Comma List vs Multiple Records

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Question :

I am currently building out an application that will contain many users, two roles and two groups. Logically we want users to be able to be administrators of other users within the two groups.

User Table

UserID         varchar    PK
Role           int        FK `role`.`RoleID`

DATA [jschmo,Joe Schmo,,1]

Role Table

RoleID         int        PK     AI
RoleName       varchar

DATA [1=Master,2=Admin,3=User]

Group Table

GroupID        int        PK     AI

DATA [1=Marketing,2=Infrastructure]

A user could potentially be an admin of both groups. I don’t see the option to multi-select foreign keys but as I understand it, having a comma-delimited list in a column is a bad idea and I should use multiple records but I don’t like the idea of having multiple records for each user.

Q: How would I keep track of which groups a user is an admin of?

Answer :

Please, don’t store comma-separated lists in a single column. This is just a disaster waiting to happen. If these are separate facts, they should be stored separately.

Table GroupMemberRoles
GroupID  FK
UserID   FK
RoleID   FK
(PK on all three, with perhaps other constraints)

Your queries (say, to find the admins of a certain group) should be of the form:

WHERE RoleID = 1 AND GroupID = @GroupID;

And NOT:

WHERE RoleID = 1 AND ',' + GroupIDList + ',' LIKE ',' + RTRIM(@GroupID) + ','; 

Or to find which groups a user is an admin of should be similarly simple:

WHERE RoleID = 1 AND UserID = @UserID;

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