The diff-column-order global parameter is a Boolean that determines whether the diff command and diff-changelog command compare the column order of a table between two databases. The default value is false.

Relational databases

Relational databases organize data as relations (tables) that contain rows and columns. This data is ordered in the computer’s physical memory, but you’re meant to access it by name (column name, column id…), not ordinal position (column 1, column 2…).

It’s possible to add or select columns by ordinal position if you use the statement SELECT * FROM my_table and run getValue(1) on the result set rather than getValue(name). However, this is generally considered bad practice.

This means the diff-column-order parameter usually isn’t relevant when you compare two databases.


The diff command compares two databases and reports any differences to STDOUT. The diff-changelog command compares two databases and generates a changelog containing changesets that you can deploy to resolve any differences.

If you’re comparing two databases with diff or diff-changelog, it’s best practice to leave diff-column-order at the default value of false. If you set it to true and run diff-changelog, Liquibase cannot create changesets to resolve differences in column order.

However, if you use external comparison or reporting tools which cannot easily handle differences in column order data, you can set diff-column-order to true. This way, Liquibase handles order differences before passing any data to these external tools.

Setting the diff-column-order parameter

You can set diff-column-order in four ways:

  • In the Liquibase properties file
  • As a global parameter in the CLI
  • As a JVM system property
  • As an environment variable (Liquibase Pro)

Liquibase properties file parameter

In Liquibase 4.1+, add the following to Liquibase properties file:

liquibase.diffColumnOrder: <true|false>

CLI global parameter

Tip: All commands and parameters use the --kebab-case format in the CLI environment. This is the format Liquibase recommends for best results. If your preference is camelCase, it will still work in the CLI.

In your command line, use a global parameter with a single Liquibase command:

liquibase --diff-column-order=<true|false> diff --changelog-file=dbchangelog.xml

Java system property

In your command line, use the JAVA_OPTS Environment Variable to set a JVM system property:

Mac/Linux syntax:


Windows syntax:

set JAVA_OPTS=-Dliquibase.diffColumnOrder=<true|false>

Note: To use a Liquibase command alongside JAVA_OPTS, add && liquibase <command> to the end of your input.

Environment variable (Liquibase Pro)

In Liquibase Pro, set an environment variable:

Mac/Linux syntax:


Windows syntax:


Note: These environment variable commands only apply to the current shell. If you need to pass an environment variable to a child process without affecting the parent process, you can use the export command on Mac/Linux or the setx command on Windows.


If you set diff-column-order to true and run the diff command on two databases containing tables with opposite column orders, the output includes:

Changed Column(s):
          order changed from '2' to '1'
          order changed from '1' to '2'

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