Best practice around putting rails database info into git

This maybe too vague a question, but I wonder if there’s some wisdom out
there for me to tap…

Sometimes when I get ready to commit, git says that db/schema.rb has
changed. This is weird, and I think it’s because I did a rake
db:migrate.

So my question is, what’s the best practice relating to putting bits of
the database (schema.rb and the databases themselves) into sourc
control. And what’s the best practice relating to running a rake
db:migrate after a git checkout of a new branch?

Anyone?

  • Pito
  1. I usually put my db/schema.rb to .gitignore. There’s some rake task
    to
    create your database not from migrations, but from schema.rb. But I
    didn’t
    see anybody alive doing this. So, you don’t really need this file in
    your
    repo.

  2. You run your new migrations as soon as you get them. So, after
    pulling
    new changes from remote branch

Vladimir R. wrote:

  1. I usually put my db/schema.rb to .gitignore. There’s some rake task
    to
    create your database not from migrations, but from schema.rb. But I
    didn’t
    see anybody alive doing this. So, you don’t really need this file in
    your
    repo.

  2. You run your new migrations as soon as you get them. So, after
    pulling
    new changes from remote branch

Thanks!!

– Pito

Pito S. wrote:

This maybe too vague a question, but I wonder if there’s some wisdom out
there for me to tap…

Sometimes when I get ready to commit, git says that db/schema.rb has
changed. This is weird, and I think it’s because I did a rake
db:migrate.

So my question is, what’s the best practice relating to putting bits of
the database (schema.rb and the databases themselves) into sourc
control. And what’s the best practice relating to running a rake
db:migrate after a git checkout of a new branch?

Beyond the issues with db/schema.rb, I think it’s also good practice to
not version control config/database.yml. You may be doing this already.

The reason for this is that database configurations for other member of
the team may be different, and you may not want to expose the production
database configuration to then entire team.

I do the following:

  1. Rename a basic config/database.yml file to
    config/example_database.yml.
  2. Add config/example_database.yml to Git
  3. Ignore config/database.yml in .gitignore
  4. Commit these changes
  5. Copy config/example_database.yml to config/database.yml

When other team members clone the repository they will also need to copy
the example_database.yml file and configure it for their own system.
This allow more freedom to other developers on the team to setup their
system the way they see fit.

For example: I may prefer to use the MySQL root user with no password
set on my development database, while other may prefer (or need) their
development database protected by using a different user with their own
password. Or, maybe I might prefer using SQLite in development while
others on the team prefer developing using MySQL.

Keeping this configuration out of the versioning system makes these
kinds of preference easier to manage. This technique also helps in cases
where not all team member are allowed to know the production database’s
password.

Vladimir R. wrote:

  1. I usually put my db/schema.rb to .gitignore. There’s some rake task
    to
    create your database not from migrations, but from schema.rb. But I
    didn’t
    see anybody alive doing this.

I do it.

So, you don’t really need this file in
your
repo.

Completely wrong. You should always create your new installations’
databases with rake db:schema:load , never by running migrations from
zero. Migrations are only for changing existing installations, not
for creating new ones from scratch.

Therefore, you need db/schema.rb in version control. There’s even a
comment in that file that says as much.

config/database.yml shouldn’t be in version control because it contains
passwords, but I like to put a sample version of that file (without
passwords) in the repository as an example of how it should be set up.

  1. You run your new migrations as soon as you get them. So, after
    pulling
    new changes from remote branch

Right.

Best,

Marnen Laibow-Koser
http://www.marnen.org
[email protected]

Pito S. wrote:

This maybe too vague a question, but I wonder if there’s some wisdom out
there for me to tap…

Sometimes when I get ready to commit, git says that db/schema.rb has
changed. This is weird, and I think it’s because I did a rake
db:migrate.

Yes, that would probably be why. Why do you think this is “weird”?
It’s normal behavior – schema.rb contains what Rails thinks your
database schema is.

So my question is, what’s the best practice relating to putting bits of
the database (schema.rb and the databases themselves)

schema.rb is not a “bit of the database”.

into sourc
control. And what’s the best practice relating to running a rake
db:migrate after a git checkout of a new branch?

To summarize my earlier posts: schema.rb definitely goes into version
control. I don’t bother putting SQLite databases themselves in the
repository, though (not that I use SQLite much).

Anyone?

  • Pito

Best,

Marnen Laibow-Koser
http://www.marnen.org
[email protected]

Pito,

I’m going to leave the entire db version control question for someone
else, but to answer your question about the schema.rb, if you run a
migration, it will change the structure of the database, which is what
schema.rb keeps track of. Rails will rewrite that file every for every
migration ran to reflect the current structure of the db ( structure
as in tables, column names, indexes, etc… Not data the records
stored in the db ). This file should be checked into git, and like any
file that changes under version control, git will let you know about
the changes and track them.

As your app grows, your migration files will be more prone to hving
problems and shouldn’t be used to create / setup the database. The
schema file is much better at recreating the db structure when
starting fresh ( like if you have to scale up your app and create a
new db on another server ). There are rake tasks for this, such as
rake db:reset ( caution, that one will wipe out all data in db), so
read up on them and they can save you many headaches as you have to
move your databases around.

-Matt

Matt,

Thanks for a great summary; very helpful, and thanks to the rest of the
list for always providing insightful comments and solutions to problems.
Great!!

  • Pito

Matt wrote:

Pito,

I’m going to leave the entire db version control question for someone
else, but to answer your question about the schema.rb, if you run a
migration, it will change the structure of the database, which is what
schema.rb keeps track of. Rails will rewrite that file every for every
migration ran to reflect the current structure of the db ( structure
as in tables, column names, indexes, etc… Not data the records
stored in the db ). This file should be checked into git, and like any
file that changes under version control, git will let you know about
the changes and track them.

As your app grows, your migration files will be more prone to hving
problems and shouldn’t be used to create / setup the database. The
schema file is much better at recreating the db structure when
starting fresh ( like if you have to scale up your app and create a
new db on another server ). There are rake tasks for this, such as
rake db:reset ( caution, that one will wipe out all data in db), so
read up on them and they can save you many headaches as you have to
move your databases around.

-Matt

Rob B. wrote:
[…]

Matt, Pito, Marnen, and anyone else,

  1. The opinion on whether db/schema.rb goes into the source repository
    has changed over time.

No. I’ve used Rails since 1.2.6. Every version has put a comment in
the schema.rb file that recommends putting it into version control.

It is an opinion. (I’ll give you some of mine.)

Opinion is not an excuse for advocating dangerous practices.

  1. When properly written, migration files are not “prone to having
    problems” and certainly do not have to get worse over time. The advise
    here is to define at least a minimal version of your AR model class
    nested within the migration class if you need to do any manipulation
    at the model level.

But you should never be running old migrations in the first place. If
you need version 1000 of the schema for a new installation, then don’t
start at zero and run 1000 migrations – just do rake db:schema:load and
have done with it. This is the core team’s recommendation, and I think
it’s a good one.

  1. I think that db/schema.rb does NOT belong in the repository.

Why not? Without it, you can’t load the schema with Rake.

This is particularly true in a multi-developer environment where
migrations are being initially created on different branches.

I don’t see how this makes a difference. Your VCS should be able to
merge the schema.rb files. If not, get a better VCS.

The
database itself isn’t going into the repository after all.

That’s a red herring.

If you need
the file, run a rake db:schema:dump or just run migrations.

No! You need the file so that rake db:schema:load is possible. You’ve
got it completely backwards.

If you
think about why the migration numbering (file naming) was changed from
sequence number to timestamp, you’ll realize that the practice of such
“interleaved” migrations was a much bigger pain-point than what to do
about db/schema.rb.

I don’t really understand what you’re getting at here.

  1. Unless you’re initializing (inserting) data via migration, running
    all the migrations is really not much different than doing a
    db:schema:load because all the migrations are operating on empty
    tables.

How can you say this with a straight face? There is no reason at all
to run lots of migrations rather than doing a simple schema load.

(Besides, if you have to “scale up your app”, you probably
aren’t adding a new empty database, but creating a master-slave or
sharding for performance.)

Another red herring.

Rob, I know you know a lot about the Rails framework, but your advice
here will make dealing with databases far more difficult than it needs
to be.

-Rob

Rob B. http://agileconsultingllc.com
[email protected]

Best,
–Â
Marnen Laibow-Koser
http://www.marnen.org
[email protected]

On Apr 21, 2010, at 3:12 AM, Matt wrote:

So my question is, what’s the best practice relating to putting

As your app grows, your migration files will be more prone to hving
problems and shouldn’t be used to create / setup the database. The
schema file is much better at recreating the db structure when
starting fresh ( like if you have to scale up your app and create a
new db on another server ). There are rake tasks for this, such as
rake db:reset ( caution, that one will wipe out all data in db), so
read up on them and they can save you many headaches as you have to
move your databases around.

-Matt

Matt, Pito, Marnen, and anyone else,

  1. The opinion on whether db/schema.rb goes into the source repository
    has changed over time. It is an opinion. (I’ll give you some of mine.)

  2. When properly written, migration files are not “prone to having
    problems” and certainly do not have to get worse over time. The advise
    here is to define at least a minimal version of your AR model class
    nested within the migration class if you need to do any manipulation
    at the model level.

  3. I think that db/schema.rb does NOT belong in the repository.
    This is particularly true in a multi-developer environment where
    migrations are being initially created on different branches. The
    database itself isn’t going into the repository after all. If you need
    the file, run a rake db:schema:dump or just run migrations. If you
    think about why the migration numbering (file naming) was changed from
    sequence number to timestamp, you’ll realize that the practice of such
    “interleaved” migrations was a much bigger pain-point than what to do
    about db/schema.rb.

  4. Unless you’re initializing (inserting) data via migration, running
    all the migrations is really not much different than doing a
    db:schema:load because all the migrations are operating on empty
    tables. (Besides, if you have to “scale up your app”, you probably
    aren’t adding a new empty database, but creating a master-slave or
    sharding for performance.)

-Rob

Rob B. http://agileconsultingllc.com
[email protected]

On Apr 22, 4:04 pm, Rob B. [email protected]
wrote:

However, it is that same experience that has led me to the conclusion
that keeping db/schema.rb in the source repository is wrong. It is
derived data and I would no more put it into the repository than I
would have someone put their object files compiled from C or their
class files compiled from Java in there.

I think there is a difference between an app like mephisto or similar
where many people are going to be deploying instances all over the
place and a private app for which there is only ever going to be one
deploy. With the latter, the database is the definition of the schema
and you don’t care about people deploying the app from scratch because
no one will

Fred

On Apr 22, 2010, at 9:06 AM, Marnen Laibow-Koser wrote:

Rob B. wrote:
[…]

Matt, Pito, Marnen, and anyone else,

  1. The opinion on whether db/schema.rb goes into the source
    repository
    has changed over time.

No. I’ve used Rails since 1.2.6. Every version has put a comment in
the schema.rb file that recommends putting it into version control.

I’ve been using Rails since 0.13 and I’ll restate that this opinion
has changed.
I can’t find it at the moment, but there WAS a version that
specifically said in
that comment to NOT put the file into source control. At least in
1.2.2, there
is no comment either way.

It is an opinion. (I’ll give you some of mine.)

Opinion is not an excuse for advocating dangerous practices.

“Dangerous”? Well, that’s certainly an opinion. :wink:

But you should never be running old migrations in the first place. If
you need version 1000 of the schema for a new installation, then don’t
start at zero and run 1000 migrations – just do rake db:schema:load
and
have done with it. This is the core team’s recommendation, and I
think
it’s a good one.

I have helped other developers who have created several migrations in
development, which were applied approximately when created, that were
subsequently unable to run when deployed to production. The very same
recommendations that guard against this kind of problem will make it
possible to run those 1000 migrations (or any subsequence) without
problem.

merge the schema.rb files. If not, get a better VCS.
Yikes! No! The database itself holds the official version of the
schema. If I merge changes from a master branch into my development
branch, I will run any new migrations, but I certainly don’t want some
merge tool to give me a new schema.rb. Depending on the actual
content of the migrations on different branches and the order in which
they are run, the actual schema might be slightly different due to
the rules for where new columns are placed on a table.

You’ve
got it completely backwards.

You assume that I need to run db:schema:load, which I don’t.

If you
think about why the migration numbering (file naming) was changed
from
sequence number to timestamp, you’ll realize that the practice of
such
“interleaved” migrations was a much bigger pain-point than what to do
about db/schema.rb.

I don’t really understand what you’re getting at here.

When migrations were sequentially numbered, two developers on separate
branches might both create migration 005 for different purposes. This
was a problem. The chance that two developers both create migration
20100422105524 is acceptable small. Of course, they will probably be
executed in a different order and if they both add a column to the
same table, those columns will likewise be in a different order. If db/
schema.rb is in the repository, then lots of commits will have
effectively meaningless changes and unless the current HEAD has my
version is it not going to truly represent what’s in my database
schema.

  1. Unless you’re initializing (inserting) data via migration, running
    all the migrations is really not much different than doing a
    db:schema:load because all the migrations are operating on empty
    tables.

How can you say this with a straight face? There is no reason at
all

to run lots of migrations rather than doing a simple schema load.

The reason is deploying to an existing production database. You can’t
do a schema load. The proper way to apply the “new” migrations (which
might be kinda old if the last production deploy wasn’t so recent) is
a db:migrate. As I’ve stated, you can get into trouble with mismatches
between migrations (which don’t change after being created and
shouldn’t if created properly) and models (which obviously change
over time).

I have projects with 210 and 204 migrations as well as many with
fewer. Some of the migrations deal with rather nasty data
manipulations to maintain data relationships when the associations are
flipped around. It’s not something that I would recommend, but the
definition of “reasonable” can change dramatically when a client
shifts the way he thinks about the data and its evolution.

As an experiment, I set up a new environment for the 204 migration
project and ran the migrations from scratch. It takes about 8
minutes. There is about 1 minute of startup time, there are several
migrations that load some data including one that takes a bit over 3
minutes to put a few tens of thousands of research datapoints into a
set of tables. I’m OK with that amount of time for something as
significant as creating a new environment.

(Besides, if you have to “scale up your app”, you probably
aren’t adding a new empty database, but creating a master-slave or
sharding for performance.)

Another red herring.

Well, if you can “scale up your app” by starting from an empty schema,
go ahead. Perhaps initializing the shards, but then I’d start with the
db/schema.rb from production, not something from the repository which
almost certainly reflects a development environment however close to
production that might be.

Rob, I know you know a lot about the Rails framework, but your advice
here will make dealing with databases far more difficult than it needs
to be.

If I help someone who recalls some of these nuggets of my wisdom and
experience at a time where migrations give them trouble, then I will
have made a positive difference.

However, it is that same experience that has led me to the conclusion
that keeping db/schema.rb in the source repository is wrong. It is
derived data and I would no more put it into the repository than I
would have someone put their object files compiled from C or their
class files compiled from Java in there.

http://www.marnen.org
[email protected]

I’m sure we’ll meet again! Take care,

-Rob

Rob B. http://agileconsultingllc.com
[email protected]

Frederick C. wrote:

On Apr 22, 4:04�pm, Rob B. [email protected]
wrote:

However, it is that same experience that has led me to the conclusion �
that keeping db/schema.rb in the source repository is wrong. �It is �
derived data and I would no more put it into the repository than I �
would have someone put their object files compiled from C or their �
class files compiled from Java in there.

I think there is a difference between an app like mephisto or similar
where many people are going to be deploying instances all over the
place and a private app for which there is only ever going to be one
deploy.

I disagree. The severity is different, but the issues are the same.

With the latter, the database is the definition of the schema
and you don’t care about people deploying the app from scratch because
no one will

Two words: staging server.

Fred

Best,

Marnen Laibow-Koser
http://www.marnen.org
[email protected]

Rob B. wrote:

On Apr 22, 2010, at 9:06 AM, Marnen Laibow-Koser wrote:

Rob B. wrote:
[…]

Matt, Pito, Marnen, and anyone else,

  1. The opinion on whether db/schema.rb goes into the source
    repository
    has changed over time.

No. I’ve used Rails since 1.2.6. Every version has put a comment in
the schema.rb file that recommends putting it into version control.

I’ve been using Rails since 0.13 and I’ll restate that this opinion
has changed.
I can’t find it at the moment, but there WAS a version that
specifically said in
that comment to NOT put the file into source control. At least in
1.2.2, there
is no comment either way.

I’ll get out my old versions of Rails and look. However, it’s pretty
much irrelevant, because look what current versions say:

Note that this schema.rb definition is the authoritative source for

your database schema. If you need

to create the application database on another system, you should be

using db:schema:load, not running

all the migrations from scratch. The latter is a flawed and

unsustainable approach (the more migrations

you’ll amass, the slower it’ll run and the greater likelihood for

issues).

It’s strongly recommended to check this file into your version control

system.

That’s pretty definitive.

[…]

But you should never be running old migrations in the first place. If
you need version 1000 of the schema for a new installation, then don’t
start at zero and run 1000 migrations – just do rake db:schema:load
and
have done with it. This is the core team’s recommendation, and I
think
it’s a good one.

I have helped other developers who have created several migrations in
development, which were applied approximately when created, that were
subsequently unable to run when deployed to production.

And why was this so?

The very same
recommendations that guard against this kind of problem will make it
possible to run those 1000 migrations (or any subsequence) without
problem.

No. There is a difference between running a days-old migration and a
years-old migration.

merge the schema.rb files. If not, get a better VCS.
Yikes! No! The database itself holds the official version of the
schema. If I merge changes from a master branch into my development
branch, I will run any new migrations, but I certainly don’t want some
merge tool to give me a new schema.rb.

For changing the schema on an existing installation, I agree with you
– run the migrations. For a new installation, use rake db:schema:load.
That implies that you need schema.rb in the VCS. How much more clearly
can I say this?

Depending on the actual
content of the migrations on different branches and the order in which
they are run, the actual schema might be slightly different due to
the rules for where new columns are placed on a table.

The order of columns on a DB table is immaterial. You should be able to
run rake db:schema:load for a new installation and immediately get a
usable DB.

You’ve
got it completely backwards.

You assume that I need to run db:schema:load, which I don’t.

Why do you believe you don’t? Because you don’t understand what it’s
for? Because you never do new installations?

I’ll submit that you do need to run db:schema:load, and you just don’t
know it because you don’t understand what it’s good for.

If you
think about why the migration numbering (file naming) was changed
from
sequence number to timestamp, you’ll realize that the practice of
such
“interleaved” migrations was a much bigger pain-point than what to do
about db/schema.rb.

I don’t really understand what you’re getting at here.

When migrations were sequentially numbered, two developers on separate
branches might both create migration 005 for different purposes. This
was a problem. The chance that two developers both create migration
20100422105524 is acceptable small.

OK, now I see what you mean. Yes.

Of course, they will probably be
executed in a different order and if they both add a column to the
same table, those columns will likewise be in a different order.

So what? Column order is immaterial.

If db/
schema.rb is in the repository, then lots of commits will have
effectively meaningless changes

How do you figure that?

and unless the current HEAD has my
version is it not going to truly represent what’s in my database
schema.

Sure it is – modulo immaterial things like column order.

  1. Unless you’re initializing (inserting) data via migration, running
    all the migrations is really not much different than doing a
    db:schema:load because all the migrations are operating on empty
    tables.

How can you say this with a straight face? There is no reason at
all

to run lots of migrations rather than doing a simple schema load.

The reason is deploying to an existing production database. You can’t
do a schema load.

Right. That’s what migrations are for. That’s the only thing
migrations are for – changing an existing database.

The proper way to apply the “new” migrations (which
might be kinda old if the last production deploy wasn’t so recent)

Then you’ve got bigger problems. If you can’t do lots of little
deploys, then you will wind up in integration hell anyway, and
migrations will be the least of your worries.

is
a db:migrate. As I’ve stated, you can get into trouble with mismatches
between migrations (which don’t change after being created and
shouldn’t if created properly) and models (which obviously change
over time).

If you’re deploying frequently enough, there will be no issue.

I have projects with 210 and 204 migrations as well as many with
fewer. Some of the migrations deal with rather nasty data
manipulations to maintain data relationships when the associations are
flipped around. It’s not something that I would recommend, but the
definition of “reasonable” can change dramatically when a client
shifts the way he thinks about the data and its evolution.

As an experiment, I set up a new environment for the 204 migration
project and ran the migrations from scratch. It takes about 8
minutes.

That’s a long time, but that’s the least of the problems.

There is about 1 minute of startup time, there are several
migrations that load some data including one that takes a bit over 3
minutes to put a few tens of thousands of research datapoints into a
set of tables.

Wow, it just gets worse. :slight_smile: Seed data never, ever belongs in migrations
– partly because it makes schema loading impossible, and partly because
migrations are only about the schema, not the data. Use seed-fu or
Rails 2.3’s built-in seeding.

I’m OK with that amount of time for something as
significant as creating a new environment.

Yes, it’s a one-time task. But it’s still wrong. :slight_smile:

(Besides, if you have to “scale up your app”, you probably
aren’t adding a new empty database, but creating a master-slave or
sharding for performance.)

Another red herring.

Well, if you can “scale up your app” by starting from an empty schema,
go ahead. Perhaps initializing the shards, but then I’d start with the
db/schema.rb from production, not something from the repository which
almost certainly reflects a development environment however close to
production that might be.

Still a red herring. I want new installations to be easy to create –
not for scalability, which would certainly use DB replication, but for
people actually creating a new, independent instance of the app – say,
a test environment, or simply someone else installing a Rails app that’s
meant for external use.

Rob, I know you know a lot about the Rails framework, but your advice
here will make dealing with databases far more difficult than it needs
to be.

If I help someone who recalls some of these nuggets of my wisdom and
experience at a time where migrations give them trouble, then I will
have made a positive difference.

However, it is that same experience that has led me to the conclusion
that keeping db/schema.rb in the source repository is wrong. It is
derived data and I would no more put it into the repository than I
would have someone put their object files compiled from C or their
class files compiled from Java in there.

schema.rb is certainly derived data to a point. However, it is also the
only reliable source of information about what the DB schema should look
like at a given point in history. I probably would not have thought to
put it into version control had I not seen that note from the core team,
but having done so and thought about it, I believe that it must go into
version control. It contains information that cannot be reliably
derived except by going through the process that it was designed to
circumvent.

To continue the compilation analogy: you might not put your binaries
into the repository with the source code – but you’d surely want to
make them available for people who didn’t care to build from source.

There are many good reasons to have schema.rb in version control. There
are few if any to do otherwise.

Best,

Marnen Laibow-Koser
http://www.marnen.org
[email protected]

On Apr 22, 9:55 pm, Rob B. [email protected]
wrote:

“only ever going to be one deploy” ??

When does the app work right the very first time and never has to be
changed?

Sorry that wasn’t very clear. a better phrasing might be “only one
deployment” (which you of course keep working on and updating as
needed)

Fred

On Apr 22, 2010, at 4:23 PM, Frederick C. wrote:

I think there is a difference between an app like mephisto or similar
where many people are going to be deploying instances all over the
place and a private app for which there is only ever going to be one
deploy. With the latter, the database is the definition of the schema
and you don’t care about people deploying the app from scratch because
no one will

Fred

“only ever going to be one deploy” ??

When does the app work right the very first time and never has to be
changed?

Your second sentence sounds like you’ve come around to my point: “the
database is the definition of the schema”
Something goes into the repository in order to track its changes over
time, share it with other developers, and hold the definitive copy to
be deployed. Things that don’t go into the repository are things
that don’t need to be tracked (e.g., log files), aren’t or shouldn’t
be shared (e.g., passwords and private config like database.yml for
production), or aren’t the definitive copy (e.g., like db/schema.rb
unless you’re putting it back into the repo from the production
environment).

-Rob

Rob B. http://agileconsultingllc.com
[email protected]

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