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How to use schemacrawler to generate schema diagrams for SQLite from the commandline (Mac OS)

Installing and using schemacrawler for MacOS

A recipe for generating cool SQLite database diagrams with schemacrawler on MacOS

This was tested on MacOS 10.14.5 on 2019-07-16

schemacrawler is a free and open-source database schema discovery and comprehension tool. It can be invoked from the command-line to produce, using GraphViz, images/pdfs from a SQLite (or other database type) file. It can be used from the command-line to generate schema diagrams like these:


To see more examples of commands and diagrams, visit scheacrawler's docs:

Install graphviz dependency

For schema drawing, schemacrawler uses graphviz, which can be installed via the Homebrew package manager:

brew install graphviz

Installing schemacrawler as a command-line tool

This section gives an example of how to install schemacrawler so that you can invoke it with your shell. There isn't a Homebrew recipe, so the shell commands basically:

  • Download a release zip from schemacrawler/releases
  • Copies the relevant subdir from the release into a local directory, e.g. /usr/local/opt/schemacrawler
  • Creates a simple shell script that saves you from having to run schemacrawler via the java executable
  • symlinks this shell script into an executable path, e.g. /usr/local/bin

Downloading and installing schemacrawler

The latest releases can be found on the Github page:

Setting up schemacrawler to run on your system via $ schemacrawler

In this gist, I've attached a shell script that automates the downloading of the schemacrawler ZIP file from its Github repo, installs it, creates a helper script, and creates a symlink to that helper script so you can invoke it via:

$ schemacrawler ...

You can copy the script into a file and invoke it, or copy-paste it directly into Bash. Obviously, as with anything you copy-paste, read it for yourself to make sure I'm not attempting to do something malicious.

(An older version of this script can be found here)

A couple of notes about

The script has a few defaults – e.g. /usr/local/opt/ and /usr/local/bin/ – which are assumed to be writeable, but you can change those default vars for yourself.

One of the effects of is that it creates a Bash script named something like

Its contents are:

This script is a derivation of schemacrawler's schemacrawler-distrib/src/assembly/, the contents of which are:

General usage

Now that schemacrawler is installed as an executable shell command, here's an example of how to invoke it – change DBNAME.sqlite and OUTPUT_IMAGE_FILE.png to something appropriate for your usecase:

  schemacrawler -server sqlite \
    -database DBNAME.sqlite \
    -user -password \
    -infolevel standard \
    -command schema \
    -outputformat png \
    -outputfile OUTPUT_IMAGE_FILE.png

Bootload a sample SQLite database and test out schemacrawler

Just in case you don't have a database to play around with, you can copy paste this sequence of SQLite commands into your Bash shell, which will create the following empty database file at /tmp/tmpdb.sqlite

echo '''

CREATE TABLE business (
    business_id TEXT,
    name TEXT,
    address TEXT,
    city TEXT,
    postal_code TEXT,
    latitude DECIMAL,
    longitude DECIMAL,
    phone_number TEXT,
    application_date TEXT,
    owner_name TEXT

CREATE TABLE inspection (
    business_id TEXT,
    "Score" NUMERIC,
    date TEXT NOT NULL,
    type TEXT NOT NULL,
    FOREIGN KEY(business_id) REFERENCES business(business_id)

CREATE TABLE violation (
    business_id TEXT,
    date TEXT,
    "ViolationTypeID" TEXT,
    risk_category TEXT,
    description TEXT,
    FOREIGN KEY(business_id, date) REFERENCES inspection(business_id, date)
);''' \
  | sqlite3 /tmp/tmpdb.sqlite

Invoke schemacrawler like so:

schemacrawler -server sqlite \
  -database /tmp/tmpdb.sqlite \
  -user -password \
  -infolevel standard \
  -command schema \
  -outputformat png \
  -outputfile /tmp/mytmpdb.png

The output of that Bash command will be a file /tmp/tmpdb.sqlite, which looks like this:


GraphViz visual properties

You can edit, which is found wherever you installed the schemacrawler distribution – e.g. if you ran my installer script, it would be in /usr/local/opt/schemacrawler/config/

Some example settings:




schemacrawler.graph.graphviz.graph.fontname=Helvetica Neue

If you append the previous snippet to the default, you'll get output that looks like this:


More info about GraphViz in this StackOverflow Q:

How to influence layout of graph items?

## Tested on MacOS 10.14.5
## Gist URL:
# Variables and defaults
# Modify this for whatever version you're trying to download
# Pick your own temp dir
# Note that the zip archive by default creates and unzips into a subdir,
# e.g. `schemacrawler-15.06.01-distribution`
# Pick the path to store the app and the shell script
# NOTE: The parent dir – e.g. /usr/local/opt – must be writable
# Pick the symlink for the path; ideally, it's a path that is in your system's executable PATH
# NOTE: The executable PATH – e.g. /usr/local/bin – must be writable
# These defaults are derived from above
# The filename stem for the downloadable zip, as it exists on the Github filesystem,
# and the subdir it creates when unzipped
# `` is just the arbitrary name from which the symlink will be based
# Actions
# Download and unzip into $_TEMPDIR
mkdir -p ${_TEMPDIR}
printf "\nDownloading\n\t ${_SCH_URL} \n\tinto temporary directory: ${_TEMPDIR}\n\n"
curl -Lo ${_SCH_ZNAME} ${_SCH_URL}
unzip ${_SCH_ZNAME} -d ${_TEMPDIR}
printf "\n\n"
# Move subdir from release package into /usr/local/opt
printf "\nMoving contents of /tmp/${_SCH_FNAME}/_schemacrawler/ \n\tinto ${_INSTALL_DIR}"
mkdir -p ${_INSTALL_DIR}
cp -r /tmp/${_SCH_FNAME}/_schemacrawler/ ${_INSTALL_DIR}
# create the shell script manually
printf "\n\nCreating ${_SCH_SCRIPT_NAME}"
# The shell code below is a variation of what's found at:
#!/usr/bin/env bash
java -cp \$(echo \${SCHEMACRAWL_DIR}/lib/*.jar | tr ' ' ':'):\${SCHEMACRAWL_DIR}/config schemacrawler.Main "\$@"
# make the shell script executable and symlink it
printf "\n\nSymlinking ${_SCH_SCRIPT_NAME} \n\tto ${_SCH_SYMLINK}\n\n"
chmod +x ${_SCH_SCRIPT_NAME}
# This was tested on MacOS 10.13
# set up some variables to reduce redundancy
# Download and unzip into /tmp
curl -Lo ${_SCH_TNAME} ${_SCH_URL}
unzip ${_SCH_TNAME}
# Move subdir from release package into /usr/local/opt
mkdir -p ${_SCH_DIR}
cp -r /tmp/${_SCH_BNAME}/_schemacrawler/ ${_SCH_DIR}
# create the shell script manually
echo '#!/usr/bin/env bash' > ${_SCH_SH}
echo "SC_DIR=${_SCH_DIR}" >> ${_SCH_SH}
echo "java -cp \$(echo \$SC_DIR/lib/*.jar | tr ' ' ':'):\$SC_DIR/config schemacrawler.Main \"\$@\"" \
>> ${_SCH_SH}
# make it executable and symlink it
chmod +x ${_SCH_SH}
ln -sf ${_SCH_SH} /usr/local/bin/schemacrawler
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PavelPolyakov commented Jul 17, 2019

Nice guide, thank you!

(part of the comment is removed, since is not actual anymore)

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dannguyen commented Jul 17, 2019

@PavelPolyakov thanks! Looks like I also needed to run unzip with the -d ${TEMPDIR} flag so that it wouldn't install to wherever you were running the commands. Created an updated version of the script to reflect this.

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PavelPolyakov commented Jul 18, 2019

@dannguyen cool, I suggest we remove the old ones to not confuse people

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jdraths commented Aug 18, 2020

👍 I forgot to chmod 744 the script file at first and was banging my head for a minute.


is there a way to use this on windows 10 ?

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