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With and without WITH_PLSQL within a WITH SQL statement

OK, let’s be honest right up front. The motivation for this post is solely to be able to roll out a tongue twisting blog post title Smile. But hopefully there’s some value as well in here for you if you’re hitting the error:

ORA-32034: unsupported use of WITH clause

First some background. A cool little enhancement to the WITH clause came along in 12c that allowed PLSQL functions to be defined within the scope of the executing SQL statement. To see the benefit of this, consider the following example that I have a personal affinity with (given my surname).

Let’s say I’ve allowed mixed-case data in a table that holds names.

Being generous to the optimizer

In a perfect world, the optimizer would reach out from the server room, say to us: “Hey, lets grab a coffee and have a chat about that query of yours”. Because ultimately, that is the task we are bestowing on the optimizer – to know what our intent was in terms of running a query in a way that meets the performance needs of our applications. It generally does a pretty good job even without the coffee Smile, but if we can keep that caffeine hit in mind, we can do our bit as SQL developers to give the optimizer as much assistance as we can.

Hacking together faster INSERTs

Most developers tools out there have some mechanism to unload a table into a flat file, either as CSV, or Excel, and some even allow you to unload the data as INSERT statements. The latter is pretty cool because it’s a nice way of having a self-contained file that does not need Excel or DataPump or any tool additional to the one you’re probably using to unload the data.

SQLcl and SQL Developer are perhaps the easiest to utilize for such an extract. You simply add the pseudo-hint INSERT to get the output as insert statements. For example:

SQL prevents database corruption and injection, except in the ridiculous movie’s hacker scenes.

SQL is the Structured Query Language used to define and manipulate data in most of the databases in the world, and the most critical ones (banks, hospitals, airlines, secret services… ). And then, it gives the impression that with SQL you can do whatever you want, bypassing all application control, as if it were a backdoor to your database, wide opened on the network.

Superman 3 “overide all security” command

Programmers always laugh when seeing ridiculous hacking scenes in movies. In 2016 there was this “use SQL to corrupt their database” line in Jason Bourne (nothing to do with JSON or /bin/sh, by the way, it’s a movie) and recently in StarTrek: discovery series the hacking 'audit' was explained as “The probe used multiple SQL injections”. I’ve put the links at the end of this post.

External table preprocessor on Windows

There are plenty of blog posts about using the pre-processor facility in external tables to get OS level information available from inside the database. Here’s a simple example of getting a directory listing:

Less slamming V$SQL

It’s a holiday here today in Perth, so a very brief blog post because I’ve been busy doing other things today Smile


MERGE and ORA-30926

Just a quick blog post on MERGE and the “unable to get a stable set of rows” error that often bamboozles people. This is actually just the script output from a pre-existing YouTube video (see below) that I’ve already done on this topic, but I had a few requests for the SQL example end-to-end, so here it is.

Imagine the AskTOM team had a simple table defining the two core members, Chris Saxon and myself. But in the style of my true Aussie laziness, I was very slack about checking the quality of the data I inserted.

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:

LISTAGG hits prime time

It’s a simple requirement. We want to transform this:

SQL> select deptno, ename
  2  from   emp
  3  order by 1,2;

---------- ----------
        10 CLARK
        10 KING
        10 MILLER
        20 ADAMS
        20 FORD
        20 JONES
        20 SCOTT
        20 SMITH
        30 ALLEN
        30 BLAKE
        30 JAMES
        30 MARTIN
        30 TURNER
        30 WARD

into this:

Oracle numbers in K/M/G/T/P/E

Oracle is very well instrumented, for decades, from a time where measuring the memory in bytes was ok. But today, we spend a lot of time converting bytes in KB, GB, TB to read it easily. I would love to see a Human-Readable format for TO_CHAR, but there’s not. Here is a workaround without having to create a new function.

DBMS_XPLAN does that when displaying execution plans and we can access the functions it uses internally. The metrics can be numbers, and then the Kilo, Mega, Giga applies to powers of 1000. Or they can be a size in bytes, and we prefer the powers of 1024. Or they can be a time in seconds, and then we use a base 60. And then we have 3 sets of functions: