I am new to this forum (although by far not new to DB design and development), but it seemed to me the most suitable place to ask for your expertise and opinion.
I have designed a database (in Oracle, but it's quite irrelevant). Now I am forced to implement the following:
Suppose you have a table with some fields. One of the fields is "UOM" (the "Units Of Measurement"). The other field is numeric and is called, for example, "SomeValue".
Now, depending of the value in the UOM field, the SomeValue field will contain different types of data. For example, if the UOM = "kg", SomeValue in this record will contain 17.2 (which is the weight in kilos). If UOM = "Quantity", then this record will have SomeValue = 3 (which is the quantity in pieces). And, if UOM = "Length", SomeValue will contain 335.65 (length in millimeters).
I know that this is totally wrong. All my previous experience cries against such design. However, I cannot find good arguments to prove my point of view (which is quite simple: if necessary, create different fields for Weight, Length and Quantity and forget about "UOM").
My questions are:
1. Am I right in believing such design to be completely wrong?
2. If I am right, could you, please, give me some rock-solid arguments to use in discussion.
3. If I am wrong and this design is good and acceptable, then why?