CaosDB Data Model

The data structure is built from some basic building blocks which are shown in the following picture:


It has a base object called Entity. Entities are either Record Types, Records, or Abstract Properties (and Record like objects for files). What kind of data is stored is defined by the Record Types. Actual data is then stored in CaosDB as Records which are of some Record Type. Those Records can have Properties that contain information about the Record. The following is a more detailed explanation (also see this paper).

Record Types and Abstract Properties are used to define the ontology for a particular domain in which the RDMS (research data management) is used. Records are used to store the actual data and therefore represent individuals or particular things, e.g. a particular experiment, a particular time series, etc.

Record Types

Record Types define classes or types of things, e.g. persons, experiments, timeseries, etc. Records can be viewed as members of the class defined by its Record Type. These classes can contain Abstract Properties which define key-value relationships for properties of the things along with the expected data type and possibly the default unit, a default value, or a range of permitted values. As files on the backend file system are a major focus of this database management system, there is a special File entity that encapsulates typical file properties like path, size and checksum.


Entities can be related via binary, directed, transitive is-a relations which model both subtyping and instantiation, depending on the relata. These relations construct a directed graph of the Entities. If A is-a B we call A the child of B and B the parent of A. No adamant restrictions are imposed on the relate of the is-a relation and thus, Entities can be children of multiple Entities.


Each Entity has a list of Entity Properties, or in short just Properties. An Entity Property is not an Entity of its own, but a triple of an Abstract Property, a value or Null, and an Importance. The values can be numerals, strings, dates, any other valid value that fits into one of several builtin data types, or, most notably, references to other Entities. The Importance is either obligatory, recommended, suggested, or fix. A valid child of an Entity implicitly inherits its parent’s Properties according to their Importance, which means that it is obliged, recommended or only suggested to have a Property with the same Abstract Property (or any subtype thereof). As opposed to Properties with other priorities, Fixed Properties have no effect on the Entity’s children.

During the creation or update of Entities, the importances of the parents are checked by the server. Missing obligatory Properties invalidate the transaction and result in an error, by default. Missing Properties, when they are recommended, result in a warning, but the transaction is considered valid. Entities with missing suggested Properties are silently accepted as valid. See the detailed specification of RecordTypes for more information on importances and inheritance.