OPTIONS

Model One-to-Many Relationships with Embedded Documents

Overview

Data in MongoDB has a flexible schema. Collections do not enforce document structure. Decisions that affect how you model data can affect application performance and database capacity. See Data Modeling Concepts for a full high level overview of data modeling in MongoDB.

This document describes a data model that uses embedded documents to describe relationships between connected data.

Pattern

Consider the following example that maps patron and multiple address relationships. The example illustrates the advantage of embedding over referencing if you need to view many data entities in context of another. In this one-to-many relationship between patron and address data, the patron has multiple address entities.

In the normalized data model, the address documents contain a reference to the patron document.

{
   _id: "joe",
   name: "Joe Bookreader"
}

{
   patron_id: "joe",
   street: "123 Fake Street",
   city: "Faketon",
   state: "MA",
   zip: "12345"
}

{
   patron_id: "joe",
   street: "1 Some Other Street",
   city: "Boston",
   state: "MA",
   zip: "12345"
}

If your application frequently retrieves the address data with the name information, then your application needs to issue multiple queries to resolve the references. A more optimal schema would be to embed the address data entities in the patron data, as in the following document:

{
   _id: "joe",
   name: "Joe Bookreader",
   addresses: [
                {
                  street: "123 Fake Street",
                  city: "Faketon",
                  state: "MA",
                  zip: "12345"
                },
                {
                  street: "1 Some Other Street",
                  city: "Boston",
                  state: "MA",
                  zip: "12345"
                }
              ]
 }

With the embedded data model, your application can retrieve the complete patron information with one query.