Understand the difference between object-oriented and relational databases

Work within medium and large companies is increasingly intertwined with digital technology. The main reason for this is the way organizations deal with information on a daily basis. The digital marketing is a good example , as is increasingly driven by statistics and data correlation than by individual observation, which brings us to the importance of understanding the difference between relational database and object – oriented.

Therefore, different technologies are adopted in order to facilitate the capture, storage and retrieval of this information. The biggest example of this are databases, which can come in different formats depending on the size of the company and its methodologies.

As they are different from each other, each one also has its own characteristics that must be taken into account before its implementation. A good starting point is to understand the difference between relational and goal-oriented databases, two types that are very common in large companies and projects.

Follow and understand more about the subject.

What are databases?

Before talking about the difference between relational and object-oriented databases, it is important to establish a better definition of what a database is.

Simply put, it is an information storage system, which have some correlation with each other. This correlation can be a direct association, ranking, categorization or other type of logic. The idea is to facilitate the organization of this information , as well as its daily applicability.

Databases are used in all types of procedures in companies, especially in registration and customer service. In this way, the service can be better suited to your audience, in addition to being more agile.

What is a relational database?

Once you understand the fundamentals, it becomes easier to know the types of databases . Relational databases are based on the relationship between information and different factors. In practice, you can view it as a table, where each column represents a type of information associated with a row.

Each of these rows and columns here is called a key. The first column usually represents a Primary Key, which will serve as the basis for identifying the row. Each Primary Key must be unique, preventing mixing of information. This means, for example, that two customers cannot be registered with the same name, but can be registered in the same city.

What is an object-oriented database?

Alternatively, an object-oriented database is organized in the form of different objects, which contain grouped files and information, as well as procedures for reading and processing them. Unlike the relational model, it does not follow a rigid pre-established “logic” , creating only blocks of information, each with an associated Object Identifier for identification.

If the first example was viewed in the form of a table, this one is presented as a series of boxes with individual labels. There is no direct relationship between the placement and its content , being necessary to locate the object/box you are looking for to find information contained in it.

How do your features differ?

Much of the difference between object-oriented and relational databases is more technical, not always visible to the user. However, from a technology and especially management perspective, it is important to recognize how each format handles your data and how it fits with your context.

Some of the main points where these of the database types differ are.

storage structure

That’s the fundamental difference between the two. In a relational database, each individual information is stored as a separate file, independent from the others, and there is no support for the persistent storage of objects with a complex structure. The focus is on more direct data.

Object-oriented databases use identifiers to label each object, along with indexing techniques for locating pages on disk. As a result, the system is able to support more complexly structured objects.

Information retrieval method

In order for your data to be effectively useful, you also need an effective recovery method. Without this, it will not be practical to apply them in day-to-day decision-making.

An object-oriented database, as we’ve already mentioned, uses Object Identifiers, which are like labels. When doing a search for one of these labels, the system brings you the set of files and information contained in it . And, within that object, there can be other types of internal hierarchies and relationships.

The relational model, in turn, makes use of two relational keys. The primary, as already mentioned, is the base, usually represented in the first column of the table and identifies each row. Then a foreign key is used, which is related to the primary. Together, both serve as a coordinate for locating the information sought.

Likewise, there may be secondary or tertiary keys, which act as search filters. This way, it is possible to use other keys and separate those that have specific information in a certain area, or those that have an empty area.

Data complexity

Another difference between relational and object-oriented databases is the volume and complexity of information that each imposes . Even though the volume itself is only limited by your hardware, there are still some features to consider.

An object-oriented database, having fewer structural constraints, can contain much more information and in greater variety. This results in a more flexible data system facing multiple file formats, for example.

A relational database, on the other hand, contains a lower level of complexity, which results in a relatively smaller volume of information.


Different systems can also impose different restrictions on their structure, as well as on how this data can be manipulated. Something important when assigning permissions and ensuring the integrity of information.

Object-oriented databases have a wide variety of permissions and restrictions depending on the system, making it impossible to generalize them. Relational databases have keys, referential integrity, and entity integrity imposed as part of their method .

Data manipulation language

Computers and people communicate information in completely different ways. Humans use words and language, while computers use binary code. The programming language is a happy medium between the two, which is also used for data manipulation.

In object-oriented databases, manipulation is incorporated directly into the programming language used, such as C#, for example. Therefore, at least a basic understanding of the programming language is needed to manipulate it.

A relational database, on the other hand, includes its own language to manipulate its information , such as SQL, QBE or QUEL. This somewhat lowers the barrier to using this system more efficiently.

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