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PR based workflow
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Almost complete feature but still under development. There may be changes as we address issues and feedback. Use with caution.

PR based workflow

Edit on GitHub


Migrations with GitHub

This guide introduces the core Xata workflow and outlines the process of configuring a project for branching and migrations using GitHub in conjunction with Netlify or Vercel. After completing the configuration, pull requests created in GitHub will generate Xata database previews that link to preview deployments in either Vercel or Netlify. After merging the pull requests, Xata will perform database migrations in sync with your code, resulting in the deployment of changes to production.

This guide assumes:

To perform automatic migrations and previews, connect Xata to the downstream services. These steps can be performed at any time with an already existing, or a brand new database.

If you haven't already signed up to Xata using your GitHub account, you will need to do so before you continue.

After you create your account, go to the Account Settings page. You can access the page by clicking your avatar in the top right corner of the application. In the "Connected accounts" section, a list of any external services linked to your Xata account is displayed.

Click the GitHub button and authorize the website to work with Xata. This will grant access to your GitHub account so that Xata can read and write to your repositories when migrations occur, as well as synchronize your code with your database.

Account settings
Account settings

On any database view, click the Settings link near the top of the page and click into the GitHub integration. If you missed the last step about connecting your Github account, you'll need to follow the links provided to first connect your account.

The Xata GitHub application must be installed either at the user level (for personal repository access) or at the organization level (for access to your team's repositories). Adding the application to both will allow you to link your Xata database to repositories from either source.

Adding another organization
Adding another organization
GitHub authorization
GitHub authorization
Granting permissions
Granting permissions

After permissions are granted, a list of GitHub repositories that you can connect to your database is displayed. You can only connect one repository to a Xata database. Click Connect to link the Xata app with your repository and keep everything in sync.

Similar to the GitHub integration performed in the previous step, install the Xata app to your website hosting provider. Currently, Xata provides integrations for Netlify and Vercel.

On the Settings page click the host you prefer. The steps may vary slightly between different hosting services, but ultimately, Xata database previews will automatically connect to any deployment previews created by your hosting service during the pull request process.

Xata offers an official integration with Vercel. This integration automatically connects Xata's preview databases to Vercel's preview deployments. Enabling the integration allows Xata to dynamically modify environment variables (such as XATA_BRANCH) in your Vercel project as GitHub pull requests are created.

If you previously configured these variables manually in Vercel, you will need to remove them before enabling our integration.

  1. In any Xata database, click Settings in the top navigation menu.
  2. In the Workflow integrations section, click Vercel from the listed integration options, then click Install the Xata app on Vercel on the Setup Vercel integration page. This directs you to Vercel's website.
  3. After clicking Add Integration, you can select where to add the integration to. Your personal account and your team's organization account are listed.
  4. If prompted, you can select the individual projects to which the integration will be added or add the integration globally.
Vercel integration
Vercel integration

After permissions are granted, a list of Vercel projects that you can connect your database to is displayed.

The following configuration is linked to a personal account for Dave Snider as well as his Xata team account. Click Connect in the Vercel project you wish to have linked database previews for.

Multiple accounts in Vercel
Multiple accounts in Vercel

Xata provides an official Netlify integration you'll need to enable to provide previews. Click Settings in the top navigation for any Xata database, then click the Netlify integration from the listed options. This will transport you to Netlify's website, where you'll need to authorize the application and grant it permissions. Specifically this integration will allow Xata to automatically configure your environment variables on your Netlify site.

Vercel integration
Vercel integration

Beyond this step, you'll also need to install the @xataio/netlify plugin as a development dependency into your application.

npm install -D @xata.io/netlify

Finally, add the following to your netlify.toml file in the root of your application.

package = "@xata.io/netlify"

With the GitHub and Vercel or Netlify integrations installed, you can now follow a typical code-based PR workflow to migrate your database through code and provide previews during PRs. At a summary level, you'll find yourself performing the following workflow loop to branch, review and merge your changes. We'll go through each step individually.

  1. Create and checkout a new code branch with git branch my_feature for your feature.
  2. Create a new Xata branch with xata branch create my_feature, then update your .env file to point to the my_feature branch.
  3. Perform a xata pull my_feature command in your local project to pull in the changes, generating the necessary client and migration code files.
  4. Continue to edit your code and database as needed
  5. Commit the migration files (along with any other code) and create a new GitHub PR.
  6. The Xata App will add a comment to your PR with a health check of your migration. It will also generate a preview-my_feature branch with data copied from your source branch.
  7. If Netlify or Vercel is also present in that repository, the deployment previews for your application will use the Xata preview-my_feature as the source for those previews.
  8. On merge of the PR, Xata will perform an automatic migration, applying your branch schema to your target branch.

Similar to a project without Xata, you'll want to start your project off by creating a new Git branch for your changes. Let's assume a new feature called my_feature that we're branching from main.

git branch my_feature
git checkout my_feature

The Xata CLI creates client and migration files that will vary based upon the database you are pointing to. Due to this we always recommend creating a new git branch when making changes to a Xata database's schema.

In the same Xata database that we installed the integrations to, create a new database branch using either the UI or the CLI. Although the name of the branch does not need to match the Git branch we made earlier, it's typically good practice, so we'll use the CLI to make a my_feature branch. Xata will assume you are branching from your main database branch unless told otherwise.

## If you haven't done so yet, you'll need to do a one-time initialization to let Xata know which database to use:
xata init

## Once initialized, create a new a branch from main:
xata branch create my_feature

## The above command is the equivalent of:
xata branch create my_feature --from main

If either of these commands fail, you likely haven't installed the Xata CLI locally. Please run through the installation guide and return here after.

Once your database is initialized and your branch is created you should now see a my_feature branch within the UI.

UI and code in sync
UI and code in sync

At this point we can make changes to our schema in our new my_feature without worrying about breaking our production database. Using the UI, we'll create a new keywords column with the multiple select type.

Adding a keywords column
Adding a keywords column

To tell our local environment to use the my_feature branch we set up we'll need to also edit our .env file and add the following line. This tells Xata which branch to point to when running development. For more information about API keys and the .env file, check out our installation guide.


As you edit the schema to your database branch you'll want to pull down any client information (like TypeScript types) and migration files. Unlike git, when running xata pull commands you will always need to reference the branch you want to pull from. To pull in the changes to our my_feature branch run the following command.

xata pull my_feature

On completion, notice Xata updated our client files in src/xata.ts and added migration files in the .xata/migrations folder. The later files are needed for GitHub to pick up on the changes we've made. Each time you make changes to your database branch, you will need to run xata pull my_feature.

Once you are happy with your changes you should commit your files and create a GitHub pull request for your Git branch. Xata's GitHub application will look for new files in your .xata/migrations folder so make sure they are included in the commit. Regardless of whether migrations are present, Xata will generate a preview branch for any pull request you deploy using a preview-{branch_name} naming system. This is done by forking the main branch, applying schema migrations from the pull request branch and copying over sample data from main (excluding file attachments). The Xata app bot will leave a comment with the details.

If you also have Vercel or Netlify configured for your repository, you should see their bot make a similar comment. As long as your integrations were set up properly, the preview deployment that your host provides should use the preview database that Xata provides. The workflow should be the same whether you are using the Netlify of Vercel integration.

Xata bot on GitHub
Xata bot on GitHub

On merge of your PR the following actions will occur.

  1. GitHub will merge down code, including the files in the .xata/migrations folder
  2. Xata will notice the change and perform a migration, changing the schema in your target branch.
  3. Xata will delete the preview-my_feature branch
  4. Your host (Vercel or Netlify) will deploy your website, utilizing your newly migrated main branch.

You can confirm the migration was performed on the Xata side by going to your database's migrations page. With the status set to merged you will see a record of the completed migration, along with a link to the GitHub PR that trigged it.

Migration merged
Migration merged

At this point your migration is complete. Xata continues to keep the my_feature branch around in case you still need it, but it should now have the same schema as your target branch. Feel free to delete it and begin a new branch for your next feature.

Getting GitHub, Xata, Vercel, or Netlify to work together is usually simpler when you start by connecting GitHub first, and then Vercel or Netlify. If you were previously using Vercel with Xata without our official integration, do the following:

  1. Ensure you remove any Xata-related environment variables, like XATA_BRANCH, that you may have set before you proceed with the integration. This step is essential to avoid permission errors.
  2. After you've cleared these variables, apply the integration. The integration will automatically manage these environment variables for you.

If you are having trouble getting a specific integration working, you can try resolving the issue by removing the integration from the settings page of the source provider (GitHub, Vercel, or Netlify) and then reconfiguring the integration.

The GitHub integration will output errors if your migration files are out of sync with the migration history we have on record in Xata. Typically errors can happen when you accidentally pull from the wrong branch or wrong database. Here's a good list of things to diagnose if you're told a migration isn't possible.

  • Is your XATA_BRANCH setting in .env pointing to the correct branch?
  • Does your .xatarc file match the correct database endpoint?
  • Did you run xata pull against the correct data branch? Have you run it recently?
  • Are you running the CLI with the correct API credentials?
  • GitHub accounts can only be connected to a single Xata account. If you're unsure which Xata account you used, try logging in to Xata with GitHub, and then deleting that account.

Since the .xata/migrations folder is simply a code-based ledger of the content we keep on the server, you can always delete the folder and rerun xata pull my_feature to rebuild it. Then recommit your files to GitHub and check the results.

If you've already run xata pull and committed it, but you are still recieving errors from our app in GitHub, try manually deleting the preview-my_feature database branch within the Xata UI. Your next commit to GitHub should create a new, working preview branch from your migration files.

  • When you create a preview branch, a subset of your data from the primary branch will be copied.
  • When copying data, it is assumed that the main and preview branches have identical schemas at the time of copying.
  • We guarantee point-in-time consistency of the data. As a result, any changes made to the main branch during the data copying process will not be incorporated into the preview branch.
  • Xata currently has a copy limit of 10,000 rows per database.
  • If your main branch database is under 10,000 rows, all your data will get copied. This includes columns with sensitive data. We have it on our roadmap to configure obfuscation of columns in the near future.
  • If your main branch database has more than 10,000 rows, we will copy approximately 10,000 rows, while ensuring the subset is self-contained - meaning that all the links resolve correctly.
  • To ensure that the links resolve correctly, we will sometimes copy more than 10,000 rows.
  • Due to the wide variability in database schemas, Xata cannot guarantee a specific number of rows will be copied per table. However, Xata will ensure that at least one row is copied in every table.
  • Typically, the data copying process takes less than 2 minutes to complete under normal circumstances.

On this page

Migrations with GitHubPrerequisitesIntegration and account setupLink your Xata account to your GitHub accountInstall the Xata integration for GitHubInstall the Xata integration for Vercel or NetlifyInstallation for VercelInstallation for NetlifyBranching your databaseCreate a new Git branchInitialize Xata and create a branchPull in Xata branch changes to the codeCommit code and create a pull requestMerge your PRNext stepsTroubleshootingMigrations and preview branchesLimitationsPreview branch data copying limitations