In this section we will discuss how migrations work, how each of the provided migration classes work, and how to create your own custom one.

There are two kinds of migrations that DBFlow supports: Script-based SQL files and class annotation-based migrations.

How Migrations Work

In SQL databases, migrations are used to modify or change existing database schema to adapt to changing format or nature of stored data. In SQLite we have a limited ability compared to SQL to modify tables and columns of an existing database. There are only two kinds of modifications that exist: rename table and add a new column.

In DBFlow migrations are not only used to modify the structure of the database, but also other operations such as insert data into a database (for prepopulate), or add an index on a specific table.

Migrations are only run on an existing database except for the "0th" migration. Read initial database setup

Migration Classes

We recommend placing any Migration inside an associated @Database class so it's apparent the migration is tied to it. An example migration class:

@Database(version = 2)
public class AppDatabase {

    @Migration(version = 2, database = AppDatabase.class)
    public static class Migration2 extends BaseMigration {

        public void migrate(DatabaseWrapper database) {
          // run some code here
            .where(Employee_Table.job.eq("Laid Off"))
            .execute(database); // required inside a migration to pass the wrapper
@Database(version = 2)
object AppDatabase {

    @Migration(version = 2, database = AppDatabase.class)
    class Migration2 : BaseMigration() {

        override fun migrate(database: DatabaseWrapper) {
          // run some code here
            set Employee_Table.status.eq("Invalid")
            where Employee_Table.job.eq("Laid Off"))
            .execute(database) // required to pass wrapper in migration

The classes provide the ability to set a priority on the Migration so that an order is established. The higher the priority, that one will execute first.

Migration have three methods:

  1. onPreMigrate() - called first, do setup, and construction here.
  2. migrate() -> called with the DatabaseWrapper specified, this is where the actual migration code should execute.
  3. onPostMigrate() -> perform some cleanup, or any notifications that it was executed.

Migration files

DBFlow also supports .sql migration files. The rules on these follows must be followed:

  1. Place them in assets/migrations/{DATABASE_NAME}/{versionNumber}.sql. So that an example AppDatabase migration for version 2 resides in assets/migrations/AppDatabase/2.sql
  2. The file can contain any number of SQL statements - they are executed in order. Each statement must be on a single line or multiline and must end with ;
  3. Comments are allowed as long as they appear on an individual file with standard SQLite comment syntax --

Prevent Recursive Access to the DB

Since Migration occur when the database is opening, we cannot recursively access the database object in our models, SQLite wrapper statements, and other classes in DBFlow that are inside a Migration.

To remedy that, DBFlow comes with support to pass the DatabaseWrapper into almost all places that require it:

  1. All query language BaseQueriable objects such as Select, Insert, Update, Delete, etc have methods that take in the DatabaseWrapper
  2. Any subclass of BaseModel (Model does not provide the methods for simplicity)

Initial Database Setup

DBFlow supports Migration that run on version "0" of a database. When Android opens a SQLiteDatabase object, if the database is created, DBFlow calls on a Migration of -1 to 0th version. In this case, any Migration run at version = 0 will get called. Once a database is created, this migration will not run again. So if you had an existent database at version 1, and changed version to 2, the "0th" Migration is not run because the old version the database would have been 1.

Provided Migration Classes

In DBFlow we provide a few helper Migration subclasses to provide default and easier implementation:

  1. AlterTableMigration
  2. IndexMigration/IndexPropertyMigration
  3. UpdateTableMigration


The structural modification of a table is brought to a handy Migration subclass.

It performs both of SQLite supported operations:

  1. Rename tables
  2. Add columns.

For renaming tables, you should rename the Model class' @Table(name = "{newName}") before running this Migration. The reason is that DBFlow will know the new name only and the existing database will get caught up on it through this migration. Any new database created on a device will automatically have the new table name.

For adding columns, we only support SQLiteType (all supported ones here) operations to add or remove columns. This is to enforce that the columns are created properly. If a column needs to be a TypeConverter column, use the database value from it. We map the associated type of the database field to a SQLiteType in SQLiteType.java. So if you have a DateConverter that specifies a Date column converted to Long, then you should look up Long in the Map. In this case Long converts to INTEGER.

@Migration(version = 2, database = AppDatabase.class)
public class Migration2 extends AlterTableMigration<AModel> {

    public Migration2(Class<AModel> table) {

    public void onPreMigrate() {
        addColumn(SQLiteType.TEXT, "myColumn");
        addColumn(SQLiteType.REAL, "anotherColumn");
@Migration(version = 2, database = AppDatabase.class)
class Migration2 : AlterTableMigration<AModel>(AModel::class.java) {

    override fun onPreMigrate() {
        addColumn(SQLiteType.TEXT, "myColumn")
        addColumn(SQLiteType.REAL, "anotherColumn")

Index Migrations

An IndexMigration (and IndexPropertyMigration) is used to structurally activate an Index on the database at a specific version. See here for information on creating them.

IndexMigration does not require an IndexProperty to run, while IndexPropertyMigration makes use of the property to run.

An IndexMigration:

@Migration(version = 2, priority = 0, database = MigrationDatabase.class)
public static class IndexMigration2 extends IndexMigration<MigrationModel> {

  public IndexMigration2(@NonNull Class<MigrationModel> onTable) {

  public String getName() {
      return "TestIndex";
@Migration(version = 2, priority = 0, database = MigrationDatabase::class)
class IndexMigration2 : IndexMigration<MigrationModel>(MigrationModel::class.java) {

    override fun getName() = "TestIndex"

An IndexPropertyMigration:

@Migration(version = 2, priority = 1, database = MigrationDatabase.class)
public static class IndexPropertyMigration2 extends IndexPropertyMigration {

   public IndexProperty getIndexProperty() {
       return IndexModel_Table.index_customIndex;
@Migration(version = 2, priority = 1, database = MigrationDatabase.class)
class IndexPropertyMigration2 : IndexPropertyMigration {

   override fun getIndexProperty() = IndexModel_Table.index_customIndex

Update Table Migration

A simple wrapper around Update, provides simply a default way to update data during a migration.

@Migration(version = 2, priority = 2, database = MigrationDatabase.class)
public static class UpdateMigration2 extends UpdateTableMigration<MigrationModel> {

    * Creates an update migration.
    * @param table The table to update
   public UpdateMigration2(Class<MigrationModel> table) {
       set(MigrationModel_Table.name.eq("New Name"));


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