Reference data is like the set of standard options on a multiple-choice test. It's a type of data that defines the permissible values you can have for a particular field. Let's break it down with some simple comparisons:
Pre-Defined Choices: Imagine you're at a ice cream shop that only serves vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry flavors. These three flavors are your "reference data" because they're the predefined choices you have.
Standard Categories: It's like having set categories to sort things into. For example, in a clothing store, the types of clothing (shirts, pants, jackets, etc.) would be considered reference data.
Consistency: Reference data helps keep things consistent. Like in a school, having defined grade levels (like freshman, sophomore, junior, senior) helps everyone know what the standard levels are.
Common Understanding: It's like having a common language or terms that everyone agrees on, which helps people understand each other. For instance, sizes like small, medium, and large are types of reference data that everyone understands.
Guidelines: Reference data acts as a guideline for what values can be used, like a set list of options on a dropdown menu on a website.
Structured Choices: It's about having structured, defined choices in a system, like having set meal options in a restaurant menu.
Lookup Table: Imagine you have a map that shows you the official names of different colors. This map serves as a reference to look up color names, much like how reference data works in databases.
In essence, reference data is about having a set of standard, predefined values or categories that help keep data organized, consistent, and easy to manage, just like having standard options or categories helps keep things orderly and easy to understand in everyday situations.