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    Ongoing observations by End Point Dev people

    A Tool to Compare PostgreSQL Database Schema Versions

    Selvakumar Arumugam

    By Selvakumar Arumugam
    February 11, 2020

    Parcel sorting Photo by @kelvyn on Unsplash

    The End Point development team has completed a major application migration from one stack to another. Many years ago, the vendor maintaining the old stack abandoned support and development. This led to a stack evolution riddled with independent custom changes and new features in the following years.

    The new application was developed by a consortium that created migration scripts to transfer data to a fresh stack resulting in a completely restructured database schema. While we could not directly use those consortium migration scripts to our client application, attempting to create migration scripts from scratch would be tedious due to the many labor-intensive and time-consuming tasks. We looked to reuse and customize the scripts in order to ensure an exact match of the customized changes to the client’s application.

    Liquibase: A Schema Comparison Tool

    After an arduous hunt for a suitable solution, we came across Liquibase, an open-source schema comparison tool that utilizes the diff command to assess missing, changed, and unexpected objects.

    Installation and Usage

    Let’s see how to use Liquibase and review the insights and results offered by the diff command.

    Before beginning, download the latest version of Liquibase. As the default package doesn’t have its own driver, it would be wise to add the PostgreSQL driver to the Liquibase lib folder. (You’ll need to do this with any other database types and their necessary libraries and drivers.)

    $ wget https://github.com/liquibase/liquibase/releases/download/v3.8.5/liquibase-3.8.5.tar.gz
    $ tar xvzf liquibase-3.8.5.tar.gz
    $ wget https://repo1.maven.org/maven2/org/postgresql/postgresql/42.2.5/postgresql-42.2.5.jar -P lib/
    $ ./liquibase \
    --classpath="/path/to/home/apps/liquidiff/lib" \
    --outputFile=liquibase_output.txt \
    --driver=org.postgresql.Driver \
    --url=jdbc:postgresql://localhost:5432/schema_two \
    --username=postgres \
    --password=CHANGEME \
    --defaultSchemaName=public \
    Diff \
    --referenceUrl=jdbc:postgresql://localhost:5432/schema_one \
    --referenceUsername=postgres \
    --referencePassword=CHANGEME \

    Comparison Results

    The following output shows the list of all sections with missing, changed, and newly added objects to each section.

    $ cat liquibase_output.txt
    Reference Database: postgres @ jdbc:postgresql://localhost:5432/schema_one (Default Schema: public)
    Comparison Database: postgres @ jdbc:postgresql://localhost:5432/schema_two (Default Schema: public)
    Compared Schemas: public
    Product Name: EQUAL
    Product Version: EQUAL
    Missing Catalog(s): NONE
    Unexpected Catalog(s): NONE
    Changed Catalog(s): 
              name changed from 'schema_one' to 'schema_two'
    Missing Column(s): 
    Changed Column(s): 
              type changed from 'varchar(20 BYTE)' to 'varchar(255 BYTE)'     
              defaultValue changed from 'null' to 'now()'
              nullable changed from 'false' to 'true'
              order changed from '4' to '22'
    Missing Foreign Key(s): 
         one_two_id_fkey(one[two_id] -> two[id])
    Unexpected Foreign Key(s): 
    Changed Foreign Key(s): 
    Missing Index(s): 
    Unexpected Index(s): 
         table_pkey UNIQUE  ON public.table(id)
    Changed Index(s): 
         index_events_on_record_number ON public.table(record_number)
              unique changed from 'false' to 'true'
    Missing Primary Key(s): ...
    Unexpected Primary Key(s): ...
    Changed Primary Key(s): ...
    Missing Schema(s): NONE
    Unexpected Schema(s): NONE
    Changed Schema(s): NONE
    Missing Sequence(s): ...
    Unexpected Sequence(s): NONE
    Changed Sequence(s): NONE
    Missing Stored Procedure(s): NONE
    Unexpected Stored Procedure(s): NONE
    Changed Stored Procedure(s): NONE
    Missing Table(s): ...
    Unexpected Table(s): ...
    Changed Table(s): NONE
    Missing Unique Constraint(s): NONE
    Unexpected Unique Constraint(s): NONE
    Changed Unique Constraint(s): NONE
    Missing View(s): ...
    Unexpected View(s): NONE
    Changed View(s): NONE
    Liquibase command 'Diff' was executed successfully.


    Although comparing and contrasting the 100+ tables from the old application was beneficial, the data migration was still challenging due to volume and variety of data. However, with the help of Liquibase, we became more familiar with differences in the schema, including table level, columns, references, indexes, views, etc.

    This led to an increase in accuracy which was very helpful during the migration process. We hope that by sharing our findings, others will also benefit from this tool and all that it offers.

    postgres database