Sequelize timestamps option and format explained

Posted on Feb 08, 2022

Learn how the Sequelize timestamps option works with code examples


The timestamps option in Sequelize models allows you to add two time-related attributes to the model.

The two attributes added to your model are createdAt and updatedAt attributes.

Consider the following User model:

const User = sequelize.define(
  "User",
  { firstName: Sequelize.STRING }
);

When you sync() the above model, the generated CREATE TABLE statement would be as shown below:

CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS `Users` (
  `id` integer NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT,
  `firstName` varchar(255),
  `createdAt` DATETIME NOT NULL,
  `updatedAt` DATETIME NOT NULL,
  PRIMARY KEY (`id`)
) ENGINE = InnoDB;

Notice how the table has two extra columns: createdAt and updatedAt columns of DATETIME value.

The createdAt column will store the timestamp of when a new row was inserted, while the updatedAt column will store a timestamp of when the row was last updated.

The two columns are added to your model by the timestamps option which defaults to true.

If you don’t want the columns, you need to set the timestamps option as false when you define your model:

const User = sequelize.define(
  "User",
  { firstName: Sequelize.STRING },
  { timestamps: false }
);

With timestamps: false, the generated model will omit the createdAt and updatedAt attributes.

You can also opt to include only the timestamp attribute you need as shown below:

const User = sequelize.define(
  "User",
  { firstName: Sequelize.STRING },
  { 
    timestamps: true,
    createdAt: false, // don't add createdAt attribute
    updatedAt: true,
  }
);

When you have timestamp columns in your SQL table with different names, you can add the column names as aliases to the createdAt and updatedAt attributes as shown below:

const User = sequelize.define(
  "User",
  { firstName: Sequelize.STRING },
  { 
    timestamps: true,
    createdAt: "created_date", // alias createdAt as created_date
    updatedAt: "updated_at", // alias updatedAt as updated_at
  }
);

You may have already noted from the CREATE TABLE statement that the createdAt and updatedAt columns created by Sequelize don’t have the DEFAULT and ON UPDATE options added.

This means that the columns are populated by values sent from Sequelize instead of the server calculating the values itself.

If you use the timestamps option of Sequelize models, then you need to keep this in mind when you remove or switch Sequelize with another ORM library in the future.

Using TIMESTAMP instead of DATETIME type

Sequelize uses the DATETIME type for the time-related attributes.

If you want to use the TIMESTAMP type, then you need to manually specify the attributes as TIMESTAMP types in your model as shown below:

const User = sequelize.define(
  "User",
  {
    firstName: Sequelize.STRING,
    createdAt: {
      type: "TIMESTAMP",
      defaultValue: sequelize.literal("CURRENT_TIMESTAMP"),
      allowNull: false,
    },
    updatedAt: {
      type: "TIMESTAMP",
      defaultValue: sequelize.literal(
        "CURRENT_TIMESTAMP ON UPDATE CURRENT_TIMESTAMP"
      ),
      allowNull: false,
    },
  },
  {
    timestamps: false,
  }
);

Syncing the above model will generate the following CREATE TABLE statement:

CREATE TABLE IF NOT EXISTS `Users` (
  `id` integer NOT NULL AUTO_INCREMENT,
  `firstName` varchar(255),
  `createdAt` timestamp NOT NULL 
    DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP,
  `updatedAt` timestamp NOT NULL 
    DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP ON UPDATE CURRENT_TIMESTAMP,
  PRIMARY KEY (`id`)
) ENGINE = InnoDB;

The defaultValue option specified above will also add the DEFAULT and ON UPDATE options for the created columns.

Now you’ve learned how the timestamps option works in Sequelize, as well as how to change the type from DATETIME to TIMESTAMP. Good work! 👍

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