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Best way of setting up a hierarchial tree type relationship


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My database concerns patent applications.  Some applications can be related to other applications in a way that is quite similar to a family tree.  In particular, any two different applications can be directly related to one another in a hierarchical relationship, where one is higher ("primary") and the other is lower ("secondary").  The type of relationship can also different, there are at least three or four different kinds.


I currently have a table of patent applications.  To add in this type of relationship, I was thinking of constructing another table, call it relationships.  Each relationship record would specify a primary patent application, a secondary patent application, and the type of relationship between the two. 


Is this a reasonable approach?  Is there a better or different one?


I'm thinking that if a user requests to see a complete tree of relationships in which a current application is present, I could then write a script that would see which other applications have direct relationships to the current application -- quite easily done by looking for related relationship records to the current application -- and then repeat this process essentially recursively to get the entire tree. 


I realize that how this information would be conveyed to the user is an entirely different issue, and from my initial investigation there appears to be no easy way to graphically display trees in FM, so my initial feeling right now is that I would export all the info into a text file, and pass it off to a third party tool that could then display a static tree (which would be more than sufficient for our purposes).

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