Is there a difference between these two queries? pointers vs strings

I can’t decide if I should include object ids as foreign keys or pointers. There’s not much info about that in mongo docs.

How do you think which of whese queries is more performant?

const qTable = new Parse.Query("Table");
qTable.equalTo("objectId", "some id");


const qTable = new Parse.Query("Table");
qTable.equalTo("pointer", "some pointer");

In particular I’m wondering:

  1. Do pointers consume any space? If yes, then storing just the id as a string instead would be more compact.

  2. Is accessing docs by pointers slower and more resource intensive?

Thank you

I don’t think there’s any difference, performance wise.
I always use pointers.

Pointers are great.
When you use include, Parse does the main query, gathers all the ids, and then does a second query : using containedIn, which becomes $in .
The second query retrieves all the included Parse.Objects.
It’s all done automatically.

If we want to know how that works, look at your db, and look at the Adapters/Storage/Mongo folder in the parse-server source.

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Pointers are stored by referencing another objects’ ID. If you are using a query such as qTable.equalTo("pointer", "some pointer");, the main performance impact would be making sure there is a index on _p_pointer


The pointer approach takes always more resources than the raw text approach. Not only does a pointer require en-/decoding resources, but also causes more data storage and traffic.

Consider this:

  • Field name is _p_[Class] for pointer type vs. [WhatEverYouChoose] for text type.
  • Field value is _[Class]$[ObjectId] for pointer type vs. [ObjectId] for text type.

Parse Server uses 9 character for object ID by default. For field value, the pointer encoding makes up >=25% of the value length, at the lower range if the class name is only 1 char like _c$123456789. For a class name Table the field value would be _Table$123456789 where it makes up 44% of the field value. Similar calculations for the field name, a string _p_[Class] compared to a single char field name u is >=400% longer, at the lower range if the class name is a single char.

For a small app, or only a few pointer fields, or an environment where you aren’t charged based on data traffic you may not really care. A convenience upside of using pointers is that Parse Dashboard allows you to navigate easily to the pointed-to object by just clicking on the pointer. Another upside is that you can easily fetch the pointed-to object in queries using Parse.Query.include.

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