What is the difference between a flat file database and a relational database?
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive emails regarding relevant topic offers from TechTarget and its partners. You can withdraw your consent at any time. Contact TechTarget at 275 Grove Street, Newton, MA.
A "flat file" database allows the user to specify data attributes (columns, datatypes, etc) for one table at a time, storing those attributes independantly of an application. dBase III and Paradox were good examples of this kind of database in the CP/M and MS-DOS environments, and the original FileMaker was a good Mac O/S example.
A relational database takes this "flat file" approach several logical steps further, allowing the user to specify information about multiple tables and the relationships between those tables, and often allowing much more declarative control over what rules the data in those tables must obey (constraints).
For More Information
- Dozens more answers to tough database design questions from Pat Phelan
- The Best Database Design Web Links: tips, tutorials, scripts, and more
- Have an Oracle or SQL tip to offer your fellow DBAs and developers? The best tips submitted will receive a cool prize. Submit your tip today!
- Ask your database design questions -- or help out your peers by answering them -- in our live discussion forums.
- Ask the Experts yourself: Our SQL, database design, Oracle, SQL Server, DB2, metadata, object-oriented and data warehousing gurus are waiting to answer your toughest questions.
Related Q&A from Pat Phelan
Have a question for an expert?
Please add a title for your question
Get answers from a TechTarget expert on whatever's puzzling you.