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Yet Another Groovy DSL for Liquibase
branch: master

Groovy Liquibase

A pluggable parser for Liquibase that allows the creation of changelogs in a Groovy DSL, rather than hurtful XML. If this DSL isn't reason enough to adopt Liquibase, then there is no hope for you.


March 1, 2015

The Liquibase Groovy DSL now supports Liquibase 3.3.2, and is built with Groovy 2.4.1.

June 15, 2014

We are proud to announce the long awaited release of version 1.0.0 of the Liquibase Groovy parser. Version 1.0.0 uses version the latest release of Liquibase (3.1.1), and it appears to work fine with both Gradle 1.x releases as well as the upcoming Gradle 2.0 release.

Tim Berglund has asked me to take on the continued maintenance of this project, so I've had to change the maven group ID to one for which I have permission to publish on Maven Central. Going forward, this parser will be available under the net.saliman group id. The artifact ID, groovy-liquibase-dsl, will remain the same.

My thanks to Tim for the opportunity to help out with this great project.

Steve Saliman


Version 1.0.0 of the Groovy Liquibase DSL uses Liquibase 3, instead of Liquibase 2, and several things have been deprecated from the Groovy DSL to maintain compatibility with Liquibase XML. A list of deprecated items can be found in the Usage section. To upgrade to version 1.0.0, we strongly recommend the following procedure:

  1. Make sure all of your Liquibase managed databases are up to date by running an update on them before upgrading the Groovy DSL.

  2. Create a new, throw away database to test your Liquibase change sets. Run an update on this new database with the latest version of the Groovy DSL. This is important because of the deprecated items in the Groovy DSL, and because there are some subtle differences in the ways the different Liquibase versions generate SQL. For example, adding a default value to a boolean column in MySql using defaultValue: "0" worked fine in Liquibase 2, but in Liquibase 3, it generates SQL that doesn't work for MySql; defaultValueNumeric: 0 needs to be used instead.

  3. Once you are sure all of your change sets work with the latest Groovy DSL and Liquibase 3, clear all checksums that were calculated by Liquibase 2 by using the clearChecksums command in all databases.

  4. Finally, run a changeLogSync on all databases to calculate new checksums.


The DSL syntax is intended to mirror the Liquibase XML syntax directly, such that mapping elements and attributes from the Liquibase documentation to Groovy builder syntax will result in a valid changelog. Hence this DSL is not documented separately from the Liquibase XML format. We will, however let you know about the minor differences or enhancements to the XML format, and help out with a couple of the gaping holes in Liquibase's documentation of the XML.

Deprecated Items
  • In the Liquibase XML, you can set a sql attribute in a sqlFile change, but that doesn't make a lot sense, so this has been disabled in the Groovy DSL.
  • The documentation mentions a referencesUniqueColumn attribute of the addForeignKeyConstraint change, but what it doesn't tell you is that it is ignored. In the code, Liquibase has marked this item as being deprecated, so we've deprecated it as well, and we let you know about it.
  • If you were using the DSL prior to version 1.0.0, a changeSet could have an alwaysRun property. This is inconsistent with Liquibase and has been replaced in 1.0.0 with runAlways
  • Prior to 1.0.0, the DSL allowed a path attribute in an include. This is no longer allowed. includeAll should be used instead.
  • Prior to 1.0.0, the DSL allowed createStoredProcedure changes. This has been replaced with createProcedure.
  • Prior to 1.0.0, the DSL allowed a File object to be passed as an attribute to loadData and loadUpdateData changes. This is no longer supported, the path to the file should be used instead.
  • Prior to 1.0.0, the DSL allowed constraint attributes to be set as methods in a constraint closure. This is inconsistent with the rest of the DSL and has been removed.
Additions to the XML format:
  • The Groovy DSL supports a simplified means of passing arguments to the executeCommand change. Instead of:

    execute {
    arg(value: 'somevalue')

    You can use this the simpler form:

execute {
  arg 'somevalue'
  • The sql change does not require a closure for the actual SQL. You can just pass the string like this: sql 'select some_stuff from some_table' If you want to use the comments element of a sql change, you need to use the closure form, and the comment must be in the closure BEFORE the SQL, like this:

    sql {
    comment('we should not have deleted this...')
    'delete from my_table'
  • The stop change can take a message as an argument as well as an attribute. In other words, stop 'message' works as well as the more XMLish stop(message: 'message')
  • A customPrecondition can take parameters. the XMLish way to pass them is with param(name: 'myParam', value: 'myValue') statements in the customPrecondition's closure. In the Groovy DSL, you can also have myParam('myValue') * The validChecksum element of a change set is not well documented. Basically you can use this when changeSet's current checksum will not match what is stored in the database. This might happen if you, for example want to reformat a changeSet to add white space. This doesn't change the functionality of the changeset, but it will cause Liquibase to generate new checksums for it. The validateChecksum element tells Liquibase to consider the checksums in the validChecksum element to be valid, even if it doesn't match what is in the database. * The Liquibase documentation tells you how to set a property for a databaseChangeLog by using the property element. What it doesn't tell you is that you can also set properties by loading a property file. To do this, you can have property(file: '') in the closure for the databaseChangeLog. * Liquibase has an includeAll element in the databaseChangeLog that includes all the files in the given directory. The Groovy DSL implementation only includes groovy files, and it makes sure they are included in alphabetical order. This is really handy for keeping changes in a different file for each release. As long as the file names are named with the release numbers in mind, Liquibase will apply changes in the correct order. * Remember, the Groovy DSL is basically just Groovy closures, so you can use groovy code to do things you could never do in XML, such as this:
sql { """
  insert into some_table(data_column, date_inserted)
  values('some_data', '${new Date().toString()}')
Items that were left out of the XML documentation
  • The createIndex and dropIndex changes have an undocumented associatedWith attribute. From an old Liquibase forum, it appears to be an attempt to solve the problem that occurs because some databases automatically create indexes on primary keys and foreign keys, and others don't. The idea is that you would have a change to create the primary key or foreign key, and another to create the index for it. The index change would use the associatedWith attribute to let Liquibase know that this index will already exist for some databases so that Liquibase can skip the change if we are in one of those databases. The Liquibase authors do say it is experimental, so use at your own risk...
  • The executeCommand change has an undocumented os attribute. The os attribute is a string with a list of operating systems under which the command should execute. If present, the system property will be checked against this list, and the command will only run if the operating system is in the list.
  • The column element has some undocumented attributes that are pretty significant. They include:

    • valueSequenceNext, valueSequenceCurrent, and defaultValueSequenceNext, which appear to link values for a column to database sequences.

    • A column can be set auto-number if it the autoIncrement attribute is set to true, but did you know that you can also control the starting number and the increment interval with the startWith and incrementBy attributes?

  • The constraints elementt also has some hidden gems:
    • Some databases automatically create indexes for primary keys. The primaryKeyTablespace can be used to control the tablespace.
    • A foreign key can be made by using the references attribute like this: references: 'monkey(id)', It can also be done like this: referencedTableName: 'monkey', referencedColumnNames: 'id' for those who prefer to separate out the table from the column.
    • There is also a checkConstraint attribute, that appears to be useful for defining a check constraint, but I could not determine the proper syntax for it yet. For now, it may be best to stick to custom sql changes to define check constraints.
  • The documentation for version 3.1.1 of Liquibase mentions the new beforeColumn, afterColumn, and position attributes that you can put on a column statement to control where a new column is placed in an existing table. What the documentation leaves out is that these attributes don't work :-)


This code is released under the Apache Public License 2.0, just like Liquibase 2.0.


  • Support for the customChange. Using groovy code, liquibase changes and database SQL in a changeSet.
  • Support for extensions. modifyColumn is probably a good place to start.
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