MongoDB : Normalize Database reference (DBRefs)

The joy of a Document database is that it eliminates lots of Joins. Your first instinct should be to place as much in a single document as you can. Because MongoDB documents have structure, and because you can efficiently query within that structure there is no immediate need to normalize data like you would in SQL. In particular any data that is not useful apart from its parent document should be part of the same document.

This is not so much a “storage space” issue as it is a “data consistency” issue. If many records will refer to the same data it is more efficient and less error prone to update a single record and keep references to it in other places.

DBRef documents resemble the following document:

{ "$ref" : <value>, "$id" : <value>, "$db" : <value> }

Consider a document from a collection that stored a DBRef in a creator field:

{
  "_id" : ObjectId("5126bbf64aed4daf9e2ab771"),
  // .. application fields
  "creator" : {
                  "$ref" : "creators",
                  "$id" : ObjectId("5126bc054aed4daf9e2ab772"),
                  "$db" : "users"
               }
}

The DBRef in this example points to a document in the creators collection of the users database that has ObjectId("5126bc054aed4daf9e2ab772") in its _id field.

Consider the following operation to insert two documents, using the _id field of the first document as a reference in the second document:

original_id = ObjectId()

db.places.insert({
    "_id": original_id,
    "name": "Broadway Center",
    "url": "bc.example.net"
})

db.people.insert({
    "name": "Erin",
    "places_id": original_id,
    "url":  "bc.example.net/Erin"
})

Then, when a query returns the document from the people collection you can, if needed, make a second query for the document referenced by the places_id field in the places collection.

Reference link for details : https://docs.mongodb.com/manual/reference/database-references/

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