Managing Database Migration in Go


Managing database schema is an essential tool that every data baked applications needed. Different frameworks offer different tools to make this flow easy, but in this article we will take a look at database migration tool in Go, check how it works and how to integrate it into Go project.

Getting Start

To start managing migration first we need to install goose. Run the following

$ go get github.com/pressly/goose/cmd/goose

This will install goose binary, which we can use. This CLI will take the following input


Generate Migration File

For example to create our first migration run it with create command

$ goose -dir=migrations postgres postgresql://testuser:secret123@localhost?sslmode=disable create create_users sql

This will generate an empty .sql file in migrations directory, which has content similar to the following.

-- +goose Up

-- +goose Down

Anything that gose under +goose Up will be executed to make changes to our database and anything that gose under +goose Down will be executed as reverse operation when we rollback our changes.

Here is how to create a users table with index

-- +goose Up
CREATE TABLE "users" (
  "name"       TEXT NOT NULL,
  "email"      TEXT NOT NULL,
  "password"   TEXT NOT NULL,

CREATE UNIQUE INDEX unique_users_email_idx ON users(email);

-- +goose Down
DROP INDEX unique_users_email_idx;

There are two ways you can write your migration in. One is using raw SQL syntax and the other is to write it in Go, which you can do so by supply go at the end of create command like this and it will generate a .go migration file

$ goose -dir=migrations postgres postgresql://testuser:secret123@localhost?sslmode=disable create create_users go

Migration Operation

To actually commit the change we made into the database we need to run up command

$ goose -dir=migrations postgres postgresql://testuser:secret123@localhost?sslmode=disable up

The first time you run up command goose will generate a table to hold information about our schema version so we can add or rollback our changes at anytime.

To rollback the most recent version run down command

$ goose -dir=migrations postgres postgresql://testuser:secret123@localhost?sslmode=disable down

To rollback to a specific version run down-to command. It takes a version timestamp as an argument. You can get it from migration filename.

$ goose -dir=migrations postgres postgresql://testuser:secret123@localhost?sslmode=disable down-to 20200711141802

Here are the complete commands list

    up                   Migrate the DB to the most recent version available
    up-by-one            Migrate the DB up by 1
    up-to VERSION        Migrate the DB to a specific VERSION
    down                 Roll back the version by 1
    down-to VERSION      Roll back to a specific VERSION
    redo                 Re-run the latest migration
    reset                Roll back all migrations
    status               Dump the migration status for the current DB
    version              Print the current version of the database
    create NAME [sql|go] Creates new migration file with the current timestamp
    fix                  Apply sequential ordering to migrations

Custom Goose Binary

Using the default binary can be lengthly and frustrated sometime because you have to specify driver name, connection string and migration path all the time. Fortunately there is a way to make life better and that is to write a custom goose binary. If you look at the Readme file on their github repository, there is an instruction on how to do so, but lets check it our in below code snippet

package main

import (

	_ "github.com/lib/pq"

var (
	flags    = flag.NewFlagSet("goose", flag.ExitOnError)
    dbstring = flags.String("dbstring", "postgresql://testuser:secret123@localhost?sslmode=disable", "connection string")
	dir      = flags.String("dir", "./migrations", "directory with migration files")

func main() {
	args := flags.Args()

	if len(args) < 1 {

	command := args[1]

	db, err := goose.OpenDBWithDriver("postgres", *dbstring)
	if err != nil {
		log.Fatalf("goose: failed to open DB: %v\n", err)

	defer func() {
		if err := db.Close(); err != nil {
			log.Fatalf("goose: failed to close DB: %v\n", err)

	arguments := []string{}
	if len(args) > 2 {
		arguments = append(arguments, args[2:]...)

	if err := goose.Run(command, db, *dir, arguments...); err != nil {
		log.Fatalf("goose %v: %v", command, err)

Run go build -o goose . to create our custom binary then you can run goose create, goose up and any other goose commands without any lengthly typing anymore.

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