I'm quite new to the GIS world and I currently have some technical questions for which I have no answers yet.

I'd like to know the good way to store the attributes for a feature using the PostgreSQL database and its PostGIS extension. For example, a point can be a house located in a street with a name and a number.

I know that applications like MapServer or GeoServer are exactly about doing this, but I'm looking for a simpler solution.

Ideally I'd like to have everything in my database where for each feature I can list the associated attributes. But I would also like to know from a specific attribute, the list of features matching.

Is there any standard/best practice out there to store GIS attributes within a SQL database?

Plus, what about the attributes name themselves? Is there any list of standard attributes that can be associated to a feature. I don't want to re-invent the wheel so where to find the common used terms to define a feature (street, country, zip code, ...)?

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    Welcome to GIS@SE. Your question is quite broad! To get an answer and meet the guidelines of SE should add some specifics about the database engine, versions, some samples of the data and anything you have already tried or researched. – Mark Cupitt Sep 6 '14 at 0:08
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    The general convention is to consider a "feature" to include a geometry and its attributes. "Metadata" generally refers to how the data was collected. You probably want to rewrite this question to ask about "standard attributes" though that is also extremely broad and very subjective. – Vince Sep 6 '14 at 0:54
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    @MarkC although I'll be using PostgreSQL + PostGIS, this can be applied on any SQL database. That's why I didn't talked about any DBMS. And my question is general because indeed, I'd like to know the general way of storing feature attributes. – Spack Sep 6 '14 at 4:35
  • Rather than ask general questions about something that you have not tried yet, I recommend that you first start to work through a PostGIS introductory tutorial like bostongis.com/?content_name=postgis_tut01#304 (please excuse its title). – PolyGeo Sep 6 '14 at 9:46
  • @PolyGeo, the question is not about how to use PostGIS but more about how someone would store the attributes around a feature within a SQL database. And also if there is a standard list of terms to describe a feature. – Spack Sep 6 '14 at 16:13

What attributes you have and how you name them should depend mostly on

  • the application domain or themes within your GIS
  • the detailed requirements of your application
  • your own organization's conventions for normalising database tables
  • your own organization's conventions for naming database attributes

If it is a topographic database, study the attributes that your national mapping agency uses for its topographic data.

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