I have a question that's been bugging me for quite some time.
Let's say we have a small business that has both private and corporate
We want to store contact and address data about these customers, as well
as invoicing data. Off course, only companies have VAT numbers.
When normalising this design, you would reach something like the following:
- table for contact details (separate, because multiple contact details
- table for address details (separate, because multiple addresses may
- table for people (first name, last name, etc)
- table for companies (company name and vat number)
- tables that link the above data to each other (people-contact,
people-address, people-company, company-address, ...)
- table for customers, i.e. 'entities' that are invoiced
This is where it gets nasty. A customer may be a human being or a
company. I see different approaches here:
1) keep customer tables separate, based on which type of customer it is
2) create the customer table with a column specifying if we're dealing
with a human being or a company
3) create the customer table with a FK for people and a FK for
companies, and decide on the customer type in the application based on
the presence of that key
Option 1 seems to ridiculous to do: way too much bloody hassle
Option 2 may be viable, but we lose the foreign key constraint
Option 3 seems like the best idea, but this would mean keeping a table
that takes 50% of useless space
Neither option satisfies me. My idea right now is a 'False Company'
Create a row for a company that is no real company and link all private
customers to that company. This way, the customer table has 1 FK, for
the companies table.
This off course implies that some global variable be present in the
application that is used to identify the 'False Company'. Awkward to say
What do you guys think about this ? Which option is most viable ? Which
solution have you chosen ?
And finally: am I going about this all wrong, because I was asleep
during most of my formal education years ? :)
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