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In LoopBack, auto-migration helps the user create relational database schemas based on definitions of their models. Auto-migration can facilitate the synchronization of the backing database and models so that they match, such as in cases where the database needs to be changed in order to match the models. LoopBack offers two ways to do this:

  • Auto-migrate: Drop schema objects if they already exist and re-create them based on model definitions. Existing data will be lost.

  • Auto-update: Change database schema objects if there is a difference between the objects and model definitions. Existing data will be kept.

Part of the database schema definition can be specified via the model and/or property definition. For example, the following property setting is a common definition that indicates the schema, the table name, the data type and the length of a column, and also uses a column name that is different from the property name:

  settings: {
    postgresql: {schema: 'quarter2', table: 'my_model'},
export class MyModel extends Entity {
    type: 'string',
    required: false,
    id: false,
    postgresql: {
      columnName: 'my_name',
      dataType: 'VARCHAR',
      dataLength: 20,
      nullable: 'YES',
  myName: string;

For detailed connector-specific settings for defining model schemas and auto-migration, check out the specific connector under Database Connectors.


LoopBack applications are typically using RepositoryMixin to enhance the core Application class with additional repository-related APIs. One of such methods is migrateSchema, which iterates over all registered datasources and asks them to migrate schema of models they are backing. Datasources that do not support schema migrations are silently skipped.

In the future, we would like to provide finer-grained control of database schema updates, learn more in the GitHub issue #487 Database Migration Management Framework

Auto-update database at start

To automatically update the database schema whenever the application is started, modify your main script to execute app.migrateSchema() after the application was bootstrapped (all repositories were registered) but before it is actually started.


export async function main(options: ApplicationConfig = {}) {
  const app = new TodoListApplication(options);
  await app.boot();
  await app.migrateSchema();
  await app.start();

  const url = app.restServer.url;
  console.log(`Server is running at ${url}`);

  return app;

Auto-update the database explicitly

It’s usually better to have more control about the database migration and trigger the updates explicitly. To do so, projects scaffolded using lb4 app come with a custom CLI script src/migrate.ts to run schema migration. Check out e.g. Todo example app to see the full source code of the script.

Besides the migration CLI, new projects come with a handy npm script to run the migration too.

The migration process consists of two steps now:

  1. Build the project:

    $ npm run build
  2. Migrate database schemas (alter existing tables):

    $ npm run migrate

    Alternatively, you can also tell the migration script to drop any existing schemas:

    $ npm run migrate -- --rebuild

Skipping a dataSource for migration

In some cases you do not want specific datasource(s) to be included in the migration process. For example, depending on the process.env.NODE_ENV you might be restricted to ALL or specific datasources from altering the table schemas.

For such scenarios, you can include the property disableMigration in the datasource configuration. The Datasource will only be skipped from the migration process if you set it totrue.

If you do not include it or if you set it to false then your datasource will be migrated, this is to provide a non-breaking change with this new property.

The example below shows how to do so in our Todo example application.


const config = {
  name: 'db',
  connector: 'memory',
  localStorage: '',
  file: './data/db.json',
  disableMigration: true,

Implement additional migration steps

In some scenarios, the application may need to define additional schema constraints or seed the database with predefined model instances. This can be achieved by overriding the migrateSchema method provided by the mixin.

The example below shows how to do so in our Todo example application.


import {TodoRepository} from './repositories';
// skipped: other imports

export class TodoListApplication extends BootMixin(
) {
  // skipped: the constructor, etc.

  async migrateSchema(options?: SchemaMigrationOptions) {
    // 1. Run migration scripts provided by connectors
    await super.migrateSchema(options);

    // 2. Make further changes. When creating predefined model instances,
    // handle the case when these instances already exist.
    const todoRepo = await this.getRepository(TodoRepository);
    const found = await todoRepo.findOne({where: {title: 'welcome'}});
    if (found) {
      todoRepo.updateById(, {isComplete: false});
    } else {
      await todoRepo.create({title: 'welcome', isComplete: false});