PHP - Running database migrations with 'artisan'


Artisan is the command-line interface included with Laravel. It provides a number of helpful commands that can assist you while you build your application.

Migrations are like version control for your database, allowing your team to easily modify and share the application’s database schema. Migrations are typically paired with Laravel’s schema builder to easily build your application’s database schema. If you have ever had to tell a teammate to manually add a column to their local database schema, you’ve faced the problem that database migrations solve.

Scalingo MySQL Addon

A Laravel application requires a database, often a SQL database like MySQL or PostgreSQL, this article will be using MySQL, but it should be identical with a PostgreSQL database.

First, a Scalingo MySQL addon has to be added to your application. This addon will inject the environment variable SCALINGO_MYSQL_URL and its alias DATABASE_URL.


To use this URL in your application, add at the top of your app/config/database.php file the following lines. They decompose the URL into the different fields and let you configure your app.

$url = parse_url(getenv("DATABASE_URL"));

$host = $url["host"];
$username = $url["user"];
$password = $url["pass"];
$database = substr($url["path"], 1);

Then find the mysql entry in the database.php file and modify it like:

    'mysql' => array(
        'driver'    => 'mysql',
        'host'      => $host,
        'database'  => $database,
        'username'  => $username,
        'password'  => $password,
        'charset'   => 'utf8',
        'collation' => 'utf8_unicode_ci',
        'prefix'    => '',

Now your application database is configured, let’s work on the migrations.

First Migration

Creating a migration with Laravel is done with the following command on your workstation.

./artisan make:migration create_plants

The file is created at the location database/migrations/date_yourmigration. Edit it to write the content of the migration.

public function up()
    Schema::create('plants', function($table) {
        $table->string('common_name', 100);
        $table->string('latin_name', 100);

public function down()

To run locally the migration to see if the syntax is right, run the following command:

./artisan migrate

If everything went well, add this file to your GIT repository and deploy the application on the platform. Once the app has been deployed, apply the migration to your production database.

scalingo -a appname run php artisan migrate

What about the down method of the migration

For every migration file, a down method should be written in the case we want to rollback database migrations.

scalingo -a appname run php artisan migrate:rollback

Another example: alter a database table.

The previous example created a ‘table creation’ migration, here is an example of table alteration.

public function up()
    Schema::table('plants', function($table) {
        $table->unique('latin_name', 'plants_unique_latin_name');

public function down()
    Schema::table('authors', function($table) {

As previously, running the migration on the hosted application once deployed:

scalingo -a appname run php artisan migrate

For more examples, refer to the official Laravel documentation

Apply migrations automatically after deployment

So far the action to apply migrations on the production database was manual. It is possible to automate it by using a postdeploy hook All you have to do is to create a Procfile file at the root of your project with the following content:

postdeploy: php artisan migrate

That’s it, if a deployment is a success, the command applying migrations will be automatically run.

schedule 11 Sep 2017