Resources are the main building block of Zotonic’s data model. For simplicity of communication, a resource is often referred to as a page. Every resource usually has its own page on the web site.
Resources are very flexible data units: they can have any property that the developer needs them to have. However, by default, Zotonic’s admin is designed to edit a common set of properties.
The following properties are common to all resources:
Besides this list, one can add any other properties to a resource, as they are stored in a serialized fashion.
Each resource on a site is stored in the rsc table. Some properties are present as columns and other properties are serialized in a binary blob column. The properties having their own column are essential for the system to select the wanted records or to check uniqueness constraints or foreign key constraints.
Examples of properties represented as columns are the id, visibility, category id, modification date, creation date, modifier id, creator id, version number, unique name, unique path, unique uri and publication period. For a full listing of its properties, see the m_rsc page.
Custom resource properties can also be defined: any property that is programmatically set on the resource, is stored in serialized form in the record, and can later be retrieved.
Every resource belongs to a single category.
There is no real distinction between rsc records that are a person, a news item, a video or something else. The only difference is the category of the rsc record, which can easily be changed. Even categories and predicates themselves are represented as rsc records and can, subsequently, have their own page on the web site.
Categories are organized in a hierarchical fashion, and used to organize the resources into meaningful groups. Zotonic has a standard set of categories (see The default domain model, but it is very usual to define your own in your own site, resulting in a custom domain model.
In the database, categories are stored in an extra metadata table, category, which defines the hierarchy of categories using the Nested Set model. The tree is strictly hierarchical: Every category has at most a single parent category, and every resource belongs to exactly one category. That a resource can’t belong to more than a single category is done to maintain the datamodel’s simplicity and speed of the searches in the system.
Since in Zotonic, everything is a resource, categories themselves are also resources, namely, resources of the category category. This allows the category to be titled and described, just like other resources. The category table only describes the nested hierarchy of the categories. All other properties of a category are defined by its rsc record.
Medium management is described in full in Media file handling. Media metadata is stored in a separate table, called medium, since one media is a medium. When a resource contains a medium, this table holds a record describing it. Amongst others, it stores its mime type, width, height and file size.
Besides the medium table, a medium_deleted table exists. When a medium is deleted then any files referenced by that medium will be added to this table. Zotonic periodically checks this table to delete files that are no longer referenced by any media.
Blocks are a specific feature in a resource. The blocks property of a resource is a list of blocks which can be dynamically added and removed from the resource in the admin edit page. Each module can define their own blocks, which consist of an edit template and a view template.
The survey module uses the blocks feature to allow you to dynamically create a list of questions which a user has to answer.
Most properties of a resource are stored in the resource record in a single column, called props. This column cannot be read by the database (or by humans for that matter), as it is a single, serialized Erlang term containing all the properties.
This is a very flexible approach, which allows that any property that you set on a resource can be stored and later retrieved. As such, it is fine for most properties.
The “standard” properties of the resource, like dates, the title, name and address details, are also stored in “real” database columns, thus allowing you to use SQL to filter and order on these.
Zotonic is smart enough that when you enter any textual information into any resource property, it will extract this and put it in the pivot_tsv column, for use in full-text searches.
However, if you want to search by or order on any custom defined property, you need to define your own database column in a so-called “custom pivot”;
When the version number or modification date of a resource is updated then its id is added to the pivot queue. Zotonic has a pivot process running in the background which looks at this queue and for each queued resource, extract all texts and some other information from the record, filling the pivot columns of the rsc record. The pivot columns are used for searching, they contain amongst others the full text index.
The rsc_pivot_queue table is used to hold the queue of resource ids that are waiting to be pivoted.
The pivot_task_queue holds a second queue for more generic task processing: it holds references to functions which need to be called in the background.
A rsc record can become a user by adding the user’s credentials to this table. A single user can have multiple kinds of credentials, think of his/her username, openid uri etc. A user isn’t necessarily a person.