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Application Updates

Keystone includes an updates framework, which you can enable by setting the auto update option to true.

Updates provide an easy way to seed your database, transition data when your models change, or run transformation scripts against your database.

Update files should be named using a semantic version followed by an optional key, like 0.0.1-init.js. The version numbers are used to order the update scripts correctly, while the keys are a nice way to identify what each update does.

Each update file should export a single function, which should accept a single argument - the next(err) callback, to be called when the update is complete.

All the update files will be executed (each one waits for the previous update to complete) before the web server is started.

If the next callback receives an error it will be reported to the console, and application initialisation will halt.

You can temporarily disable updates from running in development by setting a __defer__ property on the exported function to true. Any subsequent updates will be skipped, but the application will be started.

Updates are only run once, and each completed update is logged in an app_updates collection in your database.

Update Script Example Creates a new admin User

var keystone = require('keystone');
var User = keystone.list('User');

exports = module.exports = function(done) {
  new User.model({
    name: { first: 'Admin', last: 'User' },
    password: 'admin',
    isAdmin: true

A Note on Required Relationships

The application updates framework saves all of the items it receives before it connects up their relationships. This means if your item has a required relationship, the initial save will fail.

Please consider opting out of the exports.create mechanism to instead have more control of the direct operations that happen with Mongo, for example:

const keystone = require('keystone');
const PostCategory = keystone.list('PostCategory');
const Post = keystone.list('Post');

const importData = [
    { name: 'A draft post', category: 'Keystone JS' },

exports = function (done) {
    const importPromise = importData.map(({ name, category }) => createPost({ name, category }));

    importPromise.then(() => done()).catch(done);

const categories = {};

const createPost = ({ name, category }) => {
    let postCategory = new PostCategory.model({ category });
    if (categories[category]) {
        postCategory = categories[category];
    categories[category] = postCategory;
    const post = new Post.model({ name });
    post.category = postCategory._id.toString();
    return Promise.all([

Fixing this properly would require significant refactoring of how the update framework works, which we're unable to commit to for the moment. The relevant GitHub Issue is here, and of course PRs are always welcome.