Flyway Desktop PoC–Adding a Shadow and Baseline Script

In the last post, I created a baseline marker for Flyway in each database. This set the version in the dev and QA databases to v1. However, I also need a baseline script, at least the tool asks for one, so this is the process if you have objects in your production or other downstream databases.

I’ll do this for SQL Server and then PostgreSQL.

Why do this?

The main reason to create a baseline script is to note which objects already exist in production. For these objects, I don’t want to track these are changes in their current form.

For example, if I already have a CountryCodes table in production, when I create a project, I want to tell Flyway Desktop that this table exists in production, so if the dev version matches, don’t add this to scripts. If it doesn’t, then I’ve done something in development and need an ALTER script deployed to prod.

What was the Other Baseline?

The first baseline in this post, is a version marker. I hate that this is the case, but both Flyway (pre-Redgate) and Flyway Desktop (evolved from SQL Change Automation), had the concept of a baseline, but these were somewhat different things.

Flyway Baseline – The initial version of the database. Don’t deploy any scripts that are <= to this version.

Flyway Desktop Baseline – A script that has the structure and code of all objects that exist in the target database(s).

We can create a baseline script for Flyway, which looks for a B script, but the baseline command expects that you create this script manually. This is used to populate a new database with the baseline migration script prior to running all other scripts.

Setting up the Baseline Script

Flyway Desktop makes it easy to create a baseline script, and in fact, prompts you to do so.

In my project, if I go to the Schema Model (first) tab, I see there is an object in Development. This was the table I created when I set up the database. The goal is to get this table to other environments.

2023-04-04 16_10_58-Flyway Desktop

This table doesn’t exist in QA. I do have the flyway_schema_history table, which was the result of the baseline command.

2023-04-04 16_15_58-SQLQuery4.sql - ARISTOTLE_SQL2022.FWPoc_1_Dev (ARISTOTLE_Steve (77))_ - Microsof

If I go to the Generate Migrations (second) tab, I see this. The first thing that the tool wants is a Shadow database.

2023-04-04 16_12_55-Flyway Desktop

The shadow is essentially a development V-1 (v minus one) version. This is where I test all migrations, compare the state with development, and then determine what’s changed. This is just a regular database, but I create this outside of Flyway Desktop. For me, I created a database (FWPoc_1_Dev_Shadow) and then clicked Set up shadow database to get this dialog. You can name this anything.

I enter details, and test the connection before saving this. In general, this ought to be saved to my user settings as I’ll have my own shadow different from other developers. I DO NEED to click the “ok to erase data” box.

2023-04-04 16_14_09-Flyway Desktop

Once this is done, I now see another prompt on the Generate Migrations tab. Now I need a baseline script. I don’t have anything, but I will click the button.

2023-04-04 16_14_28-Flyway Desktop

This gives me a dialog to pick a target database. This target is used to get the initial set of objects to populate in the baseline script. You can use production or a copy (recommended) as the target database.

2023-04-04 16_14_41-Flyway Desktop

My QA is the same as prod, so I add that with the proper connection string and then I see the target here for the Baseline. I am ignoring static (or lookup/reference data for now). I’ll click the Baseline button.

2023-04-04 16_15_25-Flyway Desktop

This runs and … nothing.

Which makes sense, as there is nothing in my target database. I actually get an error after this, which tells me that it doesn’t make sense to baseline an empty database.

2023-04-10 12_38_51-Flyway Desktop

I wish that were surfaced earlier. In any case, if I close this, I get the same image above, saying I don’t have a baseline. For now, I’ll ignore that.


Not much happened in this post. I added a shadow database, which I’ll use to generate scripts. I tried to baseline, but that errored, as it should. I really don’t need a baseline, so I’ll come back to this later in another format.

For now, I’ve advanced the SQL Server project. I’ll actually repeat these steps for the PostgreSQL one, but it’s really creating a new database for the shadow and setting a connections string. Everything else looks the same.

The next post will actually generate a script and deploy this to QA.

About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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