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PL/SQL – Don’t mix and match scope

Here’s a simple little PL/SQL block where we call an inner procedure PARAMETER_TESTER from its parent block. Pay particular attention to the parameter we pass to the procedure, and it’s value throughout the execution of that procedure.

Quick and easy masking

I had a request from a client a while back regarding masking of data. They had an application with sensitive data in the Production environment (where access and audit were very tightly controlled) but the issue was how to respect that sensitivity in non-Production environments whilst still preserving full size data sizes for application testing.

After some conversations about requirements, it turned out that since (even in non-Production environments) all access to application components was logged and audited, the issue was simply protecting against “inadvertent” access to sensitive data. For example, in the application, if I searched for “males with black hair with an interest in technology” I should never see the name “Connor McDonald” on screen in the results, because simply viewing that data could be treated as a breach of privacy.

More chances to bulk process

I’m sure most of us have read or heard at a conference the benefits of array fetching and array binding when it comes to passing data back and forth to the database. And we’ve all seen the numerous demo scripts in PL/SQL along the lines of:


FORALL i in 1 .. n 
   INSERT ...

As such, there is a misconception out there that you are only going to be able to use bulk binding for basic DML operations. So I thought I’d share this example that came in via AskTOM recently. We got asked if there was any means of improving the performance of this row-by-row operation where the DML was a complex Text index search, with the additional complication that on a row by row basis, the DML may fail but that this was an anticipated outcome that needed to be handled and moved past. The scenario presented was as follows:

Determined on Determinism

I’m feeling very determined on this one. Yes I have a lot of determination to inform blog readers about determinism, and yes I have run out of words that sound like DETERMINISTIC. But one of the most common misconceptions I see for PL/SQL functions is that developers treat them as if they were “extending” the existing database kernel. By this I mean that developers often assume that wherever an existing in-built function (for example TO_NUMBER or SUBSTR etc) could be used, then a PL/SQL function of their own creation will work in the exactly the same way.

Often that will be the case, but the most common scenario I see tripping up people is using PL/SQL functions within SQL statements. Consider the following simple example, where a PL/SQL function is utilizing the in-built SYSTIMESTAMP and TO_CHAR functions.

The death of UTL_FILE – part 2

I wrote a post a while back call “The Death of UTL_FILE”, and probably because of it’s click-bait title I got lots of feedback, so I’m back to flog that horse Smile. Seriously though, I stand behind my assertion in that post, that the majority of usages of UTL_FILE I’ve seen my career are mimicking the spooling behaviour of a SQL*Plus script. And as that post pointed out, you can now achieve that functionality directly with the scheduler.

That is well and good for writing files from the database, and I added:

It’s all downhill past 30

Yes, it sounds like a lamentation of the aging process, and from my own experience, it is definitely true that the wheels started falling off for my knees, back and plenty of other body parts once I turned 30. But that is perhaps a legacy of too much alcohol, not eating well in my youth and failing to stretch rather than any particular chronological milestone Smile.

But this post is not about that. This one is about the magical 30 character limit on identifiers that we finally lifted in version 12c. For static SQL, this is obviously a no impact change – you either define your tables and columns with longer names or you don’t, and the static SQL you write reflects that position.

IRR function in PLSQL

We had an AskTOM question recently about how to calculate the IRR, ie, the Internal Rate of Return. To be honest, I had not really heard of the function, but readers were quick to point out to me that it was a commonly used function in the most “popular” database on earth, namely Microsoft Excel Smile

The strange place for INHERIT PRIVILEGES

A while back in an Office Hours session, I touched on a relatively new privilege in the database called INHERIT PRIVILEGES which is designed to avoid erroneous privilege escalation via AUTHID CURRENT_USER routines.

You can watch the full video below

Oracle wait event ‘TCP Socket (KGAS)’

I was asked some time ago what the Oracle database event ‘TCP socket (KGAS)’ means. This blogpost is a deep dive into what this event times in Oracle database 12.1.0.2.180717.

This event is not normally seen, only when TCP connections are initiated from the database using packages like UTL_TCP, UTL_SMTP and the one used in this article, UTL_HTTP.

A very basic explanation is this event times the time that a database foreground session spends on TCP connection management and communicating over TCP, excluding client and database link (sqlnet) networking. If you trace the system calls, you see that mostly that is working with a (network) socket. Part of the code in the oracle database that is managing that, sits in the kernel code layer kgas, kernel generic (of which I am quite sure, and then my guess:) asynchronous services, which explains the naming of the event.

ODC Appreciation Day: Reduce CPU usage by running the business logic in the Oracle Database

A new blog post on the Databases at CERN blog to think about:

Where to run business logic: in the database or another tier?

What language for coding business logic: SQL, PL/SQL, JavaScript?

Guess how to reduce licensing costs? https://db-blog.web.cern.ch/blog/franck-pachot/2018-10-odc-appreciation-day-reduce-cpu-usage-running-business-logic-oracle

ODC Appreciation Day : Reduce CPU usage by running the business logic in the Oracle Database