I am working on developing a relational database that tracks transactions that occur on a device I'm working on for my company. There are different types of transactions that could occur on the device, so we have a "trans_type" field in one of our main record tables. My group has decided to make the type of this field an integer and treating it as an enumerated type. My intuition tells me that it would be a better idea to make this field a string so that our database data would be more readable and usable. My co-workers seem to be worried that this would cause more trouble than it is worth. That string comparisons are too costly and the possibility of typos is too great of a barrier.
So, in your opinion, when dealing with a field in a relational database that is essentially an enumerated value, is it a better design decision to make this field an integer or a string? Or is there some other alternative I've overlooked?
Note: explicit enumerated types are not supported by the database we are using. And the software we are developing that will interface with this database is written in C++.