Migrations

Define what happens when your database gets created or updated

Moor provides a migration API that can be used to gradually apply schema changes after bumping the schemaVersion getter inside the Database class. To use it, override the migration getter. Here’s an example: Let’s say you wanted to add a due date to your todo entries:

class Todos extends Table {
  IntColumn get id => integer().autoIncrement()();
  TextColumn get title => text().withLength(min: 6, max: 10)();
  TextColumn get content => text().named('body')();
  IntColumn get category => integer().nullable()();
  DateTimeColumn get dueDate => dateTime().nullable()(); // new, added column
}

We can now change the database class like this:

  @override
  int get schemaVersion => 2; // bump because the tables have changed

  @override
  MigrationStrategy get migration => MigrationStrategy(
    onCreate: (Migrator m) {
      return m.createAll();
    },
    onUpgrade: (Migrator m, int from, int to) async {
      if (from == 1) {
        // we added the dueDate property in the change from version 1
        await m.addColumn(todos, todos.dueDate);
      }
    }
  );

  // rest of class can stay the same

You can also add individual tables or drop them - see the reference of Migrator for all the available options. You can’t use the high-level query API in migrations - calling select or similar methods will throw.

sqlite can feel a bit limiting when it comes to migrations - there only are methods to create tables and columns. Existing columns can’t be altered or removed. A workaround is described here, it can be used together with customStatement to run the statements.

Complex migrations

Sqlite has builtin statements for simple changes, like adding columns or dropping entire tables. More complex migrations require a 12-step procedure that involes creating a copy of the table and copying over data from the old table. Moor 3.4 introduced the TableMigration api to automate most of this procedure, making it easier and safer to use.

To start the migration, moor will create a new instance of the table with the current schema. Next, it will copy over rows from the old table. In most cases, for instance when changing column types, we can’t just copy over each row without changing its content. Here, you can use a columnTransformer to apply a per-row transformation. The columnTransformer is a map from columns to the sql expression that will be used to copy the column from the old table. For instance, if we wanted to cast a column before copying it, we could use:

columnTransformer: {
  todos.category: todos.category.cast<int>(),
}

Internally, moor will use a INSERT INTO SELECT statement to copy old data. In this case, it would look like INSERT INTO temporary_todos_copy SELECT id, title, content, CAST(category AS INT) FROM todos. As you can see, moor will use the expression from the columnTransformer map and fall back to just copying the column otherwise.
If you’re introducing new columns in a table migration, be sure to include them in the newColumns parameter of TableMigration. Moor will ensure that those columns have a default value or a transformation in columnTransformer. Of course, moor won’t attempt to copy newColumns from the old table either.

Regardless of whether you’re implementing complex migrations with TableMigration or by running a custom sequence of statements, we strongly recommend to write integration tests covering your migrations. This helps to avoid data loss caused by errors in a migration.

Here are some examples demonstrating common usages of the table migration api:

Changing the type of a column

Let’s say the category column in Todos used to be a non-nullable text() column that we’re now changing to a nullable int. For simplicity, we assume that category always contained integers, they were just stored in a text column that we now want to adapt.

class Todos extends Table {
  IntColumn get id => integer().autoIncrement()();
  TextColumn get title => text().withLength(min: 6, max: 10)();
  TextColumn get content => text().named('body')();
-  IntColumn get category => text()();
+  IntColumn get category => integer().nullable()();
}

After re-running your build and incrementing the schema version, you can write a migration:

onUpgrade: (m, old, to) async {
  if (old <= yourOldVersion) {
    await m.alterTable(
      TableMigration(
        todos,
        columnTransformer: {
          todos.category: todos.category.cast<int>(),
        }
      ),
    );
  }
}

The important part here is the columnTransformer - a map from columns to expressions that will be used to copy the old data. The values in that map refer to the old table, so we can use todos.category.cast<int>() to copy old rows and transform their category. All columns that aren’t present in columnTransformer will be copied from the old table without any transformation.

Changing column constraints

When you’re changing columns constraints in a way that’s compatible to existing data (e.g. changing non-nullable columns to nullable columns), you can just copy over data without applying any transformation:

await m.alterTable(TableMigration(todos));

Renaming columns

If you’re renaming a column in Dart, note that the easiest way is to just rename the getter and use named: TextColumn newName => text().named('old_name')(). That is fully backwards compatible and doesn’t require a migration.

If you know your app runs on sqlite 3.25.0 or later (it does if you’re using sqlite3_flutter_libs), you can also use the renameColumn api in Migrator:

m.renameColumn(yourTable, 'old_column_name', yourTable.newColumn);

If you do want to change the actual column name in a table, you can write a columnTransformer to use an old column with a different name:

await m.alterTable(
  TableMigration(
    yourTable, 
    columnTransformer: {
      yourTable.newColumn: const CustomExpression('old_column_name')
    },
  )
)

Post-migration callbacks

The beforeOpen parameter in MigrationStrategy can be used to populate data after the database has been created. It runs after migrations, but before any other query. Note that it will be called whenever the database is opened, regardless of whether a migration actually ran or not. You can use details.hadUpgrade or details.wasCreated to check whether migrations were necessary:

beforeOpen: (details) async {
    if (details.wasCreated) {
      final workId = await into(categories).insert(Category(description: 'Work'));
    
      await into(todos).insert(TodoEntry(
            content: 'A first todo entry',
            category: null,
            targetDate: DateTime.now(),
      ));
    
      await into(todos).insert(
            TodoEntry(
              content: 'Rework persistence code',
              category: workId,
              targetDate: DateTime.now().add(const Duration(days: 4)),
      ));
    }
},

You could also activate pragma statements that you need:

beforeOpen: (details) async {
  if (details.wasCreated) {
    // ...
  }
  await customStatement('PRAGMA foreign_keys = ON');
}

During development

During development, you might be changing your schema very often and don’t want to write migrations for that yet. You can just delete your apps’ data and reinstall the app - the database will be deleted and all tables will be created again. Please note that uninstalling is not enough sometimes - Android might have backed up the database file and will re-create it when installing the app again.

You can also delete and re-create all tables every time your app is opened, see this comment on how that can be achieved.

Verifying migrations

Since version 3.4, moor contains experimental support to verify the integrity of your migrations.

To support this feature, moor can help you generate

  • a json represenation of your database schema
  • test databases operating on an older schema version

By using those test databases, moor can help you test migrations from and to any schema version.

Setup

To use this feature, moor needs to know all schemas of your database. A schema is the set of all tables, triggers and indices that you use in your database.

You can use the CLI tools to export a json representation of your schema. In this guide, we’ll assume a file layout like the following, where my_app is the root folder of your project:

my_app
  .../
  lib/
    database/
      database.dart
      database.g.dart
  test/
    generated_migrations/
      schema.dart
      schema_v1.dart
      schema_v2.dart
  moor_schemas/
    moor_schema_v1.json
    moor_schema_v2.json
  pubspec.yaml

The generated migrations implementation and the schema jsons will be generated by moor. To start writing schemas, create an empty folder named moor_schemas in your project. Of course, you can also choose a different name or use a nested subfolder if you want to.

Exporting the schema

To begin, let’s create the first schema representation:

$ mkdir moor_schemas
$ dart pub run moor_generator schema dump lib/database/database.dart moor_schemas/moor_schema_v1.json

This instructs the generator to look at the database defined in lib/database/database.dart and extract its schema into the new folder.

After making a change to your database schema, you can run the command again. For instance, let’s say we made a change to our tables and increased the schemaVersion to 2. We would then run:

$ dart pub run moor_generator schema dump lib/database/database.dart moor_schemas/moor_schema_v2.json

You’ll need to run this command everytime you change the schema of your database and increment the schemaVersion. Remember to name the files moor_schema_vX.json, where X is the current schemaVersion of your database.

Generating test code

After you exported the database schema into a folder, you can generate old versions of your database class based on those schema files. For verifications, moor will generate a much smaller database implementation that can only be used to test migrations.

You can put this test code whereever you want, but it makes sense to put it in a subfolder of test/. If we wanted to write them to test/generated_migrations/, we could use

$ dart pub run moor_generator schema generate moor_migrations/ test/generated/

Writing tests

After that setup, it’s finally time to write some tests! For instance, a test could look like this:

import 'package:my_app/database/database.dart';

import 'package:test/test.dart';
import 'package:moor_generator/api/migrations.dart';

// The generated directory from before.
import 'generated/schema.dart';

void main() {
  SchemaVerifier verifier;

  setUpAll(() {
    // GeneratedHelper() was generated by moor, the verifier is an api
    // provided by moor_generator.
    verifier = SchemaVerifier(GeneratedHelper());
  });

  test('upgrade from v1 to v2', () async {
    // Use startAt(1) to obtain a database connection with all tables
    // from the v1 schema.
    final connection = await verifier.startAt(1);
    final db = MyDatabase.connect(connection);

    // Use this to run a migration to v2 and then validate that the
    // database has the expected schema.
    await verifier.migrateAndValidate(db, 2);
  });
}

In general, a test looks like this:

  • Use verifier.startAt() to obtain a connection to a database with an initial schema. This database contains all your tables, indices and triggers from that version, created by using Migrator.createAll.
  • Create your application database (you can enable the generate_connect_constructor to use a DatabaseConnection directly)
  • Call verifier.migrateAndValidate(db, version). This will initiate a migration towards the target version (here, 2). Unlike the database created by startAt, this uses the migration logic you wrote for your database.

migrateAndValidate will extract all CREATE statement from the sqlite_schema table and semantically compare them. If it sees anything unexpected, it will throw a SchemaMismatch exception to fail your test.