ORA-06592 and the Case of the Happy Australians

Another Ashes Tour to Australia has come and gone and the home team once again hold The Urn.
For any non-cricket fans, I should probably explain.
Every four years, England sends their Men’s and Women’s Cricket Teams to Australia on a goodwill mission.
The object of the exercise is to make Australians feel good about their country as their teams inevitably triumph.

These recently concluded contests provide the theme for the illustration of the less-than-straightforward circumstance surrounding the ORA-06592 error which follows.
When encountering this error, you’ll probably see something like

ORA-06592: CASE not found while executing CASE statement

06592. 00000 -  "CASE not found while executing CASE statement"
*Cause:    A CASE statement must either list all possible cases or have an
           else clause.
*Action:   Add all missing cases or an else clause.

Despite this apparently definitive advice, you don’t always need to cover any possible case, or include an ELSE clause… Continue reading

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Private Functions and ACCESSIBLE BY Packages in 12c

My recent post about PLS-00231 prompted an entirely reasonable question from Andrew :

“OK so the obvious question why [can’t you reference a private function in SQL] and doesn’t that defeat the objective of having it as a private function, and if so what about other ways of achieving the same goal ?”

I’ll be honest – that particular post was really just a note to self. I tend to write package members as public initially so that I can test them by calling them directly.
Once I’ve finished coding the package, I’ll then go through and make all of the helper package members private. My note was simply to remind myself that the PLS-00231 error when compiling a package usually means that I’ve referenced a function in a SQL statement and then made it private.

So, we know that a PL/SQL function can only be called in a SQL statement if it’s a schema level object or it’s definied in the package header because that’s the definition of a Public function in PL/SQL. Or at least it was…

In formulating an answer to Andrew’s question, it became apparent that the nature of Private functions have evolved a bit in 12c.

So, what I’m going to look at here is :

  • What are Private and Public package members in PL/SQL and why you might want to keep a package member private
  • How 12c language features change our definition of private and public in terms of PL/SQL objects
  • Hopefully provide some up-to-date answers for Andrew

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PLS-00231 – The best laid (cunning) plans and private package functions

There are times when I feel like Baldrick.
One moment I’m all boundless optimism and cunning plans and the next, I’m so confused I don’t know what my name is or where I live.
One such recent bout of existential uncertainty was caused by the error mentioned in the title of this post, or to give it it’s full name :

PLS-00231 : Function <function name> may not be used in SQL

So, from the beginning…

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Using Edition Based Redefinition for Rolling Back Stored Program Unit Changes

We had a few days of warm, sunny weather in Milton Keynes recently and this induced Deb and I to purchase a Garden Umberella to provide some shade.
After a lifetime of Great British Summers we should have known better. The sun hasn’t been seen since.
As for the umbrella ? Well that does still serve a purpose – it keeps the rain off.

Rather like an umbrella Oracle’s Edition Based Redefinition feature can be utilized for purposes other than those for which it was designed.
Introducted in Oracle Database 11gR2, Edition Based Redefinition (EBR to it’s friends) is a mechanism for facilitating zero-downtime releases of application code.
It achieves this by separating the deployment of code to the database and that code being made visible in the application.

To fully retro-fit EBR to an application, you would need to create special views – Editioning Views – for each application table and then ensure that any application code referenced those views and not the underlying tables.
Even if you do have a full automated test suite to perform your regression tests, this is likely to be a major undertaking.
The other aspect of EBR, one which is of interest here, is the way it allows you to have multiple versions of the same stored program unit in the database concurrently.

Generally speaking, as a database application matures, the changes made to it tend to be in the code rather more than in the table structure.
So, rather than diving feet-first into a full EBR deployment, what I’m going to look at here is how we could use EBR to:

  • decouple the deployment and release of stored program units
  • speed up the process of rolling back the release of multiple stored program unit changes
  • create a simple mechanism to roll back individual stored program unit changes

There’s a very good introductory article to EBR on OracleBase.
Whilst you’re here though, forget any Cross-Edition Trigger or Editioning View complexity and let’s dive into… Continue reading

Dude, Where’s My File ? Finding External Table Files in the midst of (another) General Election

It’s early summer in the UK, which means it must be time for an epoch defining vote of some kind. No, I’m not talking about Britain’s Got Talent.
Having promised that there wouldn’t be another General Election until 2020, our political classes have now decided that they can’t go any longer without asking us what we think. Again.
Try as I might, it may not be possible to prevent the ear-worm phrases from the current campaign slipping into this post.
What I want to look at is how you can persuade Oracle to tell you the location on disk of any files associated with a given external table.
Specifically, I’ll be covering :

  • getting the name of the Database Server
  • finding the fully qualified path of the datafile the external table is pointing to
  • finding other files associated with the table, such as logfiles

In the course of this, we’ll be challenging the orthodoxy of Western Capitalism “If You Can Do It In SQL…” with the principle of DRY ( Don’t Repeat Yourself).
Hopefully I’ll be able to come up with a solution that is “Strong and Stable” and yet at the same time “Works For The Many, Not the Few”…
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Breaking the Rules – why sometimes it’s OK to have a standalone PL/SQL Function

It was late. We were snuggled up on the sofa, watching a Romcom and debating whether to go to bed or see it through to the bitter( well, sickly sweet) end.

Wearily, I made the point that in the end the film would follow Heigl’s Iron Law of Romcom which can be summarised as “Katherine always gets her man”.

Deb begged to differ. Her argument was that, for every Colin Firth, riding into the sunset with his Bridget Jones, there’s a poor( largely blameless) Patrick Dempsey whose immediate future includes long-evenings alone in front of the telly and shopping for microwave meals for one.
The point is that even the most rigid rules tend to have their exceptions.

The star of this post is the oft-quoted rule that PL/SQL program units should always be incorporated into a Package.
There are special cameo appearances by “Never use Public Synonyms” and the ever popular “Never grant privileges to Public”.

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Automated Testing Frameworks and General Rule-Breaking in PL/SQL

If there’s one thing that 2016 has taught us is that rules (and in some cases, rulers) are made for breaking. Oh, and that it’s worth putting a fiver on when you see odds of 5000-1 on Leicester winning the League.

Having lacked the foresight to benefit from that last lesson, I’ve spent several months looking at Unit Testing frameworks for PL/SQL. In the course of this odyssey I’ve covered:

This post is a summary of what I’ve learned from this exercise, starting with the fact that many of the rules we follow about good programming practice are wrong…
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