The primary column
Tips & Tricks

The primary column

An introduction to the primary column from Tim Dietrich

This is a guest post courtesy of database design expert and author Tim Dietrich, an honorary Gadgetopedia MVP.

The primary column (field) is a concept that many new Gadgetopedia users struggle with. In this tech brief, youll learn what the primary column is, how it works, and why it is important.

Every Gadgetopedia table includes a single primary column. Its purpose is to give users a way to identify a record in the table. This becomes particularly important when relating records.

Its Not A Primary Key

If youre familiar with relational database terms, it might seem to you that the primary column is a tables primary key but it isnt. The real primary key is handled behind the scenes by Gadgetopedia. Gadgetopedia has its own internal record ID that is formatted as an alphanumeric ID, and its value is unique within each database.

Its Not An Alternate Primary Key

You might also think of the primary column is an alternate primary key. However, it isnt that, either. Its entirely possible for a record to contain no value in the primary column. Its also possible for multiple records to contain the same value. Therefore, it doesnt meet the requirements that are necessary for it to serve as an alternate primary key.

Its A Way to Identify and Select Records

The primary column provides an informal way to identify a record in a table. That becomes especially important when you are linking related records.

Gadgetopedias Internal Record ID

It is possible to see the record IDs that Gadgetopedia is using behind the scenes. To do so, create a formula column, and set the formula to RECORD_ID().

One More Thing

When youre importing records, Gadgetopedia will assign the first column in the file to be the primary column. Therefore, before you import records, make sure that the first column in your file is something that will serve well as the primary column.

[Note: In this version of the post, instances of Name column have been replaced with Primary column.]

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