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A refreshing look at PIVOT

We had an AskTOM question come in recently where our customer was very excited about the PIVOT operator in SQL which lets you transpose rows to columns. This is a very common requirement in applications that want to take data that has been modelled in “pure” relational form, and present in a more “human-digestible” form. There are plenty of posts and examples out there about PIVOT, but if you haven’t seen one, here’s a trivial example just so that you are up to speed for the rest of this post.

DBMS_JOB is an asynchronous mechanism

One of the very cool things about DBMS_JOB is that a job does not “exist” as such until the session that submitted the job commits the transaction. (This in my opinion is a critical feature that is missing from the DBMS_SCHEDULER package which, other than this omission, is superior to DBMS_JOB in every way).

Because DBMS_JOB is transactional, we can use it to make “non-transactional” things appear transactional. For example, if part of the workflow for hiring someone is to send an email to the Human Resources department, we can do the email via job submission so that an email is not sent if the employee record is not created successfully or is rolled back manually, eg:

How the log writer and foreground processes work together on commit.

(warning: this is a rather detailed technical post on the internal working of the Oracle database’s commit interactions between the committing foreground processes and the log writer)

After the Trivadis Performance days I was chatting to Jonathan Lewis. I presented my Profiling the log writer and database writer presentation, in which I state the foreground (user/server) process looks at the commit SCN in order to determine if its logbuffer contents are written to disk by the logwriter(s). Jonathan suggested looking deeper into this matter, because looking at the commit SCN might not the way it truly works.