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Keep track and run your database migrations with CFML.


Migrations are a way of providing version control for your application's schema. Changes to schema are kept in timestamped files that are ran in order up and down.In the up function, you describe the changes to apply your migration. In the down function, you describe the changes to undo your migration.

Here's a simple example of that using simple queryExecute:

component {

    function up() {
        queryExecute( "
            CREATE TABLE `users` (
                `id` INT UNSIGNED AUTO_INCREMENT,
                `email` VARCHAR(255) NOT NULL,
                `password` VARCHAR(255) NOT NULL
        " );

    function down() {
        queryExecute( "
            DROP TABLE `users`
        " );


The name of this file could be something like 2017_09_03_043150_create_users_table.cfc. The first 17 characters of this file represent the timestamp of the migration and need to be in this format: YYYY_MM_DD_HHMISS. The reason for this is so cfmigrations can run the migrations in the correct order. You may have migrations that add columns to a table, so you need to make sure the table exists first. In this case, just make sure the timestamp for adding the new column comes after the timestamp for creating the table, like so:


An easy way to generate these files is to use commandbox-migrations and the migrate create command.

Installation and Uninstallation

In order to track which migrations have been ran, cfmigrations needs to install a tracking mechanism. For database migrations this creates a table in your database called cfmigrations by default. You can do this by calling the install() method or by running the migrate install command from commandbox-migrations.

If you find a need to, you can uninstall the migrations tracker by calling the uninstall() method or by running migrate uninstall from commandbox-migrations. Running this method will rollback all ran migrations before removing the migrations tracker.


The module is configured by default with a single migration service that interact with your database, optionally using qb. Multiple migration services with different managers may also be configured. The default manager for the cfmigrations is QBMigrationManager, but you may use others, such as those included with the cbmongodb and cbelasticsearch modules or roll your own.

The default configuration for the module settings are:

moduleSettings = {
    "cfmigrations" : {
        "managers" : {
            "default" : {
                // The manager handling and executing the migration files
                "manager" : "cfmigrations.models.QBMigrationManager",
                // The directory containing the migration files
                "migrationsDirectory" : "/resources/database/migrations",
                // The directory containing any seeds, if applicable
                "seedsDirectory" : "/resources/database/seeds",
                // A comma-delimited list of environments which are allowed to run seeds
                "seedEnvironments" : "development",
                "properties" : {
                    "defaultGrammar" : "BaseGrammar@qb"

With this configuration, the default migration manager may be retrieved via WireBox at migrationService:default.

Here is an example of a multi-manager migrations system. Each separate manager will require their own configuration properties.

moduleSettings = {
    "cfmigrations": {
        "managers": {
            "db1": {
                "manager": "cfmigrations.models.QBMigrationManager",
                "migrationsDirectory": "/resources/database/db1/migrations",
                "seedsDirectory": "/resources/database/db1/seeds",
                "properties": {
                    "defaultGrammar": "MySQLGrammar@qb",
                    "datasource": "db1",
                    "useTransactions": "false",    
            "db2": {
                "manager": "cfmigrations.models.QBMigrationManager",
                "migrationsDirectory": "/resources/database/db2/migrations",
                "seedsDirectory": "/resources/database/db2/seeds",
                "properties": {
                    "defaultGrammar": "PostgresGrammar@qb",
                    "datasource": "db2",
                    "useTransactions": "true"    
            "elasticsearch": {
                "manager": "cbelasticearch.models.migrations.Manager",
                "migrationsDirectory": "/resources/elasticsearch/migrations"

With this configuration the individual migration managers would be retreived as such:

  • db1 - getInstance( "migrationService:db1" )
  • db2 - getInstance( "migrationService:db2" )
  • elasticsearch - getInstance( "migrationService:elasticsearch" )

Migration Files

A migration file is a component with two methods up and down. The function up should define how to apply the migration. The function down should define how to undo the change down in up. For QBMigrationManager migrations (which is the default), the up and down functions are passed an instance of SchemaBuilder@qb and QueryBuilder@qb as arguments. To learn more about the functionality and benefits of SchemaBuilder, QueryBuilder, and qb, please read the QB documentation here. In brief, qb offers a fluent, expressive syntax that can be compiled to many different database grammars, providing both readability and flexibility.

Here's the same example as above using qb's SchemaBuilder:

component {

    function up( schema, qb ) {
    	schema.create( "users", function( t ) {
            t.increments( "id" );
            t.string( "email" );
            t.string( "password" );
        } );

    function down( schema, qb ) {
        schema.drop( "users" );


Migration files need to follow a specific naming convention — YYYY_MM_DD_HHMISS_[describe_your_changes_here].cfc. This is how cfmigrations knows in what order to run your migrations. Generating these files is made easier with the migrate create command from commandbox-migrations.

Using the injected qb instance, you can insert or update required data for your application. If you want to create test data for your application, take a look at seeders below instead.

There is no limit to what you can do in a migration. It is recommended that you separate changes to different tables to separate migration files to keep things readable.

Running Migrations

There are a few methods for working with migrations. (Each of these methods has a related command in commandbox-migrations.)

These methods can be run by injecting MigrationService@cfmigrations - for example: getInstance( "MigrationService@cfmigrations" ).runAllMigrations( "up" ) will run all migrations.


Run the next available migration in the desired direction.

Name Type Required Default Description
direction String true The direction in which to look for the next available migration — up or down.
postProcessHook function false function() {} A callback to run after running the migration.
preProcessHook function false function() {} A callback to run before running the migration.


Run all available migrations in the desired direction.

Name Type Required Default Description
direction String true The direction for which to run the available migrations — up or down.
postProcessHook function false function() {} A callback to run after running each migration.
preProcessHook function false function() {} A callback to run before running each migration.


Returns the database to an empty state by dropping all objects.


Returns an array of all migrations:

	fileName = "2019_12_18_195831_create-users-table.cfc",
	componentName = "2019_12_18_195831_create-users-table",
	absolutePath = "/var/www/html/app/resources/migrations/2019_12_18_195831_create-users-table.cfc",
	componentPath = "/app/resources/migrations/2019_12_18_195831_create-users-table.cfc",
	timestamp = 123455555,
	migrated = false,
	canMigrateUp = true,
	canMigrateDown = false,
	migratedDate = "2019-03-22"


Returns true if there are available migrations which can be run in the provided order.

Name Type Required Default Description
direction String true The direction for which to run the available migrations — up or down.


Seeding your database is an optional step that allows you to add data to your database in mass. It is usually used in development to create a populated environment for testing. Seeders should not be used for data required to run your application or to migrate data between columns. Seeders should be seen as entirely optional. If a seeder is never ran, your application should still work.

Seeders can be ran by calling the seed method on a MigrationService. It takes an optional seedName string to only run a specific seeder. Additionally, you can run all your seeders when migrating your database by passing seed = true to the up method.

By default, seeders can only be ran in development environments. This can be configured on each manager by setting a seedEnvironments key to either a list or array of allowed environments to run in.

A seeder is a cfc file with a single required method - run. For the QBMigrationManager, it is passed a QueryBuilder instance and a MockData instance, useful for creating fake data to insert into your database. (Other Migration Managers will have other arguments passed. Please refer to the documentation for your specific manager.)

component {

    function run( qb, mockdata ) {
        qb.table( "users" ).insert(
                $num = 25,
                "firstName": "firstName",
                "lastName": "lastName",
                "email": "email",
                "password": "string-secure"


Tips and tricks

Setting Schema

It's important to set the schema attribute for cfmigrations. Without it, cfmigrations can't tell the difference between a migration table installed in the schema you want and any other schema on the same database. You can set the schema by calling the setSchema( string schema ) method.

Default values in MS SQL server

MS SQL server requires some special treatment when removing columns with default values. Even though syntax is almost the same, MS SQL creates a special default constraint like DF_tablename_columname. When migrating down, this constraint has to be removed before dropping the column. In other grammars no special named constraint is created.


component {

    function up( schema, query   ) {
        schema.alter( "users", function ( table ) {
            table.addColumn( table.boolean( "hassuperpowers").default(0) );

    function down( schema, query  ) {
        schema.alter( "users", function( table ) {
            table.dropConstraint( "DF_users_hassuperpowers");
            table.dropColumn( "hassuperpowers" ) ;
        } );


Updating database content in a migration file

Sometimes you want to do multiple content updates or inserts in a migration. In this case you can use the QueryBuilder for the updates. When doing your second update you have to reset the Querybuilder object by using the newQuery method.


component {

    function up( SchemaBuilder schema, QueryBuilder query ) {
	    .where( "username", "superuser")
	    .update( {"hassuperpowers" = true} )
	    .update( {"hassuperpowers" = false} )

    function down( SchemaBuilder schema, QueryBuilder query ) {