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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