Talk:Flat file database

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definition inaccurate now[edit]

Someone went ahead and merged "flat file" with "flat file database", which I suppose is a step toward the greater good, but:

a flat file database is not always a single file database. a single file, flat file database is a special type of flat file database.

pmwiki is a flatfile database wiki, for example. it uses one page per wiki entry, and sorts the entries using file names in the filesystem tiddlywiki, on the other hand, is a flatfile database wiki, that holds everything in one file. sorting is accomplished by tag and location in the file's structure.

-maxnort96.245.14.103 (talk) 20:35, 17 September 2013 (UTC)

Hyphen (removed)[edit]

Why the hyphen in the noun? Deb 18:19, 3 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Beats the hell out of me. Edit boldly, as they say. Paul Beardsell 16:23, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Graphic example[edit]

This page lacks any example to illustrate the concept, thus it hewes more closely to theory than to the thing itself. I shall edit an upgrade at: User:Xiong/Flat file database. — Xiong (talk) 14:30, 2005 Mar 25 (UTC)

The upgrade is live. — Xiong (talk) 22:42, 2005 Mar 25 (UTC)

Repeatable fields, and Boolean logic[edit]

One improvement of flat file databases was repeatable fields. Around 1970, some DBMS included "repeatable fields". In a bibliographic application, multiple subject headings may be needed to describe a document. Before repeatable fields, the designer would have to establish as many separate subject-heading fields as the maximum number expected to be needed. Many of these fixed-length fields would be unused in most of the records, thereby wasting storage space. Repeatable fields minimized such waste. Also, Boolean logic could be used to query/search flat file databases. Before the advent of relational DBMS, many bibliographic databases were flat file databases. Should this be mentioned in this article? AnonUser 02:02, 15 October 2005 (UTC)

My rationale[edit]

I'm going to go ahead and be bold. Excel is not a flat-file database, so Excel examples do not belong. FileMaker bills itself as a fully-fledged database tool, so it's not a flat-file database either. They might be able to import/export to a flat format, but this is not native to them. The article, as it was, read like an advertisment for FileMaker, providing instructions on how to use it and how to make it look a bit like a flat file database. --Sam Pointon 17:37, 5 June 2006 (UTC)

Flat-file != Relational DB ?[edit]

I find this quote strange: "The data are flat as in a sheet of paper, in contrast to more complex models such as a relational database." If I was to make a simple DB I'd just use more than one file to create some relations. Or is it imperative that a flat-file is just one file?

I ask because I have no idea of how it works, but it seems to be a simple walk-around.

File1

id    name    team
1     Amy     Blues
2     Bob     Reds
3     Chuck   Blues
4     Dick    Blues
5     Ethel   Reds
6     Fred    Blues
7     Gilly   Blues
8     Hank    Reds

File2

team   arena
Blues  le Grand Bleu
Reds   Super Smirnoff Stadium

Query Suppose I want to date Amy - what arena do I go to.

team = "SELECT team FROM File1 WHERE name='Amy';"
arena = "SELECT arena FROM File2 WHERE team=" + team + ";"

Of course I'd have to build a wrapper between SQL and the flat-files but that should be quite easy.

PER9000 07:06, 4 August 2006 (UTC)


I also oppose this formulation: "A flat file database is described by a very simple database model, where all the information is stored in text files." - You can model an arbitrarily complex databases as flat-file databases. The thing that is simple about it is that it uses files with raw text instead of a some complex format. I or someone else should make this article more neutral and perhaps incorporate the small example I just made. Perhaps someone with a deeper insight in why it is more inefficient to store a db as flat-files (pointers, harddisks, that kind of stuff) should write a little about this. PER9000 07:26, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
Yet another insight on my part: In database they talk about a Flat model and not a Flat file database. To me this is/was/should be (I don't know any more) two separate things. That may explain my frustration. Also it is not clear to be that we must have only one table but many files (perhaps a metafor to a phonebook - one table, many pages?) PER9000 07:35, 4 August 2006 (UTC)
Right the original article is with relation to the "flat" database model. I add a section where "flat files" are used as data stores of a relational database, using the above example. --ANONYMOUS COWARD0xC0DE 07:04, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

I agree. The preceeding comments indicate some room for clarification in the article content. I will modify the introductory paragraph for clarity, possibly other items as well. dr.ef.tymac 23:55, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

Merge Flat file[edit]

Recommend merging the article Flat file with this one. What do you think? Thanks. SqlPac 04:26, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

Flat File Database is a collection of flat files. A Flat File may or may not be (part of) a database. The "Flat File Database" article should remain separate from the "Flat File" article because people looking for information about flat files may or may not want all the information about databases --- But I do believe the articles should reference/link to one another. My considered opinion. Please be kind, this is my first submission into Wikipedia.org. (previously posted Marion 18:26, 15 August 2007 (UTC)Eisforeverything on another discussion by mistake) Marion 18:37, 21 August 2007 (UTC)Eisforeverything (aka Marion)

I think they should be merged, for a rationale see Talk:Flat file. Adrianwn (talk) 17:13, 13 August 2008 (UTC)

Flat File and Flat File Database Topics should be kept separate[edit]

Flat File Database is a collection of flat files. A Flat File may or may not be (part of) a database.

The "Flat File Database" article should remain separate from the "Flat File" article because people looking for information about flat files may or may not want all the information about databases --- But I do believe the articles should reference/link to one another.

My considered opinion. Please be kind, this is my first submission into Wikipedia.org.

Marion 18:26, 15 August 2007 (UTC)Eisforeverything

I'd like to delete this I created it as a new discussion by mistake Marion 18:39, 21 August 2007 (UTC)

I think the article "flat file" and "flat file database" should be kept as two separate articles. Stolkin 19:01, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

Graphic Comment[edit]

I'm not sure that the blurb under the first graphic on the page actually makes any sense - it gives "one of several typical uses for a flat file database" as being convertible to a fully-fledged relational database.

Firstly, this doesn't really make sense as a use in of itself. Moreover, "converting to" might be less representative of real usage than "converting into a format importable into" (or whatever)?

Rswarbrick (talk) 20:33, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

The last part is now gone, reasonable way to address the issues here; it would seem. dr.ef.tymac (talk) 03:20, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

Coinage[edit]

I would like to discuss adding two paragraphs on the origination of the term "flat file". The term flat file was coined in 1971 on the campus of Modesto Junior College by the founder of the computer club. At that time data sets were described in the same way that they were stored in a computer on magnetic rings, i.e. two dimensional array or three dimensional array. The coiner decided that a shorter term with fewer syllables may get accepted as a substitute. The term flat file was decided upon because it had a physical image and because comic research found that people enjoy hearing and saying words with “f” sounds and “p’ sounds (think of all the four letter words that start with either of these two letters). The new term was disseminated using the phrase” … flat file, you know, a two dimensional array.” A transfer to UC Berkeley along with membership to the campus computer club spread the term on that campus during 1971 – 1975. Later a position with the Fireman’s Insurance Company, which trained a high percentage of the SF Bay Area COBOL programmers, helped spread the term throughout the local region. Please feel free to edit/change/correct as necessary.David E. Mould (talk) 15:16, 21 October 2010 (UTC)

Do you have any kind of reliable sources for your claims? Please see WP:V and [WP:OR]] for further information. – Adrian Willenbücher (talk) 21:36, 25 October 2010 (UTC)

I don't have a reliable source for my claims. I don't know how to document something like this. does anybody have advice / experience they can provide? David E. Mould (talk) 16:51, 9 November 2010 (UTC)

Does anyone object to me adding the above paragraph as an opinion?David E. Mould (talk) 21:02, 16 March 2011 (UTC)

Everything in the article should be supportable by a reliable source, so if all you have is opinion or first-hand experience, then it shouldn't be included. As Adrian Willenbücher pointed you to above, you should read WP:Verifiability and WP:No original research for explanations of why we have those requirements. VernoWhitney (talk) 21:24, 16 March 2011 (UTC)

I suggest that origin of the phrase "flat file" might be particularly difficult to adequately document. I further suggest that it may very well have arisen independently in multiple locations. For example, when IBM introduced VSAM in 1970 (or early '70s) the term flat file rapidly came in to daily use in IBM mainframe shops to describe a non-VSAM file. Meaning a non-indexed, or non-keyed, file. Or, as the article states, a file in which "There are no structural relationships between the records". (personal experience). Perhaps a statement in the article to this effect might be more accurate. Merligren (talk) 20:53, 22 April 2011 (UTC)