255 Again!

There’s so many things that can go wrong when you start using tables with more than 255 columns – here’s one I discovered partly because I was thinking about a client requirement, partly because I had a vague memory of a change in behaviour in 12c and Stefan Koehler pointed me to a blog note by Sayan Malakshinov when I asked the Oak Table if anyone remembered seeing the relevant note. Enough of the roundabout (more...)

255 columns

This is one of my “black hole” articles – I drafted it six months ago, but forgot to publish it.

A recent post on OTN highlighted some of the interesting oddities that appear when you create tables with more than 255 columns. In fact this was a more subtle case than usual because it reminded us that it’s possible to have a partitioned table which appears to have less than the critical 255 columns while (more...)

Quantum Space

Here’s a not very serious note that makes a serious point.  I’ve got a small tablespace made up of 4 files, and here’s a little report I can run against the data dictionary for that tablespace:

select 'File space' What, nvl(sum(user_bytes)/1048576,0) MB from dba_data_files where tablespace_name = 'LOB_TEST'
union all
select 'Free space',      nvl(sum(bytes/1048576),0)         from dba_free_space where tablespace_name = 'LOB_TEST'
union all
select 'Extents',         nvl(sum(bytes/1048576),0)         from dba_extents    where tablespace_name = 'LOB_TEST'
union all
select  (more...)


The opt_estimate hint is one of many that shouldn’t be used in end-user code and isn’t officially documented. Nevertheless – like so many other hints – it’s a hint that is hard to ignore when you see it floating around the code generated by the Oracle software. This note is prompted by a twitter question from fellow Oak Table member Stefan Koehler asking the about working of the hint’s index_filter parameter. Checking my library I (more...)


Here’s a performance problem that came up on OTN recently. The following query (reforematted) takes “ages” to run – how do you address the problem:

	report_ID IN (
		SELECT	report_id
		FROM	smp_dbuser2.workflow_report
		WHERE	trunc(start_time) = '28-Apr-2017'
		AND	user_id = 'nbi_ssc'

Various pieces of relevant information were supplied (the workflow_report table holds 1.4M rows the workflow_step_report table holds 740M rows and some indexes were described), but (more...)


Imagine you’re fairly new to Oracle and don’t have a lot of background information at your fingertips; then one day someone tells you to read the manual pages for the view dba_free_space. Look carefully at this sentence:

Note that if a data file (or entire tablespace) is offline in a locally managed tablespace, you will not see any extent information.

Can you spot the error ? Did you spot the error when you first read the (more...)

Quiz Night

If this is the closing section of a trace file from a single end-user session that has a performance problem, what’s the most obvious deduction you can make about the cause of the problem, and what sort of action would you take next ?


call     count       cpu    elapsed       disk      query    current        rows
------- ------  -------- ---------- ---------- ---------- ----------  ----------
Parse      296      0.06       0.10          0        651          0           0

Undo Understood

It’s hard to understand all the ramifications of Oracle’s undo handling, and it’s not hard to find cases where the resulting effects are very confusing. In a recent post on the OTN database forum resulted in one response insisting that the OP was obviously updating a table with frequent commits from one session while querying it from another thereby generating a large number of undo reads in the querying session.

It’s a possible cause of (more...)

Character selectivity

A recent OTN posting asked how the optimizer dealt with “like” predicates for character types quoting the DDL and a query that I had published some time ago in a presentation I had done with Kyle Hailey. I thought that I had already given a detailed answer somewhere on my blog (or even in the presentation) but found that I couldn’t track down the necessary working, so here’s a repeat of the question and a (more...)

Ask Jonathan

Oracle Scene, the magazine of the UK Oracle User Group is piloting a new regular feature called Ask Jonathan,  a chance to get an answer to any question you may have about how the Oracle database engine works.

I’m aiming to answer two or three questions per issue over the course of the year, using a format similar to the one Tom Kyte used in Oracle Magazine:  so if you have a question about (more...)