectionSpy that wraps the real connection. This logs all method calls so that any migration errors can be fully debugged. log4jdbc uses SLF4J; see the log4jdbc website on how to set up the loggers and logging level for log4jdbc messages.

    As of 1.0.3, Scala Migrations will use log4jdbc to wrap the real database connection if log4jdbc is found at runtime in the classpath, otherwise it will use the raw database connection and not do any SQL specific logging. No special work needs to be done by the migration author to use log4jdbc, besides making it available in the classpath. Before 1.0.3, Scala Migrations required that log4jdbc be in the classpath.

Migration Naming

In Scala Migrations, the migrations needs to be compiled and their *.class files need to be made available at runtime; the source files will not be available at runtime.

Scala Migrations then needs to know an ordering on the migrations, so the timestamp needs to be in the class name. Scala does not support naming a symbol such as 20080717013526_YourMigrationName because the name begins with a digit (unless one were to quote the name which would look odd), so the Scala Migrations looks for classes named


The time stamp can be generated using the following command on Unix systems:

   $ date -u +%Y%m%d%H%M%S

This is different than Ruby on Rails migrations which are in filenames of the form


and have a corresponding class name such as YourMigrationName. Ruby on Rails can find all the migration *.rb files for a project and load them at runtime and from the filename load the correct class name. The ordering to apply the migrations is contained in the filename, not the class name.

Unsupported Database Features

It is not a goal of Scala Migrations to check and report on the compatibility of a Scala Migrations specific feature with a database. For example, Oracle does not support the "ON UPDATE SET NULL" clause on a foreign key constraint. If a OnUpdate(SetNull) is specified for a foreign key constraint, then Scala Migrations will generate that clause and ask the database to execute it.

If Scala Migrations did attempt to check on the compatibility of each feature, then it would need to grow much larger to know which features worked on which database, and even worse, potentially know which features appear in which database versions. This is not something that the authors of Scala Migrations want to maintain.

Data Types

The following data types are supported listed with their mappings. If a database name is not specified, then the default mapping is used. More information on the mappings is below.

  • Bigint

    • Default: BIGINT
    • Oracle: NUMBER(19, 0)
  • Blob

    • Default: BLOB
    • PostgreSQL: BYTEA
  • Boolean

    • Default: BOOLEAN
    • Derby: Unsupported; even though Derby 1.7 supports a BOOLEAN type, Scala Migrations currently always throws an UnsupportedColumnTypeException
    • Oracle: Unsupported; an UnsupportedColumnTypeException is thrown if Boolean is used
  • Char

    • Default: CHAR
  • Decimal

    • Default: DECIMAL
    • Oracle: NUMBER
  • Integer

    • Default: INTEGER
    • Oracle: NUMBER(10, 0)
  • Smallint

    • Default: SMALLINT
    • Oracle: NUMBER(5, 0)
  • Timestamp

    • Default: TIMESTAMP
    • MySQL: TIMESTAMP but does not support fractional precision
  • Varbinary

    • Default: VARBINARY
    • Oracle: RAW
    • PostgreSQL: BYTEA
  • Varchar

    • Default: VARCHAR
    • Oracle: VARCHAR2

Boolean Mapping

Scala Migrations does not define a mapping for the Boolean data type in databases that do not have a native Boolean data type. The reason is that there are many ways of representing a Boolean value database and Scala Migrations is not an ORM layer, so this decision is left to the application developer.

Different representations that have been used in schemas include:

  • A CHAR(1) column containing a 'Y' or 'N' value. The column may have a CHECK constraint to ensure that the values are only 'Y' or 'N'.

  • An INTEGER column with 0 representing to false and all other values representing true.


Each database treats BLOB and VARBINARY differently.

Database Scala Migrations Type SQL Type Maximum Length (bytes) Specify Length? Specify Default? References Notes
Derby Blob BLOB 2,147,483,647 Optional, defaults to 2 GB No 1
Varbinary VARCHAR FOR BIT DATA 32,672 Required Yes 2
MySQL Blob LONGBLOB 4,294,967,295 No No 3
Varbinary VARBINARY 21,844 >= && <= 65,535 Required Yes 4 Stored in row
Oracle Blob BLOB 4,294,967,296 in Oracle 8, larger in newer versions No ?? 5 6
Varbinary RAW 2,000 Required ??
PostgreSQL Blob BYTEA 1,073,741,823 No Yes 7
Varbinary BYTEA 1,073,741,823 No Yes


Oracle does not have SMALLINT, INTEGER or BIGINT SQL types comparable to other databases, such such as Derby, MySQL and PostgreSQL. These other databases used a fixed sized signed integer with a limited range of values that can be stored in the column.

Type Storage Min value rax value
SMALLINT 2-byte signed integer -32768 32767
INTEGER 4-byte signed integer -2147483648 2147483647
BIGINT 8-byte signed integer -9223372036854775808 9223372036854775807

Oracle does support an INTEGER column type but it uses a NUMBER(38) to store it.

On Oracle, a Scala Migration using any of the SMALLINT, INTEGER and BIGINT types is mapped to a NUMBER with a precision smaller than 38.

Migration Type Oracle Type

This helps ensure the compatibility of any code running against an Oracle database so that it does not assume it can use 38-digit integer values in case the data needs to be exported to another database or if the code needs to work with other databases. Columns wishing to use a NUMBER(38) should use a DecimalType column.


There is a minor difference in the definition of the NUMERIC and DECIMAL types according to the SQL 1992 standard:

17) NUMERIC specifies the data type exact numeric, with the decimal
    precision and scale specified by the <precision> and <scale>.

18) DECIMAL specifies the data type exact numeric, with the decimal
    scale specified by the <scale> and the implementation-defined
    decimal precision equal to or greater than the value of the
    specified <precision>.

However, in practice, all databases we looked at implement them identically.

Auto-incrementing Column Default Values

Several databases natively support a default value for integer column data types that use as the next default value the next value from an automatically increasing sequence of integer values. The use of the AutoIncrement column option enables this feature for a column.

Here are the database mappings:

Character Set Encoding

Scala Migrations supports specifying the character set for Char and Varchar columns with the CharacterSet() column option, which takes the name of the character set as an argument. Currently, the only supported character set name is Unicode.

Here is how different databases handle character set encoding.

  • Derby

    "Character data types are represented as Unicode 2.0 sequences in Derby."

    So specifying CharacterSet(Unicode) does not change its behavior. Using any character set name besides Unicode as the argument to CharacterSet() raises a warning and is ignored.

  • MySQL

    MySQL supports 30+ character sets and and all of them can be simultaneously used; in fact, a table can have multiple character type columns, each with a different character set. See for reference.

    If no CharacterSet is used, then MySQL will use the database's or the server's default character set and the default character set's default collation. If CharacterSet(Unicode) is used, then Scala Migrations uses the utf8 character set with the utf8_unicode_ci collation, which is not MySQL's default utf8_general_ci collation for utf8, as utf8_unicode_ci is [ not incorrect].

    Users wishing to have more control on specifying character sets and collations can discuss this on the developers mailing list.

  • PostgreSQL

    The character set encoding is chosen when a database is created with the "createdb" command line utility or the


SQL statement. So specifying any CharacterSet has no effect.

  • Oracle

    Oracle only supports two character sets. The first uses the database character set which was chosen when the database was created. This encoding is used for CHAR, VARCHAR2 and CLOB columns. The second character set is called the national character set and is Unicode, which is used for NCHAR, NVARCHAR2 and NCLOB columns. There are two encodings available for the national character set, AL16UTF16 and UTF8. By default, Oracle uses AL16UTF16.

    Specifying no CharacterSet column option defaults the Char type to CHAR and the Varchar type to VARCHAR2. If CharacterSet(Unicode) is given, then Char uses NCHAR and Varchar uses NVARCHAR2. Using any character set name besides Unicode as the argument to CharacterSet() raises a warning and is ignored, resulting in CHAR and VARCHAR2 column types.


  • Index and foreign key names do not use the same naming convention as the Ruby on Rails migrations, so a port of Ruby on Rails migrations to Scala Migrations should specify the index name using the Name() case class as an option to add_index() or remove_index().