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We created an entity class! But... that's it. The corresponding table does not yet exist in our database.

Let's think. In theory, Doctrine knows about our entity, all of its properties and their ORM\Column attributes. So... shouldn't Doctrine be able to make that table for us automatically? Yes! It can.

The make:migration Command

When we installed Doctrine earlier, it came with a migrations library that's amazing. Check it out! Whenever you make a change to your database structure - like adding a new entity class, or even adding a new property to an existing entity, you should spin over to your terminal and run:

symfony console make:migration

In this case, I'm running symfony console because this is going to talk to our database. Run that and... perfect! It created one new file in a migrations/ directory with a timestamp for today's date. Let's go check it out! Find migrations/ and open the new file.

36 lines | migrations/Version20220718170654.php
// ... lines 1 - 12
final class Version20220718170654 extends AbstractMigration
public function getDescription(): string
return '';
public function up(Schema $schema): void
// this up() migration is auto-generated, please modify it to your needs
$this->addSql('CREATE SEQUENCE vinyl_mix_id_seq INCREMENT BY 1 MINVALUE 1 START 1');
$this->addSql('CREATE TABLE vinyl_mix (id INT NOT NULL, title VARCHAR(255) NOT NULL, description TEXT DEFAULT NULL, track_count INT NOT NULL, genre VARCHAR(255) NOT NULL, created_at TIMESTAMP(0) WITHOUT TIME ZONE NOT NULL, PRIMARY KEY(id))');
$this->addSql('COMMENT ON COLUMN vinyl_mix.created_at IS \'(DC2Type:datetime_immutable)\'');
public function down(Schema $schema): void
// this down() migration is auto-generated, please modify it to your needs
$this->addSql('CREATE SCHEMA public');
$this->addSql('DROP SEQUENCE vinyl_mix_id_seq CASCADE');
$this->addSql('DROP TABLE vinyl_mix');

This holds a class with up() and down() methods... though I never run migrations in the "down" direction, so we'll focus only on up(). And... this is great! The migrations command saw our VinylMix entity, realized that its table was missing in the database, and generated the SQL needed in Postgres to create it, including all of the columns. That was so easy.

Executing the Migration

Ok... so how do we execute this migration? Back at your terminal, run:

symfony console doctrine:migrations:migrate

Say y to confirm and... beautiful! It tells us that it's Migrating up to that specific version. It seems... like that worked! To make sure, you can try another bin/console command: symfony console doctrine:query:sql with SELECT * FROM vinyl_mix.

symfony console doctrine:query:sql 'SELECT * FROM vinyl_mix'

When we try that... whoops! Pardon my typo... nothing to see here. Try that again and... perfect! We didn't get an error! It just says that The query yielded an empty result set. If that table did not exist, like vinyl_foo, Doctrine would have screamed at us.

So, the migration did run!

How Migrations Work

This beautiful system deserves some explanation. Run

symfony console doctrine:migrations:migrate

again. Check it out! It's smart enough to avoid executing that migration a second time! It knows that it already did that. But... how? Try running a different command:

symfony console doctrine:migrations:status

This gives some general info about the migration system. The most important part is in Storage where it says Table Name and doctrine_migration_versions.

Here's the deal: the first time we executed the migration, Doctrine created this special table, which literally stores a list of all of the migration classes that have been executed. Then, each time we run doctrine:migrations:migrate, it looks in our migrations/ directory, finds all the classes, checks the database to see which have not already been executed, and only calls those. Once the new migrations finish, it adds them as rows to the doctrine_migration_versions table.

You can visualize this table by running:

symfony console doctrine:migrations:list

It sees our one migration and knows it already ran it. It even has the date!

This is cool... but let's push it further. Next, let's add a new property to our entity and generate a second migration to add the column.