# DBML - Full Syntax Docs

DBML (database markup language) is a simple, readable DSL language designed to define database structures. This page outlines the full syntax documentations of DBML.

# Take a look at an example below:
Table users {
    id integer
    username varchar
    role varchar
    created_at timestamp

Table posts {
    id integer [primary key]
    title varchar
    body text [note: 'Content of the post']
    user_id integer
    created_at timestamp

Ref: posts.user_id > users.id // many-to-one

# Table Definition

Table table_name {
    column_name column_type [column_settings]
  • title of database table is listed as table_name
  • name of the column is listed as column_name
  • type of the data in the column listed as column_type
    • supports all data types, as long as it is a single word (remove all spaces in the data type). Example, JSON, JSONB, decimal(1,2), etc.
  • list is wrapped in curly brackets {}, for indexes, constraints and table definitions.
  • settings are wrapped in square brackets []
  • string value is be wrapped in a single quote as 'string'
  • column_name can be stated in just plain text, or wrapped in a double quote as "column name"

# Table Alias

You can alias the table, and use them in the references later on.

Table very_long_user_table as U {

Ref: U.id < posts.user_id

# Table Notes (coming soon)

You can add notes to the table, and refer to them in the visual plane.

Table users {
    id integer
    status varchar [note: 'status']

    [note: 'Contains all users information']

# Table Settings

Settings are all defined within square brackets: [setting1: value1, setting2: value2, setting3, setting4]

Each setting item can take in 2 forms: Key: Value or keyword, similar to that of Python function parameters.

  • color: <color_code>: change the table header color (coming soon)

    Example, [color: #3498db]

# Column Definition

# Column Settings

Each column can take have optinal settings, defined in square brackets like:

Table buildings {
    address varchar(255) [unique, not null, note: 'to include unit number']
    id integer [ pk, unique, default: 123, note: 'Number' ]

The list of column settings you can use:

  • note: 'string to add notes': add a metadata note to this column
  • primary key or pk: mark a column as primary key. For composite primary key, refer to the 'Indexes' section
  • null or not null: mark a column null or not null
  • unique: mark the column unique
  • default: some_value: set a default value of the column, please refer to the 'Default Value' section below
  • increment: mark the column as auto-increment

# Default Value

You can set default value as:

  • number value starts blank: default: 123 or default: 123.456
  • string value starts with single quotes: default: 'some string value'
  • expression value is wrapped with parenthesis: default: `now() - interval '5 days'`
  • boolean (true/false/null): default: false or default: null


Table users {
    id integer [primary key]
    username varchar(255) [not null, unique]
    full_name varchar(255) [not null]
    gender varchar(1) [default: 'm']
    created_at timestamp [default: `now()`]
    rating integer [default: 10]

# Index Definition

Indexes allow users to quickly locate and access the data. Users can define single or multi-column indexes.

Table bookings {
  id integer
  country varchar
  booking_date date
  created_at timestamp

  indexes {
      (id, country) [pk] // composite primary key
      created_at [note: 'Date']
      (country, booking_date) [unique]
      booking_date [type: hash]

There are 3 types of index definitions:

  • Index with single field (with index name): CREATE INDEX on users (created_at)
  • Index with multiple fields (composite index): CREATE INDEX on users (created_at, country)
  • Index with an expression: CREATE INDEX ON films ( first_name + last_name )
  • (bonus) Composite index with expression: CREATE INDEX ON users ( country, (lower(name)) )

# Index Settings

  • type: type of index (btree, gin, gist, hash depending on DB). For now, only type btree and hash are accepted.
  • name: name of index
  • unique: unique index
  • pk: primary key

# Relationships & Foreign Key Definitions

Relationships are used to define foreign key constraints between tables.

Table posts {
    id integer [primary key]
    user_id integer [ref: > users.id] // many-to-one

// or this
Table users {
    id integer [ref: < posts.user_id, ref: < reviews.user_id] // one to many

// The space after '<' is optional

There are 3 types of relationships: one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-one

  • <: one-to-many. E.g: users.id < posts.user_id
  • >: many-to-one. E.g: posts.user_id > users.id
  • -: one-to-one. E.g: users.id - user_infos.user_id

In DBML, there are 3 syntaxes to define relationships:

//Long form
Ref name_optional {
  table1.column1 < table2.column2

//Short form:
Ref name_optional: table1.column1 < table2.column2

// Inline form
Table posts {
    id integer
    user_id integer [ref: > users.id]

# Relationship settings

Ref: products.merchant_id > merchants.id [delete: cascade, update: no action]
  • delete / update: cascade | restrict | set null | set default | no action
    Define referential actions. Similar to ON DELETE/UPDATE CASCADE/... in SQL.

Relationship settings are not supported for inline form ref.

# Many-to-many relationship

For many-to-many relationship, we don't have a syntax for it as we believe it should be represented as 2 many-to-one relationships. For more information, please refer to https://www.holistics.io/blog/dbdiagram-io-many-to-many-relationship-diagram-generator-script/

# Comments

You can comment in your code using //, so it is easier for you to review the code later.


// order_items refer to items from that order

# Metadata Column Notes

You can add notes to your columns, so you can easily refer to it when hovering over the column in the diagram canvas.

column_name column_type [note: 'replace text here']


Table orders {
    status varchar [
    note: '
    💸 1 = processing, 
    ✔️ 2 = shipped, 
    ❌ 3 = cancelled,
    😔 4 = refunded

# Enum Definition

Enum allows users to define different values of a particular column. When hovering over the column in the canvas, the enum values will be displayed.

enum job_status {
    created [note: 'Waiting to be processed']

Table jobs {
    id integer
    status job_status

# TableGroup (coming soon)

TableGroup allows users to group the related or associated tables together.

TableGroup tablegroup_name { // tablegroup is case-insensitive.

TableGroup e-commerce1 {

# Syntax Consistency

DBML is the standard language for database and the syntax is consistent to provide clear and extensive functions.

  • curly brackets {}: grouping for indexes, constraints and table definitions
  • square brackets []: settings
  • forward slashes //: comments
  • column_name is stated in just plain text
  • single quote as 'string': string value
  • double quote as "column name": quoting variable
  • backtick `: function expression