In Evolve, each sql script is called a migration. A migration is composed of a unique version, an informative description and a checksum.

At startup Evolve will collect all migrations located in Evolve.Locations, searching recursively for files with a specific file name structure. All files are then sorted by version in ascending order, regardless their initial directory. Each version of a migration must be unique. If not, the validation phase fails.

Once executed, the name and checksum of the migration are saved to a metadata table in your database. This table is checked every time Evolve is run, to see if the migration script has already been applied.


A migration is composed of a version, a description and a checksum.

The version must be unique. Migrations are applied in the order of their versions. The first numbers that make up the version of your migration may be the release version of your application followed by a counter.

To be processed by Evolve your migration scripts must follow this file name structure: V1_3_1_1__Create_table.sql:

  • prefix: configurable, default: V
  • version: numbers separated by _ (one underscore)
  • separator: configurable, default: __ (two underscores)
  • description: words separated by single underscores
  • suffix: configurable, default: .sql

The description is informative and allow you to remember what the migration was about.

The checksum is stored in the Evolve metadata table and used to detect accidental changes.


Evolve has 3 execution commands to interact with your database:

migrate: applies the migrations. It’s the main command.

erase: erases the database schema(s) if Evolve has created it or has found it empty (cf. Metadata table). Otherwise Evolve will not do anything. This command is intended to be use in development to start with a new clean database.

repair: updates checksums of previously applied migrations with those of the currently available migration scripts.


Each migration is executed in a separate database transaction. Thus each script will either succeed or fail completely and Evolve will stop on the first error. If your database supports DDL statements within a transaction, failed migrations will always be rolled back, otherwise you will have to manually fix your database state.


Placeholders are strings prefixed by: Evolve.Placeholder. that will be replaced in sql migrations before their execution. They make it possible to get dynamic migrations depending on the environment.

<add key="Evolve.Placeholder.schema1" value="my_schema" />
<add key="Evolve.Placeholder.database" value="my_db" />
SELECT * FROM ${database}.${schema1}.TABLE_1; -- SELECT * FROM my_db.my_schema.TABLE_1;

Metadata table

During its initial execution, Evolve creates a table with a default name of changelog, to keep track of all migrations (applied or failed) and to store their checksums. Example:

id type version description name checksum installed_by installed_on success
1 2 0 Empty schema found: dbo. dbo sa 22/02/2018 20:45:15 True
2 0 create table calendrier and constraints V1_0_0_0__create_table_calendrier_and_constraints.sql D4AAF08FBF70D3B327A9A3D3B4E0E21A sa 22/02/2018 20:45:15 True
3 0 create triggers V1_0_0_1__create_triggers.sql A4AA367C92B99C56E881324726882B9B sa 22/02/2018 20:45:16 True

The type column is used to identify which type of metadata is stored:

  • 0: migration
  • 1: new schema. Indicates that Evolve created the schema and thus can drop it if Evolve.Command = "erase".
  • 2: empty schema. Indicates that the schema was empty before Evolve applied the first migration and thus can erase it if Evolve.Command = "erase".
  • 3: start version. Used by Evolve to store the version from which to take migrations (cf. Evolve.StartVersion).

MSBuild task

Evolve NuGet installation adds a new post-build MSBuild task to your project. This task is automatically executed after a successful build and starts the Evolve command (cf. Evolve.Command in the options) defined in your configuration file, if one is found. If the command fails, the entire MSBuild process is stopped with an error.

Here is the .NET Framework version of the Evolve.targets file:

<Project ToolsVersion="15.0" xmlns="">
  <UsingTask TaskName="Evolve.MsBuild.EvolveBoot" AssemblyFile="$([MSBuild]::Unescape($(TargetDir)\Evolve.dll))" />
  <Target Name="SqlMigration" AfterTargets="Build">
    <Message Condition="!Exists('Web.config') AND !Exists('App.config')" Importance="High" Text="Evolve MSBuild mode is off: no configuration file found." />
    <EvolveBoot Condition="Exists('Web.config') OR Exists('App.config')" 
                Configuration="$(Configuration)" />

If the option Evolve.Command is null or empty, the MSBuild task does nothing.