Home > Articles

  • Print
  • + Share This
Like this article? We recommend Domino Databases

Domino Databases

One of the most distinct things about Domino as a development platform is the database structure, or rather the lack of one. Domino databases are not relational and do not have a fixed data structure.

I've referred to Domino databases as data blobs. Domino databases seem to be something akin to a linked list of records comprised of a linked list of fields. In Domino terminology, records are called "documents" and fields are called "items."

Fields can be any of four data types: Rich Text, numeric, text, date-time, and names fields.

A Rich Text field is itself a data blob, like a combination CLOB and BLOB (Character and Binary Large OBject) field in Oracle databases. You can attach files, embed Microsoft Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) objects or images, store formatted text (text with formatting information such as fonts, colors, and paragraph spacing), or even store web page content (HTML, CSS, and JavaScript).

A Rich Text field can also contain hyperlinks to other Notes documents or web URLs and "hot spots" such as buttons with code embedded in them. You can also insert tables into Rich Text fields that let you format the layout of any of the rich content. Although the limit for a single rich text field is 1GB worth of information, I don't advise putting that much data into a single record for reasons that I'll explain later.

Text fields hold text (duh!). Unlike other database platforms, you don't have to specify a size limit to the text field. All text strings in Domino applications are stored as Unicode text. Any text field can hold 32k Unicode characters.

Date-time fields store time information including time zone information. A date-time field can store a date value, a time value, or both date and time information. As an example, on a form for a recurring meeting, one date-time field can be added to the form to store the time of day when the meeting starts. Another date-time field on the same form can be used to store the first date of the recurring event, and yet another date-time field can be used to store the date and time when the recurring meeting record was created. The same date-time field type can be used to define fields that store time, date or date and time information.

Domino is very intelligent in how it stores and displays time information. No time conversion is required to display time within the proper time zone. Because Domino was designed to support replication, date-time values are very important, as is figuring out the real difference between two different time values adjusted to a common time zone.

When Domino servers communicate with each other or with Notes clients, they know exactly the difference between their respective clocks. Domino adjusts time/date comparisons to take the time differences into account. When time values are displayed in Domino applications, these same automatic adjustments are used to display them.

For example, if you are in California and you receive a meeting invitation created by someone in your New York office, the meeting time would automatically be displayed at the correct time on your Notes Client. Your Notes Client knows its own time zone and that the meeting was set for a time in a different time zone and makes the adjustments automatically.

Names fields are used to store identities such as user names, server names, domain names, and user roles. A "reader" field is a names field that can be used to restrict who can read a record. An "author" field is a names field that is used to restrict who can modify a record. There can be multiple reader and author fields, all of which will be used to restrict read and edit access of the record.

Because Domino names fields can be set to be "computed" (their value is automatically reevaluated each time the record is modified), a formula can be used to provide conditional and dynamic access to records.

Computed names fields make it easy to design workflow applications, in which one user or group has access to the record when it is at a certain stage in the workflow, and a different set of users or groups have access to the record at a different stage in the workflow.

Restricting read and edit access at the record level is a second level of access rights in Domino databases. The first level is access restriction to the entire database.

If you can't access the database (via access granted in the ACL), having read or edit access to a record won't do you any good. Likewise, having access to a database at the ACL level won't do you any good if all the records in a particular database are restricted so that your user account does not have access to them.

The amorphous structure of Domino data means that you don't have to create a separate table for every different type of record you want to define. A single Domino database can contain records with many different structures.

For example, the standard Mail database can contain Memo records (email messages) and Calendar records, even though they have a different structure from each other.

In a relational database, you'd need a separate table for each kind of record. In Domino, there is a limit to how many different kinds of records you can have in a single database, but it has to do with how many different field names there are.

Being able to mix records means that an entire application with multiple record types could be accommodated in a single Domino database file. This is great for portability of your application because you can distribute a single file with several different kinds of records.

But mixing all your different record types into a single database isn't necessarily the best design for all applications.

The drawback to this data flexibility is that you can't compare the performance of a Domino database to an Oracle database, for example. An Oracle database can be tweaked to run circles around a Domino application because storage and memory structures for flexible record structures (Domino) cannot be optimized to the same degree as fixed record structures (Oracle).

But do you really need the same level of database performance for all your applications? Domino's benefit is that it is optimized for collaboration, ease of management, ease of distribution, and flexibility. They are great benefits for a distributed workforce and for simple applications.

This is not to say that you can't create complex applications using Domino. But you most likely wouldn't consider Domino for a transaction processing or data warehousing application.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020