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Understanding PL/SQL Functions

Understanding PL/SQL Procedures

A procedure is a subprogram that performs a specific action. You write procedures using the SQL CREATE PROCEDURE statement. You specify the name of the procedure, its parameters, its local variables, and the BEGIN-END block that contains its code and handles any exceptions.

For each parameter, you specify:

Its name.

Its parameter mode (IN, OUT, or IN OUT). If you omit the mode, the default is IN. The optional NOCOPY keyword speeds up processing of large OUT or IN OUT parameters.

Its datatype. You specify only the type, not any length or precision constraints.

Optionally, its default value.

You can specify whether the procedure executes using the schema and permissions of the user who defined it, or the user who calls it. For more information, see "Using Invoker's Rights Versus Definer's Rights (AUTHID Clause)" on page 8-15.

You can specify whether it should be part of the current transaction, or execute in its own transaction where it can COMMIT or ROLLBACK without ending the transaction of the caller. For more information, see "Doing Independent Units of Work with Autonomous Transactions" on page 6-35.

Procedures created this way are stored in the database. You can execute the CREATE PROCEDURE statement interactively from SQL*Plus, or from a program using native dynamic SQL (see Chapter 7, "Performing SQL Operations with Native Dynamic SQL").

A procedure has two parts: the specification (spec for short) and the body. The procedure spec begins with the keyword PROCEDURE and ends with the procedure name or a parameter list. Parameter declarations are optional. Procedures that take no parameters are written without parentheses.

The procedure body begins with the keyword IS (or AS) and ends with the keyword END followed by an optional procedure name. The procedure body has three parts: a declarative part, an executable part, and an optional exception-handling part.

The declarative part contains local declarations. The keyword DECLARE is used for anonymous PL/SQL blocks, but not procedures. The executable part contains statements, which are placed between the keywords BEGIN and EXCEPTION (or END). At least one statement must appear in the executable part of a procedure. You can use the NULL statement to define a placeholder procedure or specify that the procedure does nothing. The exception-handling part contains exception handlers, which are placed between the keywords EXCEPTION and END.

A procedure is called as a PL/SQL statement. For example, you might call the procedure raise_salary as follows:

raise_salary(emp_id, amount);

Understanding PL/SQL Functions

A function is a subprogram that computes a value. Functions and procedures are structured alike, except that functions have a RETURN clause.

Using PL/SQL Subprograms 8-3

Understanding PL/SQL Functions

Functions have a number of optional keywords, used to declare a special class of functions known as table functions. They are typically used for transforming large amounts of data in data warehousing applications.

The CREATE clause lets you create standalone functions, which are stored in an Oracle database. You can execute the CREATE FUNCTION statement interactively from SQL*Plus or from a program using native dynamic SQL.

The AUTHID clause determines whether a stored function executes with the privileges of its owner (the default) or current user and whether its unqualified references to schema objects are resolved in the schema of the owner or current user. You can override the default behavior by specifying CURRENT_USER.

The PARALLEL_ENABLE option declares that a stored function can be used safely in the slave sessions of parallel DML evaluations. The state of a main (logon) session is never shared with slave sessions. Each slave session has its own state, which is initialized when the session begins. The function result should not depend on the state of session (static) variables. Otherwise, results might vary across sessions.

The hint DETERMINISTIC helps the optimizer avoid redundant function calls. If a stored function was called previously with the same arguments, the optimizer can elect to use the previous result. The function result should not depend on the state of session variables or schema objects. Otherwise, results might vary across calls. Only DETERMINISTIC functions can be called from a function-based index or a materialized view that has query-rewrite enabled. For more information, see Oracle Database SQL Reference.

The pragma AUTONOMOUS_TRANSACTION instructs the PL/SQL compiler to mark a function as autonomous (independent). Autonomous transactions let you suspend the main transaction, do SQL operations, commit or roll back those operations, then resume the main transaction.

You cannot constrain (with NOT NULL for example) the datatype of a parameter or a function return value. However, you can use a workaround to size-constrain them indirectly. See "Understanding PL/SQL Procedures" on page 8-3.

Like a procedure, a function has two parts: the spec and the body. The function spec begins with the keyword FUNCTION and ends with the RETURN clause, which specifies the datatype of the return value. Parameter declarations are optional. Functions that take no parameters are written without parentheses.

The function body begins with the keyword IS (or AS) and ends with the keyword END followed by an optional function name. The function body has three parts: a declarative part, an executable part, and an optional exception-handling part.

The declarative part contains local declarations, which are placed between the keywords IS and BEGIN. The keyword DECLARE is not used. The executable part contains statements, which are placed between the keywords BEGIN and EXCEPTION (or END). One or more RETURN statements must appear in the executable part of a function. The exception-handling part contains exception handlers, which are placed between the keywords EXCEPTION and END.

A function is called as part of an expression:

IF sal_ok(new_sal, new_title) THEN ...

Using the RETURN Statement

The RETURN statement immediately ends the execution of a subprogram and returns control to the caller. Execution continues with the statement following the subprogram

8-4 PL/SQL User's Guide and Reference

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