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A Case for EAV?

Erik Darling makes the case:

EAV styled tables can be excellent for certain data design patterns, particularly ones with a variable number of entries.

Some examples of when I recommend it are when users are allowed to specify multiple things, like:

I’m not sure I agree on the examples. When there are specific known things with expected shapes, I’d rather have a separate entity to model each. Even if each table is a single string, I’d still like the separation for logical modeling purposes.

That said, there are cases when EAV ends up being the best approach (unfortunately), particularly when you don’t even know the types of things a customer would wish to include. Just try to fight back hard when the inevitable request comes in to pivot all of that data.

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