PL/SQL (Procedural Language/Structured Query Language) is Oracle Corporation’s procedural extension for SQL and the Oracle relational database. PL/SQL is available in Oracle Database (since version 6 – stored pl/sql procedures/functions/packages/triggers since version 7), TimesTen in-memory database (since version 11.2.1), and IBM DB2 (since version 9.7). Oracle Corporation usually extends PL/SQL functionality with each successive release of the Oracle Database.
PL/SQL includes procedural language elements such as conditions and loops. It allows declaration of constants and variables, procedures and functions, types and variables of those types, and triggers. It can handle exceptions (runtime errors). Arrays are supported involving the use of PL/SQL collections. Implementations from version 8 of Oracle Database onwards have included features associated with object-orientation. One can create PL/SQL units such as procedures, functions, packages, types, and triggers, which are stored in the database for reuse by applications that use any of the Oracle Database programmatic interfaces.
PL/SQL works analogously to the embedded procedural languages associated with other relational databases. For example, Sybase ASE and Microsoft SQL Server have Transact-SQL, PostgreSQL has PL/pgSQL (which emulates 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 modeled 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 several aspects. However, the structure of a PL/SQL package does not resemble the basic Object Pascal program structure as implemented by a Borland Delphi or Free Pascal unit. Programmers can define public and private global data-types, constants and static variables 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 usage 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. There are software tools available that claim to facilitate porting including Oracle Translation Scratch Editor, CEITON MSSQL/Oracle Compiler and SwisSQL.
The StepSqlite product is a PL/SQL compiler for the popular small database SQLite which supports a subset of PL/SQL syntax. Oracle’s Berkeley DB 11g R2 release added support for SQL based on the popular SQLite API by including a version of SQLite in Berkeley DB. Consequently, StepSqlite can also be used as a third-party tool to run PL/SQL code on Berkeley DB.
PL/SQL program unit
The main feature of SQL (non procedural) is also a drawback of SQL. One can use control statements like decision making, iterative control if only SQL is to be used. PL/SQL is basically a procedural language, which provides functionality of decision making, iteration and many more features like other procedural programming languages. A PL/SQL program unit is one of the following: PL/SQL anonymous block, procedure, function, package specification, package body, trigger, type specification, type body, library. Program units are the PL/SQL source code that is compiled, developed and ultimately executed on the database.
PL/SQL anonymous block
The basic unit of a PL/SQL source program is the block, which groups together related declarations and statements. A PL/SQL block is defined by the keywords DECLARE, BEGIN, EXCEPTION, and END. These keywords divide the block into a declarative part, an executable part, and an exception-handling part. The declaration section is optional and may be used to define and initialize constants and variables. If a variable is not initialized then it defaults to NULL value. The optional exception-handling part is used to handle run time errors. Only the executable part is required. A block can have a label.
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