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In Aimeos, setup task are responsible for creating the database schema, updating the schema if necessary and migrating data required due to schema changes. They have to perform their tasks for all supported databases.

The setup tasks have a lot of advantages and exceed the possibilities of other available solutions like "Object-relational mapping" (ORM) or similar alternatives to setup tasks:

  • The database structure is stored in the version control system
  • For every commit there can be a suitable database structure created
  • Everyone can update their existing database to a newer version
  • Updates are possible from any commit, not only from released versions
  • Data transformation is possible via PHP code if SQL is not enough
  • They can declare dependencies to other tasks

They are also used to write the default and unit test data to the database during the setup process.

Schema updates#

Updating an existing schema or adding a new table to an existing data domain (product, catalog, attribute, etc.) is very simple and described in this article. If you need to migrate data, want to add a new data domain or rename a table, you need to create your own setup task.

For already existing data domains, a schema file exists in the ./lib/mshoplib/setup/default/schema/ directory of the Aimeos core. It consists of the list of tables including their definitions as Doctring DBAL schema. The attribute.php file contains these lines for example:

return [
  'table' => [
    'mshop_attribute_type' => function ( \Doctrine\DBAL\Schema\Schema $schema ) {

        $table = $schema->createTable( 'mshop_attribute_type' );

        $table->addColumn( 'id', 'integer', ['autoincrement' => true] );
        $table->addColumn( 'siteid', 'integer', [] );
        $table->addColumn( 'domain', 'string', ['length' => 32] );
        $table->addColumn( 'code', 'string', ['length' => 32] );
        $table->addColumn( 'label', 'string', ['length' => 255] );
        $table->addColumn( 'status', 'smallint', [] );
        $table->addColumn( 'mtime', 'datetime', [] );
        $table->addColumn( 'ctime', 'datetime', [] );
        $table->addColumn( 'editor', 'string', ['length' => 255] );

        $table->setPrimaryKey( ['id'],'pk_msattty_id' );
        $table->addUniqueIndex( ['siteid', 'domain', 'code'],'unq_msattty_sid_dom_code' );
        $table->addIndex( ['siteid', 'status'],'idx_msattty_sid_status' );
        $table->addIndex( ['siteid', 'label'],'idx_msattty_sid_label' );
        $table->addIndex( ['siteid', 'code'],'idx_msattty_sid_code' );

        return $schema;

    // ...

An anonymous function creates the table and adds the columns as well as the indexes. An important detail is to return the updated schema. This object will then be passed to the anonymous function for the same table in your extension.


Please remember that identifiers (table/column/index names) must not be longer then 30 characters!

Add new tables#

In your own extension you have to create a PHP file with the same name as the file for the existing data domain, i.e. attribute.php in the ./lib/custom/setup/default/schema/ directory. This file can contain one or more anonymous functions for new tables of the same data domain. They are created exactly like in the Aimeos core, e.g.

return [
  'table' => [
    'mshop_attribute_mytable' => function ( \Doctrine\DBAL\Schema\Schema $schema ) {

        $table = $schema->createTable( 'mshop_attribute_mytable' );

        $table->addColumn( 'id', 'integer', ['autoincrement' => true] );
        $table->addColumn( 'siteid', 'integer', [] );
        $table->addColumn( 'myvalue', 'string', ['length' => 255, 'notnull' => false] );
        $table->addColumn( 'mtime', 'datetime', [] );
        $table->addColumn( 'ctime', 'datetime', [] );
        $table->addColumn( 'editor', 'string', ['length' => 255] );

        $table->setPrimaryKey( ['id'],'pk_msattmy_id' );
        $table->addUniqueIndex( ['siteid', 'myvalue'],'unq_msattmy_sid_myval' );

        return $schema;


The array key and the table name must be the same. Also, don't forget to return the schema object!

Tables for new domains#

In order to create tables for a new data domain (not existing ones like "attribute", "product", "service", etc.], you need to create a setup task, too. This setup task must extend from the existing MShopCreateTables and/or MAdminCreateTables setup task. E.g., for a new domain mydomain (defined in setup/default/schema/mydomain.php) create a file called TablesCreateMydomain.php with content similar to this one:

namespace Aimeos\MW\Setup\Task;

class TablesCreateMydomain extends TablesCreateMShop
    public function getPreDependencies()
        return ['MShopCreateTables', 'MAdminCreateTables'];

    public function getPostDependencies()
        return [];

    public function migrate()
        $this->msg( 'Creating mydomain tables', 0, '' )

        $files = [
            'db-mydomain' => 'default' . $ds . 'schema' . $ds . 'mydomain.php'
        $this->setupSchema( $files );

In the migrate() method, you have to call the setupSchema() method from the parent class with the file that contains your schema definition. The $files array contains the name of the database connection as key (db is used if db-mydomain isn't explicitely configured) and the relative path to the schema file.

Modify existing tables#

It's possible to modify schema definitions of core tables via extensions. This enables your extension to add additional columns or indexes to core tables or change column options like their length or type. Your changes will be applied to the tables while the setup tasks are running as long as your extension is installed.

You have to create a PHP file with the same name as the file for the existing data domain, i.e. attribute.php in the ./lib/custom/setup/default/schema/ directory - just like for adding a new table.

The important difference compared to adding new tables is that the schema object already contains a table definition. You can retrieve the definition by using the getTable() method of the schema object. Afterwards, you can use the methods of the table schema class (v2.11) to modify the table according to your needs, e.g.:

return [
  'table' => [
    'mshop_attribute_type' => function ( \Doctrine\DBAL\Schema\Schema $schema ) {

        $table = $schema->getTable( 'mshop_attribute_type' );

        $table->addColumn(  'value', 'string', ['length' => 255] );
        $table->changeColumn(  'value', ['length' => 64] );
        $table->dropColumn(  'value' );

        $table->addIndex( ['value'],'idx_msattty_val' );
        $table->dropIndex( 'unq_msattmy_sid_myval' );
        $table->renameIndex( 'unq_msattmy_sid_myval', 'unq_msattmy_sid_myval_new' );

        return $schema;


The array key and the table name must be the same. Also, don't forget to return the schema object!

Platform specific#

Sometimes you might need to use column or index options that are only available for specific database servers, e.g. a MySQL fulltext index. While you can create those indexes without problems in your own setup task, DBAL would try to change your column or index during every setup run.

The solution is to list the identifiers of those platform specific indexes in the exclude section of the same file, e.g. in the attribute.php file located in the ./lib/custom/setup/default/schema/ directory:

return [
  'exclude' => [

  'table' => [
    // ...

This will leave the index with the name idx_msindte_value untouched by DBAL if it is part of a table in the same data domain.

Setup process#

There can be several directories which contain setup tasks. The main directory inside the Aimeos core is ./lib/mshoplib/setup/, which is configured in the manifest.php file. Extensions can provide setup tasks in their own directories as well, as long as they are also configured in their own manifest.php file.

Each setup task can declare dependencies to other tasks, e.g. a list of tasks must be executed before this task can run and one task must be executed after this task is completed. There will be more information about pre- and post-dependencies later as they require some more attention. The important thing during the setup process is that all tasks from all configured setup directories are sorted according to their dependencies and are executed in that order.

Task types#

  1. Tasks that do not declare any dependencies to other tasks and are not listed as post-dependencies in other tasks. There are only a few such tasks, because usually each task has one or more dependencies.

  2. Tasks that depend on other tasks. Reasons for the dependencies can be (among others) that columns must have been changed before by other tasks or new columns created by other tasks must be inserted before. In an empty database most of these setup tasks will exit immediately, because the first check is always, if the necessary database table exists. Therefore, the task for creating the tables is always executed after the ones changing tables in an existing database. This reduces the time for the setup process drastically for new installations.

  3. The task for creating the tables and indexes is executed very late in the process. It reads the schema files in e.g. "./lib/mshoplib/setup/default/schema/" and executes the SQL statements if necessary.

  4. Tasks executed afterwards either need the new tables for migrating data from old ones or they will insert records into those tables. There are tasks that insert some default records, e.g. for the product types. Furthermore, some tasks are executed only for specific sites: The test sites ("unittest" and "unitperf") contain their own tasks that insert or generate the required test records. One of the last tasks is usually the one for rebuilding the index for fast search operations.

Each task tests if the part of the database schema that it is written for is already up-to-date and prints what tables it checks. If nothing has to be done, it will only print "OK". Otherwise, it performs the necessary changes and tells you what has been done.

Anatomy of setup tasks#

The following section describes, where setup tasks are stored and how they have to be written.


The setup tasks that are part of the Aimeos core are stored in the ./lib/mshoplib/setup/ directory. Tasks only relevant for a specific site (like for unit tests or performance tests) are located in subdirectories named after the site, i.e. ./lib/mshoplib/setup/default/, "./lib/mshoplib/setup/unittest/ or ./lib/mshoplib/setup/unitperf/*.

In the Aimeos extensions resp. your own extension, setup tasks should be in the ./lib/custom/setup/ directory or in one of the subdirectories for a specific site. You can configure the path, where the setup manager should look for tasks, that should be executed, within the manifest.php file of your extension.

return [
    // ...
    'setup' => [

The "setup" key can contain a list of paths relative to the base path of the extension. The setup manager will add each task stored within these directories to the list of tasks that will be executed.


The name of a setup task should be as specific as possible and must be unique across all extensions! The default naming scheme for tasks in the Aimeos core is:


Good examples are:

  • IndexAddPriceTaxrateIndex
  • ProductDropWarehouseEditorIndex
  • CustomerAddAddressFlagsColumn
  • ServiceMigrateTypeColumn

Each task should only perform one action, like adding or dropping an index, but not both at the same time. This enables a fine grained control over the dependencies between the tasks.


Never add actions of separate domains to a single task, even if they do the same! The domains can be in separate databases and much more important: This can lead to circular dependencies easily!


The basic structure of a setup task looks like this (please change the name of your setup task class according to the naming schema):

namespace Aimeos\MW\Setup\Task;

class TaskClassName extends \Aimeos\MW\Setup\Task\Base
     * Returns the list of task names which this task depends on.
     * @return string[] List of task names
    public function getPreDependencies()

     * Returns the list of task names which depends on this task.
     * @return string[] List of task names
    public function getPostDependencies()

     * Updates the schema and migrates the data
    public function migrate()

Managing dependencies#

Crucial to setup tasks are the pre- and post-dependencies declarations, because they allow a very sophisticated ordering of tasks. This concept is pretty unique accross available software solutions out there in the www, because most of them are based on timestamps. A timestamp- or number-based system is OK as long as you have full control over your application, but as soon as extensions are able to modify the database schema, too, those solutions will break sooner or later.

Setup tasks in Aimeos (which also allows extensions to change the database schema) execute in a specific order that is defined by declaring pre and post dependencies. Pre-dependencies are tasks that must be executed before the current setup task will run, while post-dependencies are tasks that will be invoked after the current setup task has finished executing.

This concept provides a more flexible way to determine a specific order than just using numbers, dates or the alphabet, which is relevant for at least two more reasons:

  1. Since existing tasks should not ever be changed in order to maintain full backward compatibility, it is necessary to allow new core setup tasks to declare, which tasks must run before and which ones have to be executed after the task itself.

  2. Extensions must be able to do the same, because it wouldn't make sense for the core tasks to contain all dependencies of all existing extension tasks. The reason for extension setup tasks to be placed between core setup tasks is that not only core setup tasks can create or update tables. If the setup task in your extension adds a column to a table, it should be placed before the task which inserts the unit test data.


The name of the dependency is the class name, so for Aimeos\MW\Setup\Task\TablesCreateMShop it would be TablesCreateMShop. For this reason don't change the name of an existing task because then the required dependency information is lost.


Only declare pre- and post-dependencies your task really depends on. Otherwise the setup process will stop sooner or later because it can't resolve circular dependencies.


To find out which tasks must be executed before new ones, have a look at the SQL statements that should be executed. All tables, columns and indexes that are affected or referred to by the statements should be taken into account when searching through the existing setup tasks. Most often you only have to look at the core tasks of the same domain to find all setup tasks that must be a pre-dependency to the new one.

Examples for pre-dependencies:

  • OrderAddBaseAddressAddrId depends on OrderRenameTables (the comment column is added to "mshop_order_base_address" but the original name of the table was "mshop_order_address")
  • MShopAddLocaleData depends on TablesCreateMShop (the languages and currencies can only be inserted, if the tables have been created)
  • AttributeModifyIndex has no dependencies (dropping the index if available depends on nothing else, especially not on the existence of the table itself)


Post-dependencies are a little bit different, because you have to know what the task will do. Most often, post dependencies are used for the TablesCreateMShop and CatalogRebuildIndex or similar named tasks. The first one creates all new tables and indexes. Tasks modifying existing tables won't do anything, if the tables are not yet available, so adding TablesCreateMShop as post-dependency will speed up the process for new installations.

Example for post-dependencies (taken from ./lib/mshoplib/setup/MShopAddLocaleData.php):

  • MShopAddLocaleLangCurData should run before MShopSetLocale

Helper methods#

As every setup task must extend the Aimeos\MW\Setup\Task\Base class, it inherits some methods that are required or useful to do the job. By using the base class, your task already implements the required interface Aimeos\MW\Setup\Task\Iface.

msg( '', )
Prints the message indented by the given level. This method formats the messages so the output looks nice. Must be followed by a call to $this->_status( '...' ).
status( '' )
Outputs the status for the test that was printed by $this->_msg( ... ) before. Usual status values are: "OK" (nothing to do], "done" (task has been performed) or the number of records inserted ("/").

Get schema/connection#

getSchema( '' )
Retrieves the schema object for one of the databases. The parameter is one of the domains prefixed by "db-", e.g. "db-product".
getConnection( '' )
Returns the connection object for one of the databases. The parameter is the same as for getSchema().

Execute SQL statements#

execute( '' )
Executes a single SQL statement

executeList( ): Executes a list of SQL statements in the order provided by the array. They are executed one by one and not inside of a transaction.

getValue( '', '' )
Fetches a single record from the database and returns the value of the given column. If you need to fetch more than one record or column, use the database connection object instead.

Read platform specific SQL#

getTableDefinitions( )
Extracts all table definitions from the given string (usually the content of a schema file). Each definition must be separated by two new lines ("\n").
getIndexDefinitions( )
Extracts all index definitions from the given string (usually the content of a schema file). Each definition must be separated by two new lines ("\n").
getTriggerDefinitions( )
Extracts all trigger definitions from the given string (usually the content of a schema file). Each definition must be separated by two new lines ("\n").

Database schema#

Schema tests#

tableExists( )
Checks if the given table name exists in the database
indexExists( , )
Checks if the given index (not foreign keys, primary or unique constraints) exists for the specified table in the database
constraintExists( , )
Checks if the given constraint (foreign key, primary, unique) exists for the specified table in the database
columnExists( , )
Checks if the given column exists for the specified table in the database
getColumnDetails( , )
Returns an object containing the details of the column implementing Aimeos\MW\Setup\DBSchema\Column\Iface
Returns the database name

Column details#

The getColumnDetails() method of the schema returns an object with these methods:

Returns the collation of the column (not portable across databases)
Returns the data type of the column
Returns the default of the column
Returns the maximum length of the column, mainly for VARCHAR and DECIMAL columns
Returns the name of the column
Returns the name of the table the column is part of
Checks if NULL values are allowed for this column

Example code#

Tests a column if NULL is allowed:

$schema = $this->getSchema( 'db-product' );

if( $schema->tableExists( 'my_table' ) true
    && $schema->columnExists( 'my_table', 'my_column' ) true
    && $schema->getColumnDetails( 'my_table', 'my_column' )->isNullable() true
) {
    $this->execute( $stmt );

Database access#

Connection methods#

create( '' )
Returns a database statement object using the given SQL statement and implementing MW_DB_Statement_Interface
escape( )
Escapes the given value before it can be safely inserted into the SQL statement
Starts a transaction for this connection
Commits the changes done within the transaction
Discards the changes done inside the transaction

Statement methods#

bind( , , [] )
Binds a value to a parameter in the statement. "Type" is optional and by default Aimeos\MW\DB\Statement\Base::PARAM_STR
Executes the SQL statement and returns an object implementing Aimeos\MW\DB\Result\Iface

Result methods#

Returns the number of rows affected by an INSERT, UPDATE or DELETE statement
Retrieves the next row from a database result set, returns false if no more rows are available
Cleans up pending database result sets. Must always be called after retrieving all rows or executing another statement.
Retrieves next database result set if the SQL statement contained multiple statements

Example code#

$conn = $this->getConnection( 'db-product' );

$stmt = $conn->create( 'SELECT * FROM my_table WHERE type = ?' );
$stmt->bind( 1, 'payment' );
$result = $stmt->execute();

while( $row = $result->fetch() ) {
    // process row



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