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Rails migrations in non-Rails (and non Ruby) projects.


In the 1.0 release we have moved to using Rails 3 migrations instead of maintaining our own migration related code. Just about anything you can do with Rails 3 migrations you can now do with Standalone Migrations too! This removed 95% of the code we have to maintain. Big thanks to Michael Grosser for undertaking this major rewrite!


Standalone Migrations relies on the contributions of the open-source community! To submit a fix or an enhancement fork the repository, checkout the develop branch, make your changes, add your name to the Contributors section in README.markdown, and send us a pull request! If you're active and do good work we'll add you as a collaborator!


Install Ruby, RubyGems and a ruby-database driver (e.g. gem install mysql) then:

sudo gem install standalone_migrations

Add to Rakefile in your projects base directory:

  require 'tasks/standalone_migrations'
rescue LoadError => e
  puts "gem install standalone_migrations to get db:migrate:* tasks! (Error: #{e})"

Add database configuration to db/config.yml in your projects base directory e.g.:

  adapter: sqlite3
  database: db/development.sqlite3
  pool: 5
  timeout: 5000

  adapter: mysql
  encoding: utf8
  reconnect: false
  database: somedatabase_dev
  pool: 5
  username: root
  socket: /var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock

test: &test
  adapter: sqlite3
  database: db/test.sqlite3
  pool: 5
  timeout: 5000

To create a new database migration:

rake db:new_migration name=FooBarMigration
edit db/migrate/20081220234130_foo_bar_migration.rb

... and fill in the up and down migrations Cheatsheet.

If you really want to, you can just execute raw SQL:

def self.up
  execute "insert into foo values (123,'something');"

def self.down
  execute "delete from foo where field='something';"

Even better, you can use the generate task to create the initial migration

The general form is:

rake db:generate model="model_name" fields="type:column_name0 type:column_name1 ... type:column_namen"

You can have as many fields as you would like.

An example to create a Person table with 3 columns (and it will automatically add the t.timestamps line)

rake db:generate model="Person" fields="string:first_name string:last_name integer:age"

This will create a migration in db/migrate/

class CreatePerson < ActiveRecord::Migration
  def self.up
    create_table :Person do |t|
      t.string :first_name
      t.string :last_name
      t.integer :age

  def self.down
    drop_table :Person

To apply your newest migration:

rake db:migrate

To migrate to a specific version (for example to rollback)

rake db:migrate VERSION=20081220234130

To migrate a specific database (for example your "testing" database)

rake db:migrate DB=test ... or ...
rake db:migrate RAILS_ENV=test

To execute a specific up/down of one single migration

rake db:migrate:up VERSION=20081220234130

To revert your last migration

rake db:rollback

To revert your last 3 migrations

rake db:rollback STEP=3

Custom configuration

By default, Standalone Migrations will assume there exists a "db/" directory in your project. But if for some reason you need a specific directory structure to work with, you can use a configuration file named .standalone_migrations in the root of your project containing the following:

    seeds: db/seeds.rb
    migrate: db/migrate
    schema: db/schema.rb
    database: db/config.yml

These are the configurable options available. You can omit any of the keys and Standalone Migrations will assume the default values.

Changing environment config in runtime

If you are using Heroku or have to create or change your connection configuration based on runtime aspects (maybe environment variables), you can use the StandaloneMigrations::Configurator.environments_config method. Check the usage example:

require 'tasks/standalone_migrations'

StandaloneMigrations::Configurator.environments_config do |env|

  env.on "production" do

    if (ENV['DATABASE_URL'])
      db = URI.parse(ENV['DATABASE_URL'])
      return {
        :adapter  => db.scheme == 'postgres' ? 'postgresql' : db.scheme,
        :host     =>,
        :username => db.user,
        :password => db.password,
        :database => db.path[1..-1],
        :encoding => 'utf8'



You have to put this anywhere on your Rakefile. If you want to change some configuration, call the #on method on the object received as argument in your block passed to ::environments_config method call. The #on method receives the key to the configuration that you want to change within the block. The block should return your new configuration hash or nil if you want the configuration to stay the same.

Your logic to decide the new configuration need to access some data in your current configuration? Then you should receive the configuration in your block, like this:

require 'tasks/standalone_migrations'

StandaloneMigrations::Configurator.environments_config do |env|

  env.on "my_custom_config" do |current_custom_config|
    p current_custom_config
    # => the values on your current "my_custom_config" environment



This work is originally based on Lincoln Stoll's blog post and David Welton's post.

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