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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.

Long running scheduler jobs

One of the nice things about the job scheduler in the Oracle database is the easily interpreted interval settings you can apply for job frequency. The days of cryptic strings like “sysdate+0.000694444” when all you really wanted to say was “Just run this job every minute” are a thing of the past. I covered how to get the database to convert interval strings into real execution dates here 

But it raises the question: What if I have a job that is scheduled to run every minute, but it takes more than 1 minute to run? Will the scheduler just crank out more and more concurrent executions of that job? Will I swamp my system with ever more background jobs? So I thought I’d find out with a simple test.

Oracle Magazine

Generally my blog is just snippets of tech content that take my interest as I encounter them (most commonly when looking at AskTOM). If I think they’ll be useful, I’ll just plonk them out right there and then. If you prefer your content in longer (and more structured Smile) form, then also I publish longer form articles on Oracle Magazine every couple of months. Below is a consolidated list of my articles. I’ll try to keep this list updated as I add new ones.

Old Dog, New Tricks, Part 2
Here’s a new SQL syntax for hierarchy processing.

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:

Connections with a wallet – redux

Wow…it is nearly 4 years ago now that I wrote an article on connecting to the database via a wallet to avoid having to hard code passwords into script. That article is here:

So I went to do a similar exercise on my new 18c Windows database today, and to my surprise things went pear shaped at the very first step


Just a normal start to the day today…I had my coffee


and then started working on some AskTOM questions. Naturally pretty much the first thing I needed to do is connect to my database, and then this happened:

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


Worth the wait

Yes, I know it’s been awhile Smile

Yes, I know people have been angry at the delay Smile

But, can we put that behind us, and rejoice in the fact…that YES

It’s here!

Yes, 18c XE for Windows is now available.

Statistics on Object tables

Way back in Oracle 8.0 we introduced the “Object-Relational” database, which was “the next big thing” in the database community back then. Every vendor was scrambling to show just how cool their database technology was with the object-oriented programming paradigm.

Don’t get me wrong – using the Oracle database object types and features associated with them has made my programming life a lot easier over the years. But for me, it’s always been pretty much limited to that, ie, programming, not actually using the object types in a database design as such. Nevertheless, using objects as columns, or even creating tables of objects is supported by the database. For example, I can create a object type of MY_OBJECT (which could itself be made up of objects) and then have a table, not with that object as a column, but actually a table of that object.

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.