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Record: Meaning of the term in database context

A database is made of one or more tables.

A table is easily visualized if you have used spreadsheets... a (database) table is a two dimensional entity of rows and columns of "little boxes", the last not being a technical term!

In each little box there is some information. In a spreadsheet, the information can be random. In a database, there is a rigid organization to the information.

For the sake of discussion, let's imagine a table with information about people.

Each row, each record, in database terminology, would be about one person.

Each column, each field, in database terminology, would be about an attribute of the person... name, date of birth, height... whatever. The record might well hold less obvious things, like the database's unique "code" for that person.

While either can be changed if the database's schema is changed....

... is constant across the whole table. (Of course, the field, say, for the age of the fifth person in the table may have no entry, but, if there is an "age" field in any record, there is an age field for every record.)

"Nature of what each field can hold": In some cases, the field must have a number, in others any characters are allowed, usually with a limit to the number of characters allowed. A field can be restricted to just "y" or "n". All of these restrictions are set by the database designer, and each combination of restrictions has pros and cons. The matter is a question of the data type, or "field type", in Open Office terminology, chosen for the field.

Further help

Introductory information about the term can be found in...

Introduction to database work... mostly a restatement of the above!
Data types: More on the restraints on what goes in a field.

Ordinarily, I might have a "see also" section here. In this case, it would say "See also field and table... but if you go to either of those, in this case you will only see something similar to the above!!

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