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I am building a database that includes the following tables:

  • pages
  • users

A particular user can access (or is associated with) a page with one of the following roles (permissions):

  • Owner
  • Administrator
  • Editor

What will be the best approach in this kind of situation? Either to setup join tables like this:

  • owners (page_id, user_id)
  • administrators (page_id, user_id)
  • editors (page_id, user_id)

Or using a single join table:

  • pages_users (page_id, user_id, role)

Also, if the second approach is preferable, should role attribute be a string (such as 'owner', 'administrator', or 'editor') or something like role_id and the roles defined in a separate table as follows:

  • roles (id, name)

If there's a completely different approach which fits the need in a more appropriate manner, please let me know.

Also, is there any special name for this type of relationship(s) in database jargon? I am unable to craft the question's title right, edits are welcome.

Thank you for your answers

  • Do you have a "super" user - one who can edit/admin everything? Is a page owned by a singler 'user'? Etc. I don't yet see the full model that you want. – Rick James Aug 22 '16 at 21:24
  • There could be multiple super users. A page could be owned by multiple users (owners) as like multiple administrators and editors. – Forthaction Aug 22 '16 at 21:29
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Since the primary key (page_id, user_id) is same for all roles it would be better to put all roles in a single table, the one you named pages_users.

The question on using role_id and a separate roles table is a matter of personal preference. I would use a separate table, at least if I'm going to populate an UI component list based on the choices.

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If there will be no additions to the type of roles, go with option 1. If you expect to add other roles later, go with 2. And indeed make a FK referencing a table Roles (and my preference would be just by name, not id, saves a join). Remember that you have to build a user interface for maintaining roles in option 2, and give someone permission to use that.

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