SQL Server Database Change Management with Liquibase

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We are an agile software development team. We develop, test and deploy new versions of our application code in short sprints. Each sprint sees us adding new features, fixing bugs, etc. Our automated Continuous Integration (CI) process makes it easy for us to deploy code without breaking anything. However we have to make changes to the SQL Server database backend sometimes and it's a manual process. The database schema files are kept in version control system, but there's no simple way to manage those changes at database level. For example, we can't see who made a database change and when, or what version of database schema we are running in an environment. Is there a simple way to manage this process?


Most IT shops see their applications going through a lifecycle. As the SQL Server application is upgraded, enhanced or retired, changes to the database structure become inevitable. There is also a degree of frequency involved in these changes. Large, monolithic applications have very few changes made over time. Compared to that, today's Internet-enabled applications have a short delivery cycle. Application developers release small, but frequent changes to the code and the code is Continuously Integrated (CI) with what's stored in the Version Control System (VCS).

Part of these frequent changes may involve changing the SQL Server database structure. Perhaps a new feature needs a new column to be added or a bug fix needs a stored procedure to be changed. In traditional waterfall method, many different database changes are packaged in one "big bang" release. In agile software development, multiple small database changes can happen over a short period of time.

While changes to the application code can be managed by version control systems (SVN, Git, etc.) and CI tools (Bamboo, Jenkins, etc.), database changes don't follow the same principle. Some changes can be handled by a CI tool, some changes need a SQL Server DBA manually running some script while other changes can be ad-hoc as part of maintenance. Unfortunately standardizing all these methods is not so simple, and often this is the part that slows down the whole application release process.

Here are some examples:

Scenario 1: Your developers have given you a large SQL script file to run in the production server. The script was created by reverse engineering the development database.  However, when you run the script, it throws multiple errors. The change is cancelled and rolled back, but now you have a production database different from development, test and QA environment. How do you track this version difference? As the application release cycles progresses, more changes are made to the non-production databases. How do you add up all those changes in the script file so when you run it, it will bring up production database to the latest version?

Scenario 2: Different developers in your team are working on different parts of your database. How do you add up all those changes so they are applied in correct order? If the changes are made in different release cycles, how do you know who made the change and when was that made?

Scenario 3: A critical patch needs a new database schema change to be rolled out in both development and production servers. However, you can't run the same SQL script in both environments. The script references linked servers, databases and user accounts which are different in two environments. You maintain two sets of scripts and need to keep them in sync. If you are using multiple scripts for the database, the process becomes even more complex.

Scenario 4: You are not sure if the database in your production server has the same structure as the one in QA. You can always generate script files from both databases and compare them side-by-side, but the comparison mainly shows differences for white spaces and headers. How do you sift through all those false highlights? Even if you are using a diff tool that can show schema differences and generate a script to merge the differences, how do you know those changes won't break anything?

Scenario 5: The script file for the database schema is maintained in a version control system. At any time you can compare the changes made to the file over time. But how can you be sure each of those changes were actually applied to the database? Was version 1.x applied to the database or was it skipped and version 2.x was applied instead?

As you can see, the problems may seem difficult to solve at first. Fortunately there are some tools that can help you answer these questions. In this tip series, we will talk about one such tool, called Liquibase.

Introducing Liquibase

Liquibase (www.liquibase.org) is an open source database change management and deployment tool written by Nathan Voxland. It is written in Java and was first released in 2006. Liquibase offers an elegant solution to the database change management problem. It works with a number of database platforms including Microsoft SQL Server.  The tool has a very small footprint and can be automated with a number of existing build tools. There is also a commercial version available which we will talk about later.

How Liquibase Works

Before using Liquibase, let's understand a few key concepts.

At the heart of Liquibase is what's called a database changelog file. A changelog is nothing but a plain text file which includes one or more changesets. A changelog can include other changelogs in a hierarchical fashion.

A changeset is the basic unit of change for a database. This change can be a schema change like adding or dropping tables or it can be changing the data itself. Liquibase is platform agnostic, which means it does not care what the underlying database engine is, the same change can be applied to multiple database platforms. That becomes possible because the changeset does not say how the change has to be made, rather what needs to be done. The actual change is made by the code generated by the Liquibase engine and passed on to the database driver. A changeset can incorporate one or more atomic changes (adding table, modifying column, adding indexes, adding rows, etc.), but when it runs, Liquibase considers all those changes as part of a single changeset.

The contents of a changeset include two types of information: the metadata about the change and the change instruction itself.

The metadata about the change includes a number of attributes that uniquely identifies it in the changelog file and defines how the change will be applied. We will see these attributes as we go along, but the two mandatory attributes we need to know now are the id and author of the changeset. A combination of these two attributes uniquely identifies the changeset within the changelog.

When Liquibase runs for the first time against a database, it creates two new tables in it. One of these tables is called DATABASECHANGELOG and the other is called DATABASECHANGELOGLOCK. With each run, Liquibase takes the name of a changelog file as one of its parameters. It looks into the changelog file and starts applying the changesets from the beginning. When it successfully applies a changeset's change, it adds a new row in the DATABASECHANGELOG table. This row information includes:

  • The changeset id
  • The changeset author name
  • The changelog file name
  • An MD5 checksum of the changeset
  • Date and time the change was applied

The id, author name and the file name uniquely identifies a change within the DATABASECHANGELOG table. The next time Liquibase runs the same changelog file, it again looks at the changesets from beginning and checks what's stored in the DATABASECHANGELOG table. If the change has already been applied, it skips the changeset and moves on to the next one. There is exception to this rule, but this is the default behavior. Even if the changeset id and author name remains the same, but the contents of the changeset is modified, Liquibase throws an error. That's because Liquibase calculates the MD5 checksum of the changeset content and compares it with what's stored in the DATABASECHANGELOG table. When it sees a difference, it raises the error. This means any new change will have to be part of a new and separate changeset. So if your changeset creates a new table in the database, Liquibase will not attempt to recreate it the next time it runs. If you decide to add an index to the table, you can't add that change to the same changeset. It has to come after the original changeset and defined separately. With progressive changes like this made over time, each change can be tracked easily. And this is how Liquibase keeps a database's version manageable: it incrementally updates the database with each new changeset from the changelog. The changelog file thus becomes a living document of every change made to the database and it's backed by the DATABASECHANGELOG table. The following image shows the concept:

Database Version Change with Liquibase

Installing Liquibase

We will now see how to install Liquibase. It's a cross platform tool, so you can run it from Windows, Mac OS X or Linux. It can be installed either in a developer workstation or a build server. In our tests, we installed it in a laptop running Windows 10 Home Edition. We wrote our database changelogs locally and applied them to a remote SQL Server 2014 instance.

As a prerequisite, the first thing you need to ensure is that you have Java installed and configured in your workstation. In the following image, we are running Oracle Java Version 8:

Java Version Installed

To be on the safe side, it's best to use Java 8 and use Oracle JDK. Also, if you don't have Java installed on your computer, you can download it from the Oracle site.

Liquibase connects to databases using JDBC drivers. So the next thing is to download and install the JDBC Driver for Microsoft SQL Server. This can be downloaded from the Microsoft site. The download is available in both .exe format for Windows and .tar.gz format for Mac OS X or Linux. By default, the .exe file extracts the driver in the following directory:

"%System Root%:\Program Files\Microsoft JDBC Driver 4.0 for SQL Server

For Mac OS X or Linux, download the compressed tar archive in a directory and uncompress it.

With both Java and the JDBC driver installed, it's now time to install Liquibase. Installing Liquibase is very simple. All you need to do is download the correct distribution for your computer's operating system and uncompress the archive. At the time of this writing, the latest version is 3.4.2 and it can be downloaded from here. For our Windows computer, we downloaded the liquibase-3.4.2-bin.zip file and unzipped it under C:\Liquibase:

Liquibase Install Directory

Finally, we added the path to this directory in the Windows PATH variable:

Liquibase in PATH variable

With all that done, we are now ready to write our own changelog files and run them with Liquibase.

Our First Changelog File

Changelog files can be written in four different formats:

  • XML
  • YAML
  • JSON
  • Formatted SQL

The following code snippet shows our simple database changelog file written in XML. It creates a new table in the database and adds three fields in that table. Note how the change log uses a predefined XSD schema and how we are defining attributes for the changeset (id, author etc.). The actual change is contained within the <changeset></changeset> tags. Another thing you may notice is that we are not saying which database this changeset is meant for. This is actually specified at runtime.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<databaseChangeLog xmlns="http://www.liquibase.org/xml/ns/dbchangelog" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.liquibase.org/xml/ns/dbchangelog http://www.liquibase.org/xml/ns/dbchangelog/dbchangelog-3.1.xsd">
<changeSet id="1" author="sadequl_hussain"> <createTable tableName="customer"> <column name="id" type="int"> <constraints primaryKey="true" nullable="false"/> </column> <column name="customer_name" type="varchar(50)"> <constraints nullable="false"/> </column> <column name="active" type="boolean" defaultValueBoolean="true"/> </createTable> </changeSet> </databaseChangeLog>

If you are a SQL Server Developer or DBA, you would be comfortable with traditional T-SQL script files. The same changelog can be written in Liquibase formatted SQL:

--liquibase formatted sql
--changeset sadequl_hussain:1 CREATE TABLE [dbo].[customer] ( [id] INT NOT NULL PRIMARY KEY, [customer_name] VARCHAR(50) NOT NULL, [active] BOOLEAN DEFAULT TRUE );

The first line in the SQL file has to be a comment that states it's a Liquibase formatted SQL file. Similarly, each changeset is preceded with a comment line that starts with the keyword "changeset". This is followed by a series of key value attribute pairs separated by a colon. In this example, we have specified the author name and id attributes separated by a colon (:).

Needless to say, the same changelog can also be written in YAML or JSON. Non-SQL developers would usually prefer those formats.

As you can imagine, if the database schema changes quite frequently, a single changelog can quickly become very large and unwieldy. In later part of this blog series, we will see how that can be managed.

Running Liquibase

Now that we have written our changelog, we can apply it to our database with the liquibase command. Liquibase is a command line tool, so we need to run it from the command prompt (Windows) or the terminal window (Linux / Mac OS X). Let's assume we have named the xml file as dbchangelog.xml and the Liquibase formatted SQL file as dbchangelog.sql. The Liquibase command syntax is shown below:

liquibase <options> <command><command parameters>

There are a number of options and a number of commands available for Liquibase. At a minimum, the following options need to be specified when running Liquibase:

  • changeLogFile: This specifies the path and file name of the changelog
  • username: The username Liquibase will connect to the database with
  • password: password for the account Liquibase will connect to the database with
  • url: JDBC URL for the database instance and the database
  • driver: The JDBC driver class name

For our purpose, we will run the update command which will apply the changeset against a target database. We have already created a SQL Server 2014 database called "liquibase_test" in our test instance. Also, we created a SQL Server login called "liquibase" and mapped that as a db_owner in the database. This is the account Liquibase will use to connect to the database.

The command is shown below:

 --classpath="C:\\Program Files\\Microsoft JDBC Driver 4.0 for SQL Server\\sqljdbc_4.0\\enu\\sqljdbc4.jar" 
 --url="jdbc:sqlserver://<SQL Server name or IP>:1433;databaseName=liquibase_test;integratedSecurity=false;" 

We have broken down the command in separate lines for clarity's sake. For your use case, you need to replace the parameter values as necessary. Also, Liquibase commands and their parameters are case sensitive. The first part of the command or option starts in lower case and the latter parts are in uppercase.

A successful run will print the following messages on screen:

INFO 19/04/16 9:07 PM: liquibase: Successfully acquired change log lock                                                                                                                                            
INFO 19/04/16 9:07 PM: liquibase: Creating database history table with name: [dbo].[DATABASECHANGELOG]
INFO 19/04/16 9:07 PM: liquibase: Reading from [dbo].[DATABASECHANGELOG]
INFO 19/04/16 9:07 PM: liquibase: D:/Liquibase/databaseChangeLog/dbchangelog.xml: D:/Liquibase/databaseChangeLog/dbchangelog.xml::1::sadequl_hussain: Table customer created                                       
INFO 19/04/16 9:07 PM: liquibase: D:/Liquibase/databaseChangeLog/dbchangelog.xml: D:/Liquibase/databaseChangeLog/dbchangelog.xml::1::sadequl_hussain: ChangeSet D:/Liquibase/databaseChangeLog/dbchangelog.xml::1::sadequl_hussain ran successfully in 1605ms                                                                                                                                                                         
INFO 19/04/16 9:08 PM: liquibase: Successfully released change log lock
Liquibase Update Successful

Once complete, we can check the database. There will be two tables other than the "customers" table: the DATABASECHANGELOG and DATABASECHANGELOGLOCK table. These two tables are automatically generated by Liquibase the first time it runs and is updated in every subsequent run.

Liquibase Generated Tables

Selecting from DATABASECHANGELOG table shows us the single record that has just been added:


As you can see, the combination of ID, AUTHOR and FILENAME fields would uniquely identify each changeset. It also shows the MD5 checksum of the changeset.

Liquibase Properties file

We don't have to type all the options every time we run Liquibase. It's cumbersome and error prone. Instead, we can create a text file called liquibase.properties in the directory where we are running Liquibase from and define all the options there. At run time, Liquibase uses the options from this file. The code below shows the contents of the liquibase.properties file we created:

driver: com.microsoft.sqlserver.jdbc.SQLServerDriver
classpath: ..\\Program Files\\Microsoft JDBC Driver 4.0 for SQL Server\\sqljdbc_4.0\\enu\\sqljdbc4.jar
changeLogFile: D:\\Liquibase\\databaseChangeLog\\dbchangelog.xml
url: jdbc:sqlserver://<SQL Server name or IP>:1433;databaseName=liquibase_test;integratedSecurity=false;
username: liquibase
password: liquibase

Note how the class path has been defined with relative to the current directory. This is because we are running Liquibase from C:\Liquibase directory. With the file created, we can run Liquibase with only one extra option: defaultsFile. This parameter defines the path to the liquibase.properties file:

c:\Liquibase>liquibase --defaultsFile="C:\Liquibase\liquibase.properties" update
Liquibase Update Successful

How Liquibase Manages Database Integrity

This time Liquibase skips over the changeset and does not try to recreate the table. That's because at run time it compares the changeset's id, author and the changelog file name with what's stored in the DATABASECHANGELOG table. If there is an entry in the table, it checks the MD5 checksum stored in the table against the MD5 checksum computed from the file. If they are the same, Liquibase knows the changeset has already been applied, so it does not run it again. If the MD5 checksums are different, Liquibase throws an error and exits because it has no way of knowing what changes have been applied to the object. If there is no entry in the table for that changeset, Liquibase applies the changeset.

To illustrate the point, we have modified the existing changeset in our changelog file for the customer table. We have decided to include a new column here.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<databaseChangeLog xmlns="http://www.liquibase.org/xml/ns/dbchangelog" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.liquibase.org/xml/ns/dbchangelog http://www.liquibase.org/xml/ns/dbchangelog/dbchangelog-3.1.xsd">
<changeSet id="1" author="sadequl_hussain"> <createTable tableName="customer"> <column name="id" type="int"> <constraints primaryKey="true" nullable="false"/> </column> <column name="customer_name" type="varchar(50)"> <constraints nullable="false"/> </column> <column name="active" type="boolean" defaultValueBoolean="true"/> </createTable> <addColumn tableName="customer"> <column name="join_date" type="datetime"/> </addColumn> </changeSet> </databaseChangeLog>

Trying to apply the changelog file will generate an error:

Unexpected error running Liquibase: Validation Failed:
1 change sets check sum
D:/Liquibase/databaseChangeLog/dbchangelog.xml::1::sadequl_hussain is now: 7:b2b86fa580e6b8fabc016d36a6ca4bd6

This is happening because we decided to change an existing changeset that has already been applied. The MD5 checksum of the changeset has changed and Liquibase can't match it with what's stored in the database. If we refactored the new column into its own changeset, there would be no problem:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<databaseChangeLog xmlns="http://www.liquibase.org/xml/ns/dbchangelog" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.liquibase.org/xml/ns/dbchangelog http://www.liquibase.org/xml/ns/dbchangelog/dbchangelog-3.1.xsd">
<changeSet id="1" author="sadequl_hussain"> <createTable tableName="customer"> <column name="id" type="int"> <constraints primaryKey="true" nullable="false"/> </column> <column name="customer_name" type="varchar(50)"> <constraints nullable="false"/> </column> <column name="active" type="boolean" defaultValueBoolean="true"/> </createTable> </changeSet> <changeSet id="2" author="sadequl_hussain"> <addColumn tableName="customer"> <column name="join_date" type="datetime"/> </addColumn> </changeSet> </databaseChangeLog>

And that's how Liquibase helps in maintaining a consistent database change chain. Every change has to be part of a different changeset: you cannot modify a changeset that has already been run (although there is an exception to this rule).

Generating Changelogs

Suppose you have a database and you want to reverse engineer it. This is the opposite of what we have been doing so far. The database may be Liquibase controlled or it may be the first time you are running Liquibase on it. The command generateChangeLog can help you create an XML changelog file from the database.

In the following example, we have restored the AdventureWorks 2012 database in our SQL Server instance. And once again, we had to grant the liquibase user account access to the database.

AdventureWorks 2012 Database

We then ran the generateChangeLog command to create an XML changelog file for the dbo user (the line breaks and tabs are used for clarity).

 --classpath="C:\\Program Files\\Microsoft JDBC Driver 4.0 for SQL Server\\sqljdbc_4.0\\enu\\sqljdbc4.jar" 
 --url="jdbc:sqlserver://<SQL Server name or IP>:1433;databaseName=AdventureWorks2012;integratedSecurity=false;" 
INFO 23/04/16 1:04 PM: liquibase: D:\Liquibase\databaseChangeLog\AdventureWorks2012ChangeLog.xml does not exist, creating Liquibase 'generateChangeLog' Successful

The changelog file name is the one Liquibase will generate. Note how we have introduced another new option, logLevel. When specified, this option will output command results in one of the five different levels: off, debug, info, warning and severe. If specified with a log level of warning for example, only messages classed as warning or severe will be displayed. We are using a log level of info. Unless the option logFile is specified, logLevel will send the command output to the screen. Also, remember that we could specify all properties in a liquibase.properties file.

The generated changelog can be viewed here. You will notice it has only three table definitions, all from the dbo schema. That's because by default Liquibase will try to generate the code for default dbo schema.  No functions, triggers or stored procedures were exported, although the AdventureWorks database has a number of stored procedures under the dbo schema. Unfortunately this is a limitation of open source Liquibase; the commercial version does not have this limitation.

Now, AdventureWorks has a number of schemas. Your own database may have more than one schema too. How do you export objects from those schemas? The answer is, you can use another switch in your command, defaultSchemaName and specify the schema you wish to export. In the code sample below, we are using almost the same command as before, except it has an added option and a different output file:

 --classpath="C:\\Program Files\\Microsoft JDBC Driver 4.0 for SQL Server\\sqljdbc_4.0\\enu\\sqljdbc4.jar"
 --url="jdbc:sqlserver://<SQL Server name or IP>:1433;databaseName=AdventureWorks2012;integratedSecurity=false;" 

The newly generated file can be seen here. In this case Liquibase generated objects from the Sales schema only. There are no functions or stored procedures with this schema, but there are some triggers associated with some of the tables. None of those triggers are exported. View definitions however, were scripted.

If you have a large number of schemas in your SQL Server database, you have to repeat this step to generate changelogs for each of those schemas. Obviously this can be time consuming, but with a little bit of scripting and automation, the command can be called for all schemas.

Once the schema objects are generated, you would want to export data from those tables. For that, another option is used: diffTypes, and it has to have a value of "data". The command is shown below:

 --classpath="C:\\Program Files\\Microsoft JDBC Driver 4.0 for SQL Server\\sqljdbc_4.0\\enu\\sqljdbc4.jar" 
 --url="jdbc:sqlserver://<SQL Server name or IP>:1433;databaseName=AdventureWorks2012;integratedSecurity=false;" 

The output will be another XML file with a large number of INSERT tags. This will be your changelog file for importing data.


This has been a basic introduction to Liquibase and how it works. In the next part of this series, we will introduce some advanced features and see why this is such a powerful tool. Meanwhile, if you are really interested to get your hands dirty, you can start reverse engineering another sample SQL Server database. This one is available from the Microsoft Codeplex site. It's called chinook and can be found here. The database is fairly simple: it has a number of tables with various constraints and sample data. We would recommend you download the sample and restore it in your test server and use Liquibase to reverse engineer it. Once you are confident, you can start rolling out simple views as an experiment.

Next Steps
  • Download Liquibase and install in your local workstation
  • Refer to Liquibase documentation to learn about its features
  • Create basic changesets and apply them to a test database

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About the author
MSSQLTips author Sadequl Hussain Sadequl Hussain has been working with SQL Server since version 6.5 and his life as a DBA has seen him managing mission critical systems.

This author pledges the content of this article is based on professional experience and not AI generated.

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Comments For This Article

Thursday, September 7, 2017 - 1:33:21 PM - Sudhakar Back To Top (66011)

 Hi Sadequel,

Found your post quite handy in grasping liquibase concepts. I am using liquibase in company project for a client. I was using sql server authentication with a username and password created for DB . But now client is not willing to use users for DB to authenticate and wants to move with Active Directory account which will be used to authenticate.

My question is can we configure Active Directory account credentials for DB in liquibase to use it, if yes can you please give the property file configuration on how to do it? Would be helpful.


Friday, March 24, 2017 - 7:40:18 PM - Sadequl Hussain Back To Top (51619)

Hi Ananad,

To answer you, yes, Liquibase can be used on existing databases which contain data. To further illustrate the point, Liquibase is used for iterative changes to the database, which means it can be used on databases after they have gone live or already live.

If you want to start managing an existing database's change with Liquibase, you have to remember a few things:

a) You can first create a "baseline" of the existing database by reverse engineering the database. Here, no change will be applied to the database schema or data, a databasechangelog and databasechangeloglock table will be created in the database and you will be able to save the output as your base changelog. This will contain the data in the table which you are trying to modify. This effectively becomes your backup.

b) Any subsequent changes to the database will have to be maintained by Liquibase

c) There is no native "BACKUP DATABASE" command in Liquibase, although Liquibase can execute SQL scripts against databases. You can try to run a backup script against the database using Liquibase and see if it generates a backup file.

Now suppose you want to roll back your change of altering a table or column or creating a key. You have to write another changeset to roll back that change and execute that. If the change to the table resulted in data loss (e.g. trucating data, dropping column, changing column data type), your changeset will need code to recover that data.

Friday, March 24, 2017 - 12:42:19 PM - ANAND K MAHARANA Back To Top (51606)

 Thanks for the response Sadequl. What I was trying to understand is if Liquibase can be used for existing databases which have data in them? Like altering a table or column or creating a key or situations were we need to recreate the table and hence have to backup the data.


Friday, March 24, 2017 - 6:59:12 AM - Sadequl Hussain Back To Top (51584)

Hi Anand,

Liquibase does not take care of any database related erros resulting from altering the structure of a table that contains data (e.g. trying to create a primary key on a field that contains non-unique values), unless you have specified roll back or onError conditions etc. In these cases the JDBC driver will print out the error message returned from the underlying database system and exit with error.

You have to remember that Liquibase is only a client tool, just like you use a query editor to run commands on a database.

Let me know if this answers your query.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017 - 11:54:20 PM - ANAND K MAHARANA Back To Top (51553)

 What happens to the data in the table when you are altering the table? How liquibase takes care of the data?


Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - 7:07:24 AM - Sadequl Hussain Back To Top (46581)

Hi Rac,

From your post, I can see you are trying to see if a table exists in a database and the SQL command you wrote actually checks for a database's existence and drops it if it exists.

Both are obviously very different things. Let's start with the table scenario first.

You can define the table definition in a Liquibase changelog file's particular changeset only once for an author and change id. The first time it runs, the table will be created. The next time it runs, if the changeset for the author / changeset id has been already applied, Liquibase will skip creating the table.

Let's say you want to recreate the table with your subsequent change. In that case, your new changeset should have two blocks: one for deleting the table and another for creating the table.

Let's say you want to ensure no other user's changeset creates the table. You can always use the onError error trapping for a graceful error message and provide a roll back mechansim.

Finally, if you want to run a script from Liquibase to check for the existence of the table, your code in that script file should be:

IF EXISTS(select * from sys.objects where name='yourTableName' and type ='U')

As for the second scenario of dropping / creating database:

I don't think you can run certain DBA related commands from Liquibase (such as dropping databases) - it's greatest strength comes from what you do inside the database (such as creating /modifying /dropping  certain types of objects). However, I could be wrong. I know you certainly can call SQL script files from Liquibase - not sure if administrative commands in those scripts will cause problems.

Hope this helps.

Monday, February 20, 2017 - 6:03:42 AM - Rac Back To Top (46515)


How can I check if the table is exists in SQL File?

I did try somethink like this but it didn't work.

IF EXISTS(select * from sys.databases where name='yourDBname')

please help.


Million thank,



Tuesday, October 11, 2016 - 10:16:16 PM - Sadequl Hussain Back To Top (43543)

Hi Alex,

Thanks for reaching out. Without actually looking at your database structure it's hard to say why you are receiving the message. Since you mentioned using databases with same name but different structures has no issue, I believe this could be due to the way the database objects (mainly tables perhaps) are named.

Some suggestions:

- Instead of using sa and it's password (which is by default a sysadmin in every database), you can perhaps create a dediated db_admin account called liquibase in the database and use the --username and -- password parameters and omit the sa credentials in the JDBC URL

- If you do use sa credentials in the JDBC URL, try to use "integratedSecurity=false;" in the connection string

- Finally, you may want to check the names of your database objects. Are they using spaces in them? Do they belong to separate schemas like you see in AdventureWorlks etc.?

- Try to clear the dbChangelog and dbChangeLogLock tables and start over

If all fails, I would recommend you start with a fresh copy of the databse and then delete say, majority of tables. Then try to create the changelog and see if it succeeds. If so, add more tables and test again. Keep doing it until you hit the problematic table.

Hope this helps.


Tuesday, October 11, 2016 - 6:53:10 AM - Alex Back To Top (43534)

Hi. I read your article and found it very interesting.

Now, let me ask you some questions.

The first time I tried to generate a changelog for my SQL Server test database, I got this error message:

Unexpected error running Liquibase: liquibase.exception.DatabaseException: java.lang.NumberFormatException: For input string: ""

SEVERE 11/10/16 11.12: liquibase: liquibase.exception.DatabaseException: java.lang.NumberFormatException: For input string: ""


My command line:

C:\Alex\DBTools\liquibase>liquibase --driver=com.microsoft.sqlserver.jdbc.SQLServerDriver --classpath="C:\Program Files\Microsoft JDBC Driver 6.0 for SQL Server\\sqljdbc_6.0\\ita\\sqljdbc4.jar" --url="jdbc:sqlserver://MYSRV;instanceName=SQL2014;databaseName=DBEXAMPLE1;user=sa;password=*******;" --changeLogFile="c:\MyFolder\DBEXAMPLE1.xml" --username=sa --password=******* --logLevel=info generateChangeLog

I tried the same command line with 2 others SQL Server database (having different structure) changing only the database name and the output file name: everything worked well!

Have you any suggestions about the error message I got at my first try? Have you ever experienced anything similar?

Kind regards.


P.S. I'm sorry: I studied english language many years ago... but now I know only few words... :-(


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