Procedural Language/Structured Query Language (PL/SQL) is Oracle Corporation's procedural extension language for SQL and the Oracle relational database. PL/SQL's general syntax resembles that of Ada or Pascal.
PL/SQL is one of three key programming languages embedded in the Oracle Database, along with SQL itself and Java.
Implementations from version 8 of Oracle Database onwards have included features associated with object-orientation.
Once the program units have been stored into the database, they become available for execution at a later time.
While programmers can readily embed Data Manipulation Language (DML) statements directly into their PL/SQL code using straightforward SQL statements, Data Definition Language (DDL) requires more complex "Dynamic SQL" statements to be written in the PL/SQL code. However, DML statements underpin the majority of PL/SQL code in typical software applications.
In the case of PL/SQL dynamic SQL, early versions of the Oracle Database required the use of a complicated Oracle
DBMS_SQL package library. More recent versions have however introduced a simpler "Native Dynamic SQL", along with an associated
EXECUTE IMMEDIATE syntax.
Oracle Corporation customarily extends package functionality with each successive release of the Oracle Database.
PL/SQL program units 
Anonymous blocks 
Exceptions, errors which arise during the execution of the code, have one of two types:
User-defined exceptions are always raised explicitly by the programmers, using the
RAISE_APPLICATION_ERROR commands, in any situation where they have determined that it is impossible for normal execution to continue.
RAISE command has the syntax:
RAISE <EXCEPTION name>;
Oracle Corporation has pre-defined several exceptions like
TOO_MANY_ROWS, etc. Each exception has a SQL Error Number and SQL Error Message associated with it. Programmers can access these by using the
The DECLARE section defines and (optionally) initialises variables. If not initialised specifically, they default to NULL.
DECLARE number1 NUMBER(2); number2 number1%TYPE := 17; -- value default text1 VARCHAR2(12) := 'Hello world'; text2 DATE := SYSDATE; -- current date and time BEGIN SELECT street_number INTO number1 FROM address WHERE name = 'INU'; END;
The symbol := functions as an assignment operator to store a value in a variable.
The major datatypes in PL/SQL include NUMBER, INTEGER, CHAR, VARCHAR2, DATE, TIMESTAMP, TEXT etc.
Functions in PL/SQL group together SQL and PL/SQL statements that perform a task and should return a value or values to the calling environment. User-defined functions are used to supplement the many hundreds of functions built-in by Oracle Corporation.
There are two different types of functions in PL/SQL. The traditional function has the form:
CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION <function_name> [(input/output variable declarations)] [AUTHID <CURRENT USER | DEFINER>] <IS|AS> [declaration block] BEGIN <PL/SQL block WITH RETURN statement> RETURN <return_value>; [EXCEPTION none] RETURN <return_value>; END;
Pipelined table functions return collections and take the form:
CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION <function_name> [(input/output variable declarations)] RETURN return_type [AUTHID <CURRENT USER | DEFINER>] [<AGGREGATE | PIPELINED>] <IS|USING> [declaration block] BEGIN <PL/SQL block WITH RETURN statement> PIPE ROW <RETURN type>; RETURN; [EXCEPTION EXCEPTION block] PIPE ROW <RETURN type>; RETURN; END;
There are three types of parameter: IN, OUT and IN OUT.
- An IN parameter is used as input only. An IN parameter is passed by reference though it can be changed by the inactive program.
- An OUT parameter is initially NULL. The program assigns the parameter a value and that value is returned to the calling program.
- An IN OUT parameter may or may not have an initial value. That initial value may or may not be modified by the called program. Any changes made to the parameter are returned to the calling program by default by copying but - with the NOCOPY hint - may be passed by reference.
Procedures are similar to Functions, in that they can be executed to perform work. The primary difference is that procedures cannot be used in a SQL statement. Another difference is that it can return multiple values. Procedures are traditionally the workhorse of the coding world and functions are traditionally the smaller, more specific pieces of code. PL/SQL maintains many of the distinctions between functions and procedures found in many general-purpose programming languages, but in addition, functions can be called from SQL, while procedures cannot.
Packages are groups of conceptually linked functions, procedures, variables, PL/SQL table and record TYPE statements, constants, cursors etc. The use of packages promotes re-use of code. Packages are composed of the package specification and an optional package body. The specification is the interface to the application; it declares the types, variables, constants, exceptions, cursors, and subprograms available. The body fully defines cursors and subprograms, and so implements the spec. Two advantages of packages include:
- Modular approach, encapsulation/hiding of business logic, security, performance improvement, re-usability. They support Object-oriented programming features like function overloading and encapsulation.
- Using package variables one can declare session level (scoped) variables, since variables declared in the package specification have a session scope.
Numeric variables 
variable_name NUMBER(P[,S]) := TIME;
To define a numeric variable, the programmer appends the variable type NUMBER to the name definition. To specify the (optional) precision (P) and the (optional) scale (S), one can further append these in round brackets, separated by a comma. ("Precision" in this context refers to the number of digits which the variable can hold, "scale" refers to the number of digits which can follow the decimal point.)
A selection of other datatypes for numeric variables would include: binary_float, binary_double, dec, decimal, double precision, float, integer, int, numeric, real, smallint, binary_integer ¬END¬
Character variables 
variable_name VARCHAR2(10) := 'Text';
To define a character variable, the programmer normally appends the variable type VARCHAR2 to the name definition. There follows in brackets the maximum number of characters which the variable can store.
Other datatypes for character variables include: varchar, char, long, raw, long raw, nchar, nchar2, clob, blob, bfile
Date variables 
variable_name DATE := TO_DATE('01-01-2005 14:20:23','DD-MM-YYYY hh24:mi:ss');
Date variables can contain date and time. The time may be left out, but there is no way to define a variable that only contains the time. There is no DATETIME type. And there is no TIME type. But there is a TIMESTAMP type that can contain fine grained timestamp up to millisecond or nanosecond. Oracle Datatypes
TO_DATE function can be used to convert strings to date values. The function converts the first quoted string into a date, using as a definition the second quoted string, for example:
TO_DATE ('31-Dec-2004','dd-mon-yyyy', 'NLS_DATE_LANGUAGE = American')
To convert the dates to strings one uses the function
TO_CHAR (date_string, format_string).
PL/SQL also supports the use of ANSI date and interval literals. The following clause gives an 18-month range:
WHERE dateField BETWEEN DATE '2004-12-31' - INTERVAL '1-6' YEAR TO MONTH AND DATE '2004-12-31'
Datatypes for specific columns 
This syntax defines a variable of the type of the referenced column on the referenced tables.
Programmers specify user-defined datatypes with the syntax:
type data_type is record (field_1 type_1 :=xyz, field_2 type_2 :=xyz, ..., field_n type_n :=xyz);
DECLARE TYPE t_address IS RECORD ( name address.name%TYPE, street address.street%TYPE, street_number address.street_number%TYPE, postcode address.postcode%TYPE); v_address t_address; BEGIN SELECT name, street, street_number, postcode INTO v_address FROM address WHERE ROWNUM = 1; END;
This sample program defines its own datatype, called t_address, which contains the fields name, street, street_number and postcode.
So according to the example, we are able to copy the data from the database to the fields in the program.
Using this datatype the programmer has defined a variable called v_address and loaded it with data from the ADDRESS table.
Programmers can address individual attributes in such a structure by means of the dot-notation, thus: "v_address.street := 'High Street';"
Conditional statements 
The following code segment shows the IF-THEN-ELSIF construct. The ELSIF and ELSE parts are optional so it is possible to create simpler IF-THEN or, IF-THEN-ELSE constructs.
IF x = 1 THEN sequence_of_statements_1; ELSIF x = 2 THEN sequence_of_statements_2; ELSIF x = 3 THEN sequence_of_statements_3; ELSIF x = 4 THEN sequence_of_statements_4; ELSIF x = 5 THEN sequence_of_statements_5; ELSE sequence_of_statements_N; END IF;
The CASE statement simplifies some large IF-THEN-ELSE structures.
CASE WHEN x = 1 THEN sequence_of_statements_1; WHEN x = 2 THEN sequence_of_statements_2; WHEN x = 3 THEN sequence_of_statements_3; WHEN x = 4 THEN sequence_of_statements_4; WHEN x = 5 THEN sequence_of_statements_5; ELSE sequence_of_statements_N; END CASE;
CASE statement can be used with predefined selector:
CASE x WHEN 1 THEN sequence_of_statements_1; WHEN 2 THEN sequence_of_statements_2; WHEN 3 THEN sequence_of_statements_3; WHEN 4 THEN sequence_of_statements_4; WHEN 5 THEN sequence_of_statements_5; ELSE sequence_of_statements_N; END CASE;
Array handling 
PL/SQL refers to arrays as "collections". The language offers three types of collections:
- Associative arrays (Index-by tables)
- Nested tables
- Varrays (variable-size arrays)
Programmers must specify an upper limit for varrays, but need not for index-by tables or for nested tables. The language includes several collection methods used to manipulate collection elements: for example FIRST, LAST, NEXT, PRIOR, EXTEND, TRIM, DELETE, etc. Index-by tables can be used to simulate associative arrays, as in this example of a memo function for Ackermann's function in PL/SQL.
Associative arrays (Index-by tables) 
With index-by tables, the array can be indexed by numbers or strings. It parallels a Java map, which comprises key-value pairs. There is only one dimension and it is unbounded.
Nested tables 
With nested tables the programmer needs to understand what is nested. Here, a new type is created that may be composed of a number of components. That type can then be used to make a column in a table, and nested within that column will be those components.
Varrays (variable-size arrays) 
With Varrays you need to understand that the word "variable" in the phrase "variable-size arrays" doesn't apply to the size of the array in the way you might think that it would. The size the array is declared with is in fact fixed. The number of elements in the array is variable up to the declared size. Arguably then, variable-sized arrays aren't that variable in size.
LOOP statements 
<<parent_loop>> LOOP statements <<child_loop>> LOOP statements EXIT parent_loop WHEN <condition>; -- Terminates both loops EXIT WHEN <condition>; -- Returns control to parent_loop END LOOP child_loop; IF <condition> THEN continue; -- continue to next iteration END IF; EXIT WHEN <condition>; END LOOP parent_loop;
FOR loops 
DECLARE var NUMBER; BEGIN /*N.B. for loop variables in pl/sql are new declarations, with scope only inside the loop */ FOR var IN 0 .. 10 LOOP DBMS_OUTPUT.put_line(var); END LOOP; IF (var IS NULL) THEN DBMS_OUTPUT.put_line('var is null'); ELSE DBMS_OUTPUT.put_line('var is not null'); END IF; END;
This is the output
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 var is null
Cursor FOR loops 
FOR RecordIndex IN (SELECT person_code FROM people_table) LOOP DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(RecordIndex.person_code); END LOOP;
Cursor-for loops automatically open a cursor, read in their data and close the cursor again.
As an alternative, the PL/SQL programmer can pre-define the cursor's SELECT-statement in advance in order (for example) to allow re-use or to make the code more understandable (especially useful in the case of long or complex queries).
DECLARE CURSOR cursor_person IS SELECT person_code FROM people_table; BEGIN FOR RecordIndex IN cursor_person LOOP DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(RecordIndex.person_code); END LOOP; END;
The concept of the person_code within the FOR-loop gets expressed with dot-notation ("."):
Similar languages 
PL/SQL functions analogously to the embedded procedural languages associated with other relational databases. Sybase ASE and Microsoft SQL Server have Transact-SQL, PostgreSQL has PL/pgSQL (which tries to emulate PL/SQL to an extent), and IBM DB2 includes SQL Procedural Language, which conforms to the ISO SQL’s SQL/PSM standard.
The designers of PL/SQL modelled its syntax on that of Ada. Both Ada and PL/SQL have Pascal as a common ancestor, and so PL/SQL also resembles Pascal in numerous aspects. The structure of a PL/SQL package closely resembles the basic Pascal program structure or a Borland Delphi unit. Programmers can define global data-types, constants and static variables, public and private, in a PL/SQL package.
PL/SQL also allows for the definition of classes and instantiating these as objects in PL/SQL code. This resembles usages in object-oriented programming languages like Object Pascal, C++ and Java. PL/SQL refers to a class as an "Abstract Data Type" (ADT) or "User Defined Type" (UDT), and defines it as an Oracle SQL data-type as opposed to a PL/SQL user-defined type, allowing its use in both the Oracle SQL Engine and the Oracle PL/SQL engine. The constructor and methods of an Abstract Data Type are written in PL/SQL. The resulting Abstract Data Type can operate as an object class in PL/SQL. Such objects can also persist as column values in Oracle database tables.
PL/SQL is fundamentally distinct from Transact-SQL, despite superficial similarities. Porting code from one to the other usually involves non-trivial work, not only due to the differences in the feature sets of the two languages, but also due to the very significant differences in the way Oracle and SQL Server deal with concurrency and locking.
See also 
- Serge Rielau (firstname.lastname@example.org), SQL Architect, STSM, IBM. "DB2 10: Run Oracle applications on DB2 10 for Linux, UNIX, and Windows". Ibm.com. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
- Nanda, Arup; Feuerstein, Steven (2005). Oracle PL/SQL for DBAs. O'Reilly Series. O'Reilly Media, Inc. p. 429. ISBN 978-0-596-00587-0. Retrieved 2011-01-11. "A pipelined table function [...] returns a result set as a collection [...] iteratively. [... A]s each row is ready to be assigned to the collection, it is 'piped out' of the function."
- "Literals". Oracle Database SQL Reference 10g Release 2 (10.2). Oracle. Retrieved 2009-03-20.
- "SQL PL". Publib.boulder.ibm.com. Retrieved 2012-07-26.
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (February 2008)|
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2008)|
- Feuerstein, Steven; with Bill Pribyl (2005). Oracle PL/SQL Programming (4th ed.). O'Reilly & Associates. ISBN 0-596-00977-1.
- Naudé, Frank (June 9, 2005). "Oracle PL/SQL FAQ rev 2.08".
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