What's the Best way to Set Up a Relational Database?

I am gathering pricing data for an e-commerce site that is dependent on the previous selection. For example: Product selected (29 choices ) > type of coating (6 choices) > size (12 choices) > sides printed (3 choices- 4:0, 4:1, 4:4) > quantity (15 choices) > PRICE. Then, shipping (6 choices). I know it seems pretty straightforward, but because it's a tedious job gathering all of the information, I don't want to find out there's a better way to do it or a better format when I hand the spreadsheet over to my developer. What do I need to be mindful of when gathering dependent data that will be dumped into a database and fuel an e-commerce site?


I'm a developer of over 20 years experience and I've been building relational databases the whole time with varying degrees of normalization. I like it best when the problem is given to me as you stated above.

From your statement, it seems like you are trying to design the database. Instead, you hired a developer, and that is what they do. Have him or her design the database. Give them all the information you have and answer all their questions in a timely manner and you'll get what you need.

I'm not sure of your area of expertise or the relationship with and faith you have in your developer, but I would provide him the information from your question above. From that he/she should fire back a bunch of questions to you such as:
1. does every product require every choice?
2. Can a product have multiple options for a given choice?
3. Are the options for choices different dependent on the product?
4. Is there a higher level to consider of product categories?
... I think you get the idea.
Using this dialog can help you both think of concepts or situations you both have missed and provide you with a more robust solution.

I'd be happy to get on a call with you to discuss this further but it sounds like you have everything you need except maybe confidence in your developer(s). Best of luck.

Answered 8 years ago


My name is Erik and i'm a Senior Database Architect with more than 15 years of experience and I also have 10 years of experience managing programmers.

The best way to ensure data relations between your objects (Product selected, type of coating, etc) is the following: you should explain to the developer that you want a 100% dynamic parent/child associations between objects without any limits on associations between objects.

If you need more details and/or want to schedule a call, we can go over your business requirements and I can help you build the technical specs for your programmer. I am also available to develop the data structure that you need.


Erik Hanley

Answered 8 years ago

Start with a LAMP Stack - Linux + Apache + MariaDB + PHP.

Be sure to use latest Ubuntu (Linux) as your OS.

Be sure to use latest MariaDB rather than MySQL for your database.

Hire someone who's written a truckload of SQL over decades.

Have them design your database, based on how products will be accessed + searched for, as this will determine speed of your system.

Can't tell you the number of clients I've taken on in my private hosting company, where years worth of code + database design has to be scrapped because it was done incorrectly.

Hire an expert to do this right... the first time + you'll save yourself a huge amount of time + money + you'll be able to sleep well at night.

Answered 7 years ago

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