I have questions that blogged my mind on separating member number and member id.

Suppose that we have a database with member id primary key of Guid type. Then, normally, when we view the profile (on web page), we will display a Profile/100001 instead of Profile/{Guid-id}. So, in this case, we would have another column for member number which is separated from member id.

Now, assume that we have a case where Member ID is int datatype, and the running number of Member No is incremented 1 each time start from 100001, should we separate the member ID (primary key) from member number in this case?

This question is focus on web application database design. Because I got to "know" that exposing primary key to user is not a good practice. So, does that means that we should have an internal ID(primary key) that is used for database and another column with running number that is display to user?

  • You can calculate a MD5 hash of a string <ID> + 'salt' and use it in the web interface.
    – BuahahaXD
    Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 19:09

2 Answers 2


Your Primary Key is a unique key and should be sufficient to find the records that you need. However, if you need a sequential number for other identifying reasons, then YES you should make it a separate unique value.

I personally would skip the GUID key and just use the Integer, but that is a choice you will need to make.

Getting a sequential set of keys without gaps will require some code. Are you using Microsoft SQL Server or some other version. If MS SQL Server, look at:


This is a discussion of using Sequence Numbers, with some warnings about the limitations.


Usage of primary key for database alone is a best practice. Member number will refer only the particular table entry but primary key is used to interlink tables using joint queries by having same primary key in different tables.

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