Implementing Database Migrations

Database Migrations Using Phinx

Database migrations can transform your database in many ways such as creating new tables, inserting rows, adding indexes and modifying columns. It avoids the use of writing MYSQL by hand and instead offers a powerful API for creating migrations using PHP code.

Advantages of using Phinx

  • Phinx keeps track of which migrations have been run so you can worry less about the state of your database and instead focus on building better software
  • Each migration is represented by a PHP class in a unique file. We can write our migrations using the Phinx PHP API, or raw SQL.
  • Phinx has an easy installation process and easy to use command line instructions and easy to Integrate with various other PHP tools (Phing, PHPUnit) and web frameworks.

Installating Phinx

Phinx should be installed using Composer. Composer is a tool for dependency management in PHP. We need to require the dependency in composer.json.

php composer.phar require robmorgan/phinx

Then run Composer:

php composer.phar install --no-dev

Now Create a folder in your database directory called migrations with adequate permissions. It is where we write our migrations. In engelsystem it is created in db directory

Phinx can now be executed from within your project:

php vendor/bin/phinx init

Writing Migrations For SQL files

Creating a New Migration

Let’s start by creating a new Phinx migration. Run Phinx using the create command. This will create a new migration in the format YYYYMMDDHHMMSS_my_new_migration.php where the first 14 characters are replaced with the current timestamp down to the second. This will create a skeleton file with a single method.

$ php vendor/bin/phinx create MyNewMigration

The File looks something like this

Screenshot from 2016-07-18 08:22:42

Explaining the File

The AbstractMigration Class

Abstraction class provides the necessary support to create your database migrations. All Phinx migrations extend from the AbstractMigration class. Phinx provides different methods in the abstraction class like change, up and down method.

The Change Method

This is the default migration method. I will explain how to write the change method for an example MYSQL query. For example following MYSQL query can also be executed using Phinx change method.


ALTER TABLE `AngelTypes` ADD `requires_driver_license` BOOLEAN NOT NULL;

Equivalent change method

public function change()
   $table = $this->table('AngelTypes');
   $table->addColumn('requires_driver_license', 'boolean', array('null' => 'false'))

The Up Method

We should use the up method to transform the database with your intended changes. For example following MYSQL query to create a new settings table can be executed using equivalent up method.


    `event_name` varchar(255) DEFAULT NULL,
   `buildup_start_date` int(11) DEFAULT NULL,
   `event_start_date` int(11) DEFAULT NULL,
   `event_end_date` int(11) DEFAULT NULL,
   `teardown_end_date` int(11) DEFAULT NULL,
   `event_welcome_msg` varchar(255) DEFAULT NULL

Equivalent up method

public function up()
 $table = $this->table('Settings');
 $table->addColumn('event_name', 'string', array('limit' => 255))
 ->addColumn('buildup_start_date', 'integer', array('limit' => 11))
 ->addColumn('event_start_date', 'integer', array('limit' => 11))
 ->addColumn('event_end_date', 'integer', array('limit' => 11))
 ->addColumn('teardown_end_date', 'integer', array( 'limit' => 11))
 ->addColumn('event_welcome_msg', 'string', array('limit' => 255))
 }We have now created a table. Now we will learn to insert data into the tables using migrations.MYSQL QueryINSERT INTO `Privileges` (`id`, `name`, `desc`) VALUES (39, 'admin_settings', 'Admin Settings');
 INSERT INTO `GroupPrivileges` (`id`, `group_id`, `privilege_id`) VALUES (218, -4, 39);public function up()
    // inserting into Privileges
   $Rows = [
     'id'   => 39,
     'name' => 'admin_settings',
     'desc' => 'Admin Settings'
  $this->insert('Privileges', $Rows);
  // inserting into GroupPrivileges.
   $rows = [
    'id'    => 218,
    'group_id'  => -4,
    'privilege_id' => 39                                                 
  $this->insert('GroupPrivileges', $rows);

The Down Method

The down method is automatically run by Phinx when you are migrating down. We should use the down method to reverse/undo the transformations described in the up method.


DELETE * FROM  `Users`;

Equivalent Down method

public function down()
        $this->execute('DELETE FROM Users');

Since we have learned how to write migrations. Now we will execute the created migrations.

Configuring phinx.yml

When you initialize your project using the init command, Phinx creates a default file called phinx.yml.We can edit the database name, environment. We need to add the password for mysql user. The file looks something like this.Screenshot from 2016-07-18 07:56:13

Executing the migrations

To Migrate the database we use Migrate command. It runs over all the available migrations. Command to migrate for development environment is:

$ phinx migrate -e development

To migrate to a specific version we use the --target parameter or -t for short.

$ phinx migrate -e development -t 20110103081132

To know whether all your migrations have run successfully we use the status command

$ phinx status -e development

After migrating the database for engelsystem. The status command gives the following output.