Schema System

CakePHP features a schema system that is capable of reflecting and generating schema information for tables in SQL datastores. The schema system can generate/reflect a schema for any SQL platform that CakePHP supports.

The main pieces of the schema system are Cake\Database\Schema\Collection and Cake\Database\Schema\TableSchema. These classes give you access to database-wide and individual Table object features respectively.

The primary use of the schema system is for Fixtures. However, it can also be used in your application if required.

Schema\TableSchema Objects

class Cake\Database\Schema\TableSchema

The schema subsystem provides a simple TableSchema object to hold data about a table in a database. This object is returned by the schema reflection features:

use Cake\Database\Schema\TableSchema;

// Create a table one column at a time.
$schema = new TableSchema('posts');
$schema->addColumn('id', [
  'type' => 'integer',
  'length' => 11,
  'null' => false,
  'default' => null,
])->addColumn('title', [
  'type' => 'string',
  'length' => 255,
  // Create a fixed length (char field)
  'fixed' => true
])->addConstraint('primary', [
  'type' => 'primary',
  'columns' => ['id']

// Schema\TableSchema classes could also be created with array data
$schema = new TableSchema('posts', $columns);

Schema\TableSchema objects allow you to build up information about a table’s schema. It helps to normalize and validate the data used to describe a table. For example, the following two forms are equivalent:

$schema->addColumn('title', 'string');
// and
$schema->addColumn('title', [
  'type' => 'string'

While equivalent, the 2nd form allows more detail and control. This emulates the existing features available in Schema files + the fixture schema in 2.x.

Accessing Column Data

Columns are either added as constructor arguments, or via addColumn(). Once fields are added information can be fetched using column() or columns():

// Get the array of data about a column
$c = $schema->column('title');

// Get the list of all columns.
$cols = $schema->columns();

Indexes and Constraints

Indexes are added using the addIndex(). Constraints are added using addConstraint(). Indexes and constraints cannot be added for columns that do not exist, as it would result in an invalid state. Indexes are different from constraints, and exceptions will be raised if you try to mix types between the methods. An example of both methods is:

$schema = new TableSchema('posts');
$schema->addColumn('id', 'integer')
  ->addColumn('author_id', 'integer')
  ->addColumn('title', 'string')
  ->addColumn('slug', 'string');

// Add a primary key.
$schema->addConstraint('primary', [
  'type' => 'primary',
  'columns' => ['id']
// Add a unique key
$schema->addConstraint('slug_idx', [
  'columns' => ['slug'],
  'type' => 'unique',
// Add index
$schema->addIndex('slug_title', [
  'columns' => ['slug', 'title'],
  'type' => 'index'
// Add a foreign key
$schema->addConstraint('author_id_idx', [
  'columns' => ['author_id'],
  'type' => 'foreign',
  'references' => ['authors', 'id'],
  'update' => 'cascade',
  'delete' => 'cascade'

If you add a primary key constraint to a single integer column it will automatically be converted into a auto-increment/serial column depending on the database platform:

$schema = new TableSchema('posts');
$schema->addColumn('id', 'integer')
->addConstraint('primary', [
    'type' => 'primary',
    'columns' => ['id']

In the above example the id column would generate the following SQL in MySQL:

CREATE TABLE `posts` (
    PRIMARY KEY (`id`)

If your primary key contains more than one column, none of them will automatically be converted to an auto-increment value. Instead you will need to tell the table object which column in the composite key you want to auto-increment:

$schema = new TableSchema('posts');
$schema->addColumn('id', [
    'type' => 'integer',
    'autoIncrement' => true,
->addColumn('account_id', 'integer')
->addConstraint('primary', [
    'type' => 'primary',
    'columns' => ['id', 'account_id']

The autoIncrement option only works with integer and biginteger columns.

Reading Indexes and Constraints

Indexes and constraints can be read out of a table object using accessor methods. Assuming that $schema is a populated TableSchema instance you could do the following:

// Get constraints. Will return the
// names of all constraints.
$constraints = $schema->constraints()

// Get data about a single constraint.
$constraint = $schema->constraint('author_id_idx')

// Get indexes. Will return the
// names of all indexes.
$indexes = $schema->indexes()

// Get data about a single index.
$index = $schema->index('author_id_idx')

Adding Table Options

Some drivers (primarily MySQL) support and require additional table metadata. In the case of MySQL the CHARSET, COLLATE and ENGINE properties are required for maintaining a table’s structure in MySQL. The following could be used to add table options:

  'engine' => 'InnoDB',
  'collate' => 'utf8_unicode_ci',

Platform dialects only handle the keys they are interested in and ignore the rest. Not all options are supported on all platforms.

Converting Tables into SQL

Using the createSql() or dropSql() you can get platform specific SQL for creating or dropping a specific table:

$db = ConnectionManager::get('default');
$schema = new TableSchema('posts', $fields, $indexes);

// Create a table
$queries = $schema->createSql($db);
foreach ($queries as $sql) {

// Drop a table
$sql = $schema->dropSql($db);

By using a connection’s driver the schema data can be converted into platform specific SQL. The return of createSql and dropSql is a list of SQL queries required to create a table and the required indexes. Some platforms may require multiple statements to create tables with comments and/or indexes. An array of queries is always returned.

Schema Collections

class Cake\Database\Schema\Collection

Collection provides access to the various tables available on a connection. You can use it to get the list of tables or reflect tables into TableSchema objects. Basic usage of the class looks like:

$db = ConnectionManager::get('default');

// Create a schema collection.
$collection = $db->getSchemaCollection();

// Get the table names
$tables = $collection->listTables();

// Get a single table (instance of Schema\TableSchema)
$tableSchema = $collection->describe('posts');