Data-Type for User-Roles?

I have been persuaded to create a more generic table called “User” and add a column called “RoleType” to distinguish between ‘Admins’, ‘Visitors’, ‘Customers’, etc.

My question is, “What Data-Type should I use?”

I tend to prefer verbose data-types because looking at a column with integers in it tells someone else looking at an isolated table NOTHING!!

By contract, seeing ‘Admins’, ‘Visitors’, ‘Customers’, etc. in a column is pretty self-documenting when the column is called “RoleType”.

The only down-side is that it is more of a pain programmatically to have to look for a string versus an integer value.

What do you think?


Yah, I think we had that conversation earlier. (Or I did with someone?!) :slight_smile:


I agree, but back in my MS Access days you’d be labeled a heretic for saying that! (Way too much over-normalization and using too many id’s and codes in that world?!)



and whatever you do, don’t let whoever this was try to get you to use ENUM


It would be more of a pain using numbers since then you’d need to be constantly looking up what a particular number means.

If you do use numbers then the simplest solution is to add a lookup table that converts them to the appropriate descriptions so that you can substitute those for the numbers.

Glad you agree with me on wanting to use something self-identitfying!!


i don’t buy that argument at all, sorry

there is no “more of a pain” writing

WHERE roletype = 'Admin'

as compared with

WHERE roletype = 3

go ahead and use a VARCHAR instead of an integer