Keep track and run your database migrations with CFML.


Database migrations are a way of providing version control for your application's database. Changes to database 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 table in your database called cfmigrations. 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 table by calling the uninstall() method or by running migrate uninstall from commandbox-migrations. Running this method will rollback all ran migrations before dropping the cfmigrations table.

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.

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. The up and down functions are passed an instance of [email protected] and [email protected] as arguments. To learn more about the functionality and benefits of SchemaBuilder, QueryBuilder, and qb, please read the 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( SchemaBuilder schema, QueryBuilder query ) {
    	schema.create( "users", function( Blueprint table ) {
	    table.increments( "id" );
	    table.string( "email" );
	    table.string( "password" );
	} );

    function down( SchemaBuilder schema, QueryBuilder query ) {
        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.

In addition to schema changes, you can seed your database with data. This is especially useful when adding new columns and needing to seed the new columns with the correct data.

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 running migrations. (Each of these methods has a related command in commandbox-migrations.)


Run the next available migration in the desired direction.

directionStringtrueThe direction in which to look for the next available migration — up or down.
callbackfunctionfalsefunction() {}A callback to run after running the migration.


Run all available migrations in the desired direction.

directionStringtrueThe direction for which to run the available migrations — up or down.
callbackfunctionfalsefunction() {}A callback to run after running each migration.


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

Tips and tricks

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 ) {



$ box install cfmigrations
  • Oct 27 2017 12:31 AM
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