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Institute for Digital Archaeology Method & Practice

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Discussion group for the members and faculty of the NEH Funded Institute for Digital Archaeology Method & Practice ( organized by Michigan State University’s Department of Anthropology and MATRIX: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences

Relationships in Database question

This topic contains 3 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Eric Kansa 5 years, 7 months ago.

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    Ben Carter


    I am trying to create “relationships” in a PostGIS database. Part of the problem may be that I am used to working in both MS Access and Filemaker Pro. I am trying to switch to using PostGIS, however. I can use pgadmin, but have been trying to stick to LibreOffice Base (as the open source alternative) and/or MS Access (because I know how to use that and I get it free from work).

    In the end, I am trying to link multiple tables of data (including Geospatial data). This is fairly easy in MS Access using “Relationships”. This allows columns (fields) with similar data to be linked. Then, a query can produce a table with data from both linked tables in one single all-inclusive table. The goal is to do this with PostGIS as well, but I am having a very hard time figuring it out. I can only find “JOIN” and “UNION” commands. I do see where a query can be used to create something similar, but the query would need to be redone each time I wanted a different arrangement of data. I want the “relationships” to exist outside of queries so that I don’t need to redo them for each new query.

    I can do this in QGIS as well in a limited manner, but the relationships exist in the QGIS file, not in the PostGIS file, even when the data is in the PostGIS file.

    I hope this makes sense. I have been struggling over this one for a while (and have resorted to using MS Access for some work that I would prefer to do in PostGIS).

    Please help!




    Jolene Smith

    Hi Ben,

    I have no experience with PostGIS, but in my limited (but rapidly expanding!) experience beyond good old Access, it’s usually a matter of semantics between systems.

    Maybe you can create the relationships between tables right in SQL? was really helpful to get me started.

    I’ve also got bookmarked because it looks really promising. Good luck!


    Ben Carter


    Thanks so much. I think I checked these out earlier (when you posted them on Twitter?). I looked again. They didn’t help much on the relationship aspect. I think I may have figured it out. I think that I need to use INNER, OUTER, CROSS, etc. JOINs instead of just JOIN. I was trying to use LibreOffice Base as  a GUI and there is no way (except coding in the SQL window, of course) to do this. Will check it out again.

    Thanks again.




    Eric Kansa

    I have no idea how your data are structured and what your tables are. So not knowing your schema, it’s hard to respond to this. But, there are often many, many ways to relate data using SQL. Besides JOINs there are sub-queries (see: Some of these approaches work differently on different databases, so fiddling and experimenting seems unavoidable.

    Sorry to not be very helpful! It’s super hard for me as an outsider to give more specific advice on this issue.

Viewing 4 posts - 1 through 4 (of 4 total)

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