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Atlas was meant to be used as a CLI tool. Despite being written in Go, it is targeted for the engineering community at large, agnostic to which programming language you use in your project. For this reason, the public API which the project commits to support is the CLI.

Having said that, Atlas is widely popular in the Go community and we want to make sure that Go developers can easily integrate Atlas into their projects. To support these kind of integrations, we provide a simple wrapper SDK called atlasexec around the Atlas CLI which can be used to drive the CLI from Go code. This SDK is used by official integrations of Atlas, such as some GitHub Actions, the Kubernetes Operator, and the Terraform Provider.


To get started, make sure you have the Atlas CLI installed:

To download and install the latest release of the Atlas CLI, simply run the following in your terminal:

curl -sSf | sh

Next, add the atlasexec package to your Go project:

go get


Let's create a dummy migration directory to demonstrate how to use the SDK:

mkdir atlasgosdk
cd atlasgosdk

Next, let's create a simple migration:

atlas migrate new --edit create_users

This will open an editor where you can type the migration code. Let's add a statement that creates a users table:


A migration file along with an atlas.sum file will be created in the current directory:

└── migrations
├── 20230815103743_create_users.sql
└── atlas.sum

1 directory, 2 files

Now, you can use the atlasexec package to drive the CLI from Go code, create a new file named main.go with the following content:

package main

import (


func main() {
// Define the execution context, supplying a migration directory
// and potentially an `atlas.hcl` configuration file using `atlasexec.WithHCL`.
workdir, err := atlasexec.NewWorkingDir(
if err != nil {
log.Fatalf("failed to load working directory: %v", err)
// atlasexec works on a temporary directory, so we need to close it
defer workdir.Close()

// Initialize the client.
client, err := atlasexec.NewClientWithDir(workdir.Path(), "atlas")
if err != nil {
log.Fatalf("failed to initialize client: %v", err)
// Run `atlas migrate apply` on a SQLite database under /tmp.
res, err := client.Apply(context.Background(), &atlasexec.ApplyParams{
URL: "sqlite:///tmp/demo.db?_fk=1&cache=shared",
if err != nil {
log.Fatalf("failed to apply migrations: %v", err)
fmt.Printf("Applied %d migrations\n", len(res.Applied))

Now, run the program:

go run main.go

Observe the output:

Applied 1 migrations

You can also run the program again and observe that no migrations are applied:

Applied 0 migrations

Wrapping up

In this tutorial, we have seen how to use the atlasexec package to drive the Atlas CLI from Go code. We focused on the Apply method, but the SDK also provides methods for SchemaApply, Status, Inspect, and more. For more information, please refer to the package documentation.