Advanced Liquibase Techniques

Liquibase LogoI recently did some work with liquibase. Here’s some techniques for advanced users to workaround limitations to calculate query cost.

Liquibase Introduction

Liquibase is an Open Source (Apache 2.0 License) Java utility and API for specifying and versioning schema changes (DDL) for several popular databases. It is commonly introduced to projects by programmers, rather than DBAs.

What liquibase can do:

  • allow “refactoring” of SQL schema changes to target multiple databases using XML by using a database-independent syntax, or raw SQL, depending on your preference
  • allow conditional execution and rollback of SQL based on database type or environment.

What liquibase can’t do:

  • has no built-in provisions for operational concerns, like conditionally executing SQL based on time/cost. There’s an assumption that schema changes are online, often true on Oracle and SQL Server, less so on MySQL, especially prior to 5.6 (unless you do micro-sharding)
  • does not do intelligent merges to the same object across changesets, like adding multiple columns to the same table in one statement.

How liquibase works:

  • the programmer specifies schema changes in Java, XML or JSON and runs the liquibase command
  • liquibase creates 2 tables in your database to store version, user and patch name information and to lock out other simultaneous liquibase runs.

How to Make Liquibase Consider Cost for MySQL

After some experimentation, there’s a couple liquibase features you can use to do more advanced things:

  1. create a savepoint using the tag and rollback options:
    • liquibase tag rel0; liquibase update …; liquibase rollback rel0
  2. prepend and append logic to each changeset to use information_schema on the SQL DDL statement. on failure, exit with 1 (See XML example below)


<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>


    <changeSet id="1" author="james">
       create table if not exists `profiling` ( `connection_id` int(11) not null default 0, `query_id` int(11) not null default '0', `state` varchar(40) default '', KEY (query_id));
       truncate table profiling;
       set profiling=1;

       alter table department add column test2 int default null;
       insert into profiling (connection_id, query_id, state) select connection_id(), query_id, state from information_schema.profiling where query_id=2;
        <sql>alter table department drop column test2</sql>

    <changeSet id="1-post" author="james">
      <preConditions onFail="HALT">
        <sqlCheck expectedResult="0">SELECT count(*) from profiling where state='copy to tmp table'</sqlCheck>


  1. the changeset DDL statement will still have run, even if the precondition HALTs – they’re separate changesets, after all
  2. the rollback in “1” will not be executed, even if “1-post” HALTs.

The workaround for those 2 issues is to combine the two techniques in a shell script:


liquibase tag rel0

liquibase update changeset.xml || {
    # fail the build pipeline to not propagate changeset to next stage
    # (ie. don't run in production)
    liquibase rollback rel0
    mysql -e 'alter table test.department drop column test2' 
    exit 1

The above looks a little kludgy, but provides a stepping stone for the reader to customize in their particular environment. (The preConditions and bash script can be easily autogenerated with a Perl or Python script.)

An alternative to XML is using the Java API to set everything up.

Please leave a comment if you have any suggestions or a Java API program.

This entry was posted in API Programming, MySQL, MySQL Cluster, Open Source, Oracle, Tech. Bookmark the permalink.

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