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Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024

Object Database Conceptual Design

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Prerita Agarwal
Data Specialist @
23 Jul, 2024 @ 01:30 PM


Hello Ninjas! As you know, the Database is one of the most critical components of any application we build. And there are many ways to design the database based on the needs of a particular application. It can either be a relational database or an object-oriented database.

Object Database Conceptual Design

In this article, we will learn about the conceptual design of the object database and the differences between the Object Database and a relational database. So without any delays, let's dive deep into the topic. 

Database Models

Databases are a collection of data that can easily be created, updated, accessed, and managed. Records or the data kept in the databases are maintained in tables or objects depending upon the design of the database

Many types of database models serve different purposes and have unique features and traits. Some of the most popular models are-

Network  Model

The network model builds upon the hierarchical structure concept but modifies it. Unlike the strict parent-child relationships of the hierarchical model, the network model allows a child record to have multiple parent records. It is based on a graph structure, facilitating more complex relationships between data entities.

Relational Model

The relational model stores and manages data in a tabular format. Tables consist of rows (records) and columns (fields), providing a structured data storage and management approach. Relational databases excel at handling structured data, while NoSQL databases typically manage unstructured data. In a relational database, each table has a unique field known as the primary key, which uniquely identifies each tuple (row). Relationships between different tables are established through these primary keys.

Object Model

In the object model of the database, data is represented and stored as objects, similar to objects used in programming languages. This model allows the application of object-oriented principles such as encapsulation, inheritance, and polymorphism to the database design. It offers a way to manage data with complex relationships and behavior by combining data and behavior into a single unit.

Document Model

The document model, often associated with NoSQL databases, is designed to store unstructured data. Instead of using tables, data is stored in documents, typically in formats like JSON or XML. The document model provides flexibility and scalability for managing unstructured or semi-structured data, and query operations are efficient in this model.

We will discuss more on Object Database Conceptual Design later in this article.

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Object Database Design

The object database conceptual design is based on the usage of objects in computer programs to represent real-world entities and data. The object-oriented modeling of the database is very much flexible and dynamic compared to the relational database model. In this model, the relationships between different objects, which can be very complex, are modeled very easily. It also allows the usage of object-oriented based concepts such as inheritance, encapsulation, and polymorphism. The codes can be maintained and modified easily in databases based on the object-oriented based model.

Object Database

An object database is a database based on the object model. It stores the data in the form of objects. The object comprises data and the functions used to access and manipulate the data. The object-oriented database work with object-oriented programming languages such as Java and Python.

Advantages of ODBMS

The ODBMS, or the Object Database Management System, has the following advantages-

  • Working with OOPS-based programming languages: Since the object model is based on objects and supports OOPS principles, it works well with OOPS-based programming languages such as C++ or Python.


  • Support for Object-Oriented Programming Principles: Object databases work well with object-oriented programming concepts, and it is very easy to work with objects and use OOPS concepts like encapsulation, polymorphism, and inheritance. 
  • Data Model Flexibility: Object databases offer schema flexibility, allowing dynamic updates to the data model without altering the entire database structure. This is useful in the case where the data model changes frequently.


  • Improved Performance: Object databases can efficiently manage complex relationships between objects, leading to faster data retrieval and traversal. Object-oriented query languages, like OQL (Object Query Language), provide powerful capabilities for querying and navigating object graphs, resulting in optimized performance for object-oriented data access patterns.

Disadvantages of ODBMS

The ODBMS or the Object Database Management System has the following disadvantages-


  • Limited adoption: Object databases are less popular when compared to relational databases. This causes fewer available tools, community support, and expertise for the object model.
  • Complexity:  Designing and implementing an efficient object model can be complex and time-consuming. Object databases often require a deep understanding of object-oriented concepts and programming languages.
  • Integration challenges: Integrating an object database with existing systems or applications can be challenging. This happens because the database needs to interact with other data sources that use different database models or technologies.

Difference between Object Database and Relational Database

Object Database Relational Database
Properties or reference attributes that include Object Ids of the objects are used to handle the object's relationships. Attributes with matching values specify relationships among the tuples (records).
Relationships among the object are represented using single references and collections of references. Relationships are single-valued since multivalued attributes are not allowed in the relational model.
Inheritance constructs such as derived (:) and extends are used to handle inheritance. No inheritance construct is available in a relational model.
Ad-hoc queries can be handled by an object-oriented database. Ad-hoc queries are not encouraged in a relational database.
Mapping binary relationships with attributes can be difficult, and using a separate class to represent the relationship itself can be more advantageous. A: B relationships must be represented as separate relations (table).
The object model defines a set of valid behaviors or operations. The relational model does not require database designers to predefine a specific set of valid behaviors or operations.

Mapping an EER Schema to an ODB Schema

A schema is used to define the structure of the database and how the tables and data models are related to each other. It defines the framework for storing and managing data.

Mapping an EER schema to an Object Database schema is designing the type declarations of object classes for an Object Database Management System (ODBMS) from an Entity-Relationship (ER) diagram. 

This mapping is performed in the following steps:

  • Step-1: Create an ODL class for each EER entity type or subclass. The ODL class should include all the attributes of the EER class. Multivalued details are typically declared using set, bag, or list constructors. Declare an extent for each class and specify any critical attributes as keys of the extent.
  • Step-2: Add relationship properties or reference attributes for each binary relationship into the ODL classes participating in the relationship. Depending on the cardinality ratio of the binary relationship, the relationship properties or reference attributes may be single-valued or collection types.
  • Step-3: Include appropriate operations for each class. These are not available from the EER schema and must be added to the database design by referring to the original requirements.


  • Step-4: An ODL class corresponding to a subclass in the EER schema inherits the type and methods of its superclass in the ODL schema. Its specific (non-inherited) attributes, relationship references, and operations are specified.
  • Step-5: Weak entity types can be mapped in the same way as regular entity types. An alternative mapping is possible for weak entity types that do not participate in any relationships except their identifying relationship.


  • Step-6: Categories (union types) in an EER schema are difficult to map to ODL. One way is to create a class to represent the category and define 1:1 relationships between the category and each of its superclasses.
  • Step-7: An n-ary relationship with degree n > 2 can be mapped into a separate class, with appropriate references to each participating class. An M: N binary relationship may also use this mapping option.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different database models?

Many different database models are available to us. Some of the database models that are available to us are the Relational Model, Object-Oriented Model, Network model, Document Model, and Hierarchical Model. 

How are Object and Document Database Models different?

The Object Database Model stores data as objects and follows object-oriented principles like encapsulation and inheritance. Whereas, the Document Database Model stores data as documents in JSON or XML format. The Document database offers flexibility and scalability for managing data.

What are the different challenges faced in Object Databases? 

Object Databases can sometimes be complex, and a huge amount of time is required to create an efficient object model. The integration of the object model with the system is also very challenging. The performance also decreases if the relationship between objects is complex.


Congrats, Ninja!! You've learned what a database is and what are different database models. You have also learned about the object database conceptual design and how it differs from the relational database design. You also learned about the Object Database's features, advantages, and disadvantages.

We have also added FAQs related to Object Database Conceptual Design.

Recommended Reading-


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Topics covered
Database Models
Network  Model
Relational Model
Object Model
Document Model
Object Database Design
Object Database
Advantages of ODBMS
Disadvantages of ODBMS
Difference between Object Database and Relational Database
Mapping an EER Schema to an ODB Schema
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the different database models?
How are Object and Document Database Models different?
What are the different challenges faced in Object Databases?