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  Oracle Concepts by Burleson Consulting

The Evolution and Features of PL/SQL

We begin our theme with a discussion of the evolution and features of PL/SQL by investigating programming within database applications.  We will introduce how PL/SQL allows for stored programming and the ability of PL/SQL to be executed independently from a client-side application.  We also introduce the origins of the PL/SQL language and take a look at how the PL/SQL language has evolved over the past decade into a robust database programming language.  We also introduce the concepts of modular construction of PL/SQL code and look at support for the object-oriented model with than PL/SQL.

We will also describe how PL/SQL can be placed into anonymous code snippets, stored procedures, and functions within the domain of the database engine.  We also then take a look at how PL/SQL stored procedures and functions can be encapsulated into PL/SQL packages, which can then be cached inside the database and executed at very high speeds.

Oracle has a commitment to continually improve the functionality, and PL/SQL has become a very powerful procedural language.  Of all of the features of PL/SQL, the most important are:

1 – Tight coupling with the database – Unlike other procedural languages such as C++, PL/SQL has direct interfaces into the database.  In PL/SQL, you can place SQL directly inside the PL/SQL program without the burden of working with an Application Programming Interface (API).

2 – Code is stored inside the database – Because PL/SQL is stored inside the Oracle data dictionary, the code can be cached inside Oracle for very fast execution.

3 – Code independence – Oracle PL/SQL code can be encapsulated into stored procedures and functions that can be easily invoked from external programs.

4 – Package constructs – PL/SQL stored procedures and functions can be placed directly inside packages.

We should now have a complete understanding of the properties of SQL and PL/SQL in a Oracle database environment.  We have now covered the basics of the interaction of SQL with the relational database and learned important techniques for monitoring and changing the behavior of SQL statements.  We also examined the main features of PL/SQL and learned why PL/SQL is a popular choice for programming Oracle-based applications.

The main points of this tutorial include:

  • SQL is far easier to use than navigational database languages because the SQL optimizer automatically determines the access path to the data.
  • The SQL optimizer determines the optimal execution plan by looking at table and index statistics inside the data dictionary.
  • The goals of SQL tuning are to search for inefficient SQL: inside the library cache and tune the SQL by adding indexes, using hints, of re-writing the query.
  • The PL/SQL language is a powerful Oracle-centric language that has become very popular because if its tight-coupling with the Oracle database and built-in API.  PL/SQL is extremely popular because the procedural code can be stored directly inside the Oracle database.  Once a PL/SQL procedure is defined to the database, external programs can call the procedure and invoke the PL/SQL code.

We are now ready to move on to the next tutorial titled “Basic SQL data access”.  In this tutorial we will understand some advanced SQL query features and learn the internal mechanisms for processing SQL inside the Oracle database.

For more details, see the "Easy Oracle Series" a set of books especially designed by Oracle experts to get you started fast with Oracle database technology.

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