flask-migrate - Flask-Migrate Documentation

Flask-Migrate is an extension that handles SQLAlchemy database migrations for Flask applications using Alembic. The database operations are made available through the Flask command-line interface.

Flask-Migrate is an extension that configures Alembic in the proper way to work with your Flask and Flask-SQLAlchemy application. In terms of the actual database migrations, everything is handled by Alembic so you get exactly the same functionality.

Install Flask-Migrate with pip:

pip install Flask-Migrate

This is an example application that handles database migrations through Flask-Migrate:

from flask import Flask
from flask_sqlalchemy import SQLAlchemy
from flask_migrate import Migrate
app = Flask(__name__)
app.config['SQLALCHEMY_DATABASE_URI'] = 'sqlite:///app.db'
db = SQLAlchemy(app)
migrate = Migrate(app, db)
class User(db.Model):
    id = db.Column(db.Integer, primary_key=True)
    name = db.Column(db.String(128))

With the above application you can create a migration repository with the following command:

$ flask db init

This will add a migrations folder to your application. The contents of this folder need to be added to version control along with your other source files.

You can then generate an initial migration:

$ flask db migrate -m "Initial migration."

The migration script needs to be reviewed and edited, as Alembic is not always able to detect every change you make to your models. In particular, Alembic is currently unable to detect table name changes, column name changes, or anonymously named constraints. A detailed summary of limitations can be found in the Alembic autogenerate documentation. Once finalized, the migration script also needs to be added to version control.

Then you can apply the changes described by the migration script to your database:

$ flask db upgrade

Each time the database models change, repeat the migrate and upgrade commands.

To sync the database in another system just refresh the migrations folder from source control and run the upgrade command.

To see all the commands that are available run this command:

$ flask db --help

Note that the application script must be set in the FLASK_APP environment variable for all the above commands to work, as required by the flask command.

If the db command group name is inconvenient, it can be changed to a different with the command argument passed to the Migrate class:

migrate = Migrate(app, db, command='migrate')

Starting with version 4.0, Flask-Migrate automatically enables the following options that are disabled by default in Alembic:

  • compare_type=True: This option configures the automatic migration generation subsystem to detect column type changes.
  • render_as_batch=True: This option generates migration scripts using batch mode, an operational mode that works around limitations of many ALTER commands in the SQLite database by implementing a "move and copy" workflow. Enabling this mode should make no difference when working with other databases.

To manually configure these or other Alembic options, pass them as keyword arguments to the Migrate constructor. Example:

migrate = Migrate(app, db, render_as_batch=False)

Sometimes applications need to dynamically insert their own settings into the Alembic configuration. A function decorated with the configure callback will be invoked after the configuration is read, and before it is applied. The function can modify the configuration object, or replace it with a different one.

def configure_alembic(config):
    # modify config object
    return config

Multiple configuration callbacks can be defined simply by decorating multiple functions. The order in which multiple callbacks are invoked is undetermined.

Flask-Migrate can integrate with the binds feature of Flask-SQLAlchemy, making it possible to track migrations to multiple databases associated with an application.

To create a multiple database migration repository, add the --multidb argument to the init command:

$ flask db init --multidb

With this command, the migration repository will be set up to track migrations on your main database, and on any additional databases defined in the SQLALCHEMY_BINDS configuration option.

Flask-Migrate exposes one class called Migrate. This class contains all the functionality of the extension.

The following example initializes the extension with the standard Flask command-line interface:

from flask_migrate import Migrate
migrate = Migrate(app, db)

The two arguments to Migrate are the application instance and the Flask-SQLAlchemy database instance. The Migrate constructor also takes additional keyword arguments, which are passed to Alembic's EnvironmentContext.configure() method. As is standard for all Flask extensions, Flask-Migrate can be initialized using the init_app method as well:

from flask_sqlalchemy import SQLAlchemy
from flask_migrate import Migrate
db = SQLAlchemy()
migrate = Migrate()
def create_app():
     """Application-factory pattern"""
     migrate.init_app(app, db)
     return app

After the extension is initialized, a db group will be added to the command-line options with several sub-commands. Below is a list of the available sub-commands:

Shows a list of available commands.
Shows a list of available database repository templates.
Initializes migration support for the application. The optional --multidb enables migrations for multiple databases configured as Flask-SQLAlchemy binds. The --template option allows you to explicitly select a database repository template, either from the stock templates provided by this package, or a custom one, given as a path to the template directory. The --package option tells Alembic to add __init__.py files in the migrations and versions directories.
Creates an empty revision script. The script needs to be edited manually with the upgrade and downgrade changes. See Alembic's documentation for instructions on how to write migration scripts. An optional migration message can be included.
Equivalent to revision --autogenerate. The migration script is populated with changes detected automatically. The generated script should to be reviewed and edited as not all types of changes can be detected automatically. This command does not make any changes to the database, just creates the revision script.
Checks that a migrate command would not generate any changes. If pending changes are detected, the command exits with a non-zero status code.
Edit a revision script using $EDITOR.
Upgrades the database. If revision isn't given then "head" is assumed.
Downgrades the database. If revision isn't given then -1 is assumed.
Sets the revision in the database to the one given as an argument, without performing any migrations.
Shows the current revision of the database.
Shows the list of migrations. If a range isn't given then the entire history is shown.
Show the revision denoted by the given symbol.
Show current available heads in the revision script directory.
Show current branch points.


  • All commands take one or more --x-arg ARG=VALUE or -x ARG=VALUE options with custom arguments that can be used in env.py.
  • All commands take a --directory DIRECTORY option that points to the directory containing the migration scripts. If this argument is omitted the directory used is migrations.
  • The default directory can also be specified as a directory argument to the Migrate constructor.
  • The --sql option present in several commands performs an 'offline' mode migration. Instead of executing the database commands the SQL statements that need to be executed are printed to the console.
  • Detailed documentation on these commands can be found in the Alembic's command reference page.

The commands exposed by Flask-Migrate's command-line interface can also be accessed programmatically by importing the functions from module flask_migrate. The available functions are:

Initializes migration support for the application.
Edit revision script(s) using $EDITOR.
Merge two revisions together. Creates a new migration file.
Show the revision denoted by the given symbol.
Shows the list of migrations. If a range isn't given then the entire history is shown.
Show current available heads in the script directory.
Shows the current revision of the database.
Sets the revision in the database to the one given as an argument, without performing any migrations.


  • These commands will invoke the same functionality that runs from the command-line, including output to the terminal. The logging configuration of the process will be overriden by Alembic according to the contents of the alembic.ini file.
  • For greater scripting flexibility you can also use the API exposed by Alembic directly.

Miguel Grinberg

2024, Miguel Grinberg

May 4, 2024