A relational database is, not surprisingly, comprised of entities that have relationships with one another. There's a great LinkedIn Learning course that covers these relationships in detail.

One-to-many relationships from Programming Foundations: Databases by Scott Simpson

And Airtable has a great intro to relationships on its site. So on this page we'll do our best to "summarize with a purpose," emphasizing the roles these relationships may play in our world at the Bok Center.

One-to-one relationships are often handled in Airtable by using a single table. Each PERSON has one ID number, for instance. But sometimes things that are apparently one-to-one may actually be best handled

Since one-to-one relationships are things we’re used to from Excel and Google sheets, it might make sense to think more about the one-to-many and many-to-many relationships first as a way in to the puzzles of Bok base design. In Airtable, one-to-one relationships are usually defined within a single table (i.e. this PERSON has one name, one date of birth, one Harvard ID number, etc.), but one-to-many relationships are handled with a linked-record column (this PERSON is enrolled in these 5 classes, all stored in a CLASSES table). One could argue that one-to-many and many-to-many relationships are at the main reason you’d use a database (rather than a spreadsheet) in the first place, so it’s a reasonable place to start.

links back to the other steps in this series:

  1. intro
  2. relationships between ones and manys
  3. queries & Airtable views & filters
  4. normalization
  5. basic use cases
  6. proposals