Reasons for database de-normalization

Consider this case, your site is an e-commerce site and your customer has placed and confirm an order. You don’t need to normalize this table because the data for this table should not be changed (edit or delete). This design provides two advantages:

  • Data Integrity (Security). Changes of data in other tables will not affect the master table.
  • Performance. When you join with many tables, performance will be affected.
  • Other examples when to denormalize: financial transaction, audit log and statistic.


  • One Resource Table

    One Resource Table
    Using one resource table method is similar to many lookup tables. The difference is this one resource table actually combines all lookup tables by adding just one more field. Of course, this one resource table will be much larger because it combines all lookup tables.

    Using back the same lookup tables at previous blog, let’s create one resource table to replace all lookup tables.

    Type Code Desc
    State JH Johor
    State KH Kedah
    State KT Kelantan
    State MK Melaka
    State NS Negeri Sembilan
    State PH Pahang
    State PG Pulau Pinang
    State PK Perak
    State PS Perlis
    State SB Sabah
    State SW Sarawak
    State SL Selangor
    State TG Terengganu
    State KL W.P. Kuala Lumpur
    State LB W.P. Labuan
    State PJ W.P. Putrajaya
    Country CN China
    Country HK Hong Kong
    Country IN India
    Country MY Malaysia
    Country SG Singapore

    That’s it. Use both type and code field to make the primary/unique key.

    Hardcoded Values vs Lookup Tables

    Hardcoded Values
    You have a form, say, a registration form. In this form, you have these common fields, example Name, Age, Address, State, Country and etc. So, in your database design, how do you go about it? Create just one table to store all these fields? Something like below?

    ID Name Age Address State Present_Country Country_Born
    1 Steve 23 12-C-5 Wilayah Persekutuan Malaysia Singapore
    2 Ngai 21 11-B-5 Selangor Malaysia Malaysia
    3 Chee Weng 24 12-A-1 Pahang Malaysia Hong Kong

    Now, consider these few questions:

  • In your add registration form, how do you populate those values to State, Present Country and Country Born? Because you just have one table, you have no choice but to hardcode those values.
  • What about edit registration form and view registration form page? How do you populate the values to State, Present Country and Country Born?
  • What happen when tomorrow government declare that Wilayah Persekutuan’s name has changed to KL Persekutuan?
  • To solve the above problems, you need to use an UPDATE query to change all records which has the value Wilayah Persekutuan to KL Persekutuan. Then you need to go to add registration form page to change the hardcoded value, as well as edit registration form and view registration form code. Maintenance nightmare!

    Lookup tables
    Let’s improve the design by having some lookup tables (the word “lookup” is my own term). First, we identify which fields we should have a lookup tables. I pick State, Present Country and Country Born. So, I need to create two lookup tables. Two because Present Country and Country Born can share the same table. Let’s have a simple design for these lookup tables.

    Both fields can just be varchar and below are some sample data

    State_Code State_Desc
    JH Johor
    KH Kedah
    KT Kelantan
    MK Melaka
    NS Negeri Sembilan
    PH Pahang
    PG Pulau Pinang
    PK Perak
    PS Perlis
    SB Sabah
    SW Sarawak
    SL Selangor
    TG Terengganu
    KL W.P. Kuala Lumpur
    LB W.P. Labuan
    PJ W.P. Putrajaya

    Country_Code Country_Desc
    CN China
    HK Hong Kong
    IN India
    MY Malaysia
    SG Singapore

    (View a complete country code)

    Right now, you can go back to your add registration form code, and you can use these look up tables to populate instead of using hardcoded values. You can use the State_Code and Country_Code as the value to store in user table, which becomes below,

    ID Name Age Address State Present_Country Country_Born
    1 Steve 23 12-C-5 KL MY SG
    2 Ngai 21 11-B-5 SL MY MY
    3 Chee Weng 24 12-A-1 PH MY HK

    You can also use these lookup tables to populate values for edit and view page.

    What happen when you realize that you are going to have a lot of lookup tables? Then, you can consider using just one resource table.