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Database schema

Keystone models its data using Lists, which comprise of Fields. In order to store data we need to translate the Keystone data model into an appropriate form for the underlying data store. This transformation is handled by the database adapters.

This transformation is generally reasonably simple. A List called User in Keystone will have table called Users in PostgreSQL or a collection called users in MongoDB. For most field types there is also a one to to correspondence between a Keystone Field and a PostgreSQL column or MongoDB field. Each field type is responsible for articulating the exact correspondence, which includes the storage types and any auxiliary data that needs to be stored.

The most complicated aspect of the database schema is the representation of relationships. To understand the storage of relationships you should first make sure you understand the basic ideas behind Keystone relationships.

One-to-many

JS
keystone.createList('User', {
  fields: {
    name: { type: Text },
  },
});

keystone.createList('Post', {
  fields: {
    title: { type: Text },
    content: { type: Text },
    author: { type: Relationship, ref: 'User', many: false },
  },
});

If we consider the above one-to-many relationship we know that each Post has a single author of type User. This means that we Post needs to store a reference to a single User.

In PostgreSQL this is stored as a foreign key column called author on the Posts table, In MongoDB it is stored as a field called author on the posts collection with type ObjectID.

The two-sided cases is handled identically to the one-sided case.

Many-to-many

JS
keystone.createList('User', {
  fields: {
    name: { type: Text },
  },
});

keystone.createList('Post', {
  fields: {
    title: { type: Text },
    content: { type: Text },
    authors: { type: Relationship, ref: 'User', many: true },
  },
});

If we consider the above many-to-many relationship we know that each Post has a multiple authors of type User. This means that we Post needs to store multiple reference to Users, and also each User can be referenced by multiple Posts.

To store this information we use a join table with two columns. One column holds a reference to Posts and the other holds a reference to Users. In PostgreSQL this is implemented as a table where the contents of each column is a foreign key referencing the respective table. In MongoDB this is implemented as a collection the contents of each field is an ObjectID referencing the respective column.

The two-sided cases is handled using the same pattern, however the generated table/collection and column/fields names will be different.

One-to-one

JS
keystone.createList('User', {
  fields: {
    name: { type: Text },
    post: { type: Relationship, ref: 'Post.author', many: false },
  },
});

keystone.createList('Post', {
  fields: {
    title: { type: Text },
    content: { type: Text },
    author: { type: Relationship, ref: 'User.post', many: false },
  },
});

If we consider the above one-to-one relationship we know that each Post has a single author, and each User is the author of a single Post. This is similar to the one-to-many case, however now because of the symmetry of the configuration it is possible to store the data on either the Post or User table.

To break this symmetry we pick the list with the name that comes first alphabetically, so in this case Post. Just as in the one-to-many case, in PostgreSQL the data is stored as a foreign key column called author on the Posts table. In MongoDB it is stored as a field called author on the posts collection with type ObjectID.

On this page

  • One-to-many
  • Many-to-many
  • One-to-one
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