· Sep 26, 2017

Whats Unique, PrimaryKey and IDKey?

Hi guys!

Unique, PrimaryKey and IDKey?
In what contexts does it apply?

IDKey sets the registry key access to the store.
PrimaryKey, Unique, and IDKey define the uniqueness in the records, but what is correct?

I use everyone? What is the context of each?

Discussion (4)0
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As you said all are unique

I try to summarize it simple:
IDkey is used in storing object s. Best to be translated : Global subscript of data store.
Could be defaulted to %Integer >0

Unique key defines an index with unique values of a property in parallel to IDkey. Checked during object save.

PrimaryKey comes from SQL world and could be interpreted  mostly as a synonym to IDkey


I would add that they exist for compatibility with systems migrated from other databases. On other SQL databases, it's a common practice to use as the primary key a meaningful attribute of the tuple such as SSN, Code, Part Number, etc. I think this is a very bad practice even on normal SQL databases since a Primary Key/IdKey, once created, can't be easily changed. If you want to have one of your meaningful fields of your tuple as your primary key, use IdKey. I strongly advise against it though.

So, instead of having as Primary Key one of the attributes of the tuple (using IdKey), it's much better to have a sequential number. This is provided by different databases in different ways. Oracle has it's SEQUENCES. SQL Server has its AUTO_INCREMENT. Continuing with Oracle and SQL Server examples, many fields/columns on a table can be populated with values from a sequence (Oracle) or be auto incremented (SQL server). But only one of the fields can be the Primary Key. The Primary Key is used by other rows on the table or other tables to reference this row. It can't be changed just because there may be other rows relying on it and that is fine.

In Caché, we have our ID field that is an auto_increment kind of primary key. Other rows/objects from this or other tables will be referencing this object through it's ID. You can create your own unique fields. As many as you want. Code, PartNum, SSN, etc. You can define them Unique indices for them all. Don't use IdKey to do that. That is not its purpose. IdKey will make that field THE Primary Key of the class. It will make its ID be the field you picked. That is very bad (IMHO).

On the other hand, there are cases where performance can be increased by using IdKey. It will save you a trip to the indices global to get the real id for that field before going to the data global to get the other fields you need. If we are talking about millions of accesses per second and you are pretty sure you won't need to change the value of that field once it was created, use IdKey. It will give you better performance. But if you do, beware that by choosing you own IdKey, you may not be able to use special kinds of indices like bitmap indices or even iFind. It will depend on the type of IdKey you pick. If it's a string, for instance, iFind and BitMap indices won't work with your class anymore. They rely on having a numeric sequential ID to work.

Kind regards,