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I'm working on a small project and I'm have arrived to the point where I let a user chose in which currency to display items.

I'm working with Java and my first thought was that I would use some kind of API to pull the rates and post process (loop) after I get the the items from the DB. But I'd rather not have to unnecessarily loop if I can directly get the right price form the query.

So I think I'm going to store all the exchanges rate in the DB and have my query do the conversation job here is my first draft:

 CREATE TABLE currency (
      code VARCHAR(3) NOT NULL,
      symbol VARCHAR(3) NOT NULL,
      display_name VARCHAR(4) NOT NULL,
      PRIMARY KEY (code),
      UNIQUE KEY uq_ccode (code)
    );

CREATE TABLE exchange_rate (
  currency_code_from VARCHAR(3) NOT NULL,
  currency_code_to VARCHAR(3) NOT NULL,
  rate numeric(15,4) NOT NULL,
  created timestamp NOT NULL DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP,
  updated timestamp NOT NULL DEFAULT CURRENT_TIMESTAMP,
  PRIMARY KEY (currency_code_from, currency_code_to),
  FOREIGN KEY (currency_code_from) REFERENCES currency(code) ON DELETE CASCADE,
  FOREIGN KEY (currency_code_to) REFERENCES currency(code) ON DELETE CASCADE
);

I would then write a query like:

select price as originalPrice, (price * rate) as TargetPrice FROM .....
JOIN exchange_rate er ON er.currency_code_from=(the currency of the item) AND er.currency_code_to=(the user currency)......

Note that on the above tables I would have to have every single combination

GBPEUR
EURGBP
GBPGBP (well i guess i can probably avoid this one if a slighty amend the query to detect this scenario)

Plus.. I would have to have some kind of cron job to daily update this table.

Now I'm far to be a banker nor a SQL genius so I would like some input from people that have already written such tables/query and that have expertise in this kind of stuff

Am I fare off with my design? Would I be better off post processing the results and do the conversation in java with rates coming from an API?

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    From my experience (this being something I use daily), your design is fine. There's nothing wrong with storing a combination for every single currency. We have 17.5k combinations, updated daily and, as long as you index properly, it's the better way to go. – Mark Sinkinson Dec 31 '15 at 12:27
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How are your underlying item prices stored?

If, for example, your items are all priced/stored in EUR, then there is no need for an NxN (duplicative) currency matrix.

In this case, exchange_rate (against EUR or your base currency) can simply be a field in the currency table (vs an independent table).

Then all of your conversions for display (which are all then simply EUR->XXX) can be calculated with a single JOIN.

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  • I unfortunately cannot do this (which would he been the way to go if there was a base currency). Basically every item can be in any currency. (Think as AirBnB. depending on your country where you list your room the currency is different, and as a visitor, you can chose in which currency you want the room to be displayed in) – Alexis Dec 30 '15 at 22:48
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    This is the only way to prevent the combinatorial explosion. If you don't have a base currency, pick one. Then for whichever price you need to display, there is always one join. – Jonny Dec 30 '15 at 23:47
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    Let's say a pick EUR as base currency. Does that mean that when I store an item I will have to convert it to EUR first (from whatever currency the seller decided to put its price in) ? By doing this I would have to frequently update the items price instead no ? (if today a seller put a 100GBP (135.92EUR) for a 1.36 rate, and tomorrow the rate changes to 1.40 the price if the DB (135.98) is now wrong – Alexis Dec 31 '15 at 11:42
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    It sounds like the best practice is to store the price in the seller's currency, and convert source->base->target at the point you need to display to/transact with buyer. Guess that derails the single join idea... Read more: yacoset.com/how-to-handle-currency-conversions – Peter Dixon-Moses Dec 31 '15 at 13:08
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    Best performance using the DB alone sounds like the NxN conversion table, though on the app side you might realize some caching benefits by normalizing everything to a base currency in your query, caching, and then post-processing to target currency. – Peter Dixon-Moses Dec 31 '15 at 13:16

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