It’s all about the interface

When we talk about program design we're mainly talking about interface design. The interface is the part of our program that the users interact with. Normally discussion of UI focuses on GUI or UX, that is, the interface with the end user of our application.

But developers are users too.

Another developer writing a program which calls a routine in my program is a user of my code (and, I must remember, six months after (more...)

Working with the Interface Segregation Principle

Obviously Interface Segregation is crucial for implementing restricted access. For any given set of data there are three broad categories of access:

  • reporting 
  • manipulation 
  • administration and governance 

So we need to define at least one interface - packages - for each category in order that we can grant the appropriate access to different groups of users: read-only users, regular users, power users.

But there's more to Interface Segregation. This example is based on a procedure (more...)

Three more principles

Here are some more principles which can help us design better programs. These principles aren't part of an organized theory, and they're aren't particularly related to any programming paradigm. But each is part of the canon, and each is about the relationship between a program's interface and its implementation.

The Principle Of Least Astonishment

Also known as the Principle of Least Surprise, the rule is simple: programs should do what we expect them to (more...)

Bind Variables

This example, tested on Oracle 11, shows how you can define bind variables in SQL*Plus, assign values to them in PL/SQL then display those values afterwards back in SQL*Plus:

SQL> variable bv1 varchar2(3)
SQL> variable bv2 number
SQL> begin
  2  select 'ABC' into :bv1 from dual;
  3  select 123 into :bv2 from dual;
  4  end;
  5  /

PL/SQL procedure successfully completed.

SQL> print bv1

BV1
--------------------------------
ABC

SQL> print bv2

       (more...)

#DB12c feature – Secure External Procedures with DBMS_CREDENTIAL

Oracle Database 12c enables enhanced security for extproc by authenticating it against a user-supplied credential. This new feature allows the creation of a user credential and links it with a PL/SQL library object. Whenever an application calls an external procedure, the extproc process authenticates the connection before loading the shared library. The DBMS_CREDENTIAL package is … Continue reading

Temporal validity, multiple end dates

Recently I got involved in a question on Temporal Validity Periods together with Chris Saxon, one of the askTom-answer team.

The question was along the lines of: "What if I have a single start date but two possible end dates. One of the end dates is filled automatically by a background proces (could be a job) while the other one is to signal that the end date is set manually by the user. Could you (more...)

Designing PL/SQL Programs: Series home page

Designing PL/SQL Programs is a succession of articles published the articles in a nonlinear fashion. Eventually it will evolve into a coherent series. In the meantime this page serves as a map and navigation aid. I will add articles to it as and when I publish them.

Introduction

Designing PL/SQL Programs

Principles and Patterns

Introducing the SOLID principles
Introducing the RCCASS principles
The Dependency Inversion Principle: a practical example

Software Architecture

Interface design

Tools and Techniques

The Dependency Inversion Principle: a practical example

These design principles may seem rather academic, so let's look at a real life demonstration of how applying Dependency Inversion Principle lead to an improved software design.

Here is a simplified version of an ETL framework which uses SQL Types in a similar fashion to the approach described in my blog post here. The loading process is defined using an abstract non-instantiable Type like this:

create or replace type load_t force as object
( txn_date (more...)

Introducing the RCCASS design principles

Rob C Martin actually defined eleven principles for OOP. The first five, the SOLID principles, relate to individual classes. The other six, the RCCASS principles, deal with the design of packages (in the C++ or Java sense, i.e. libraries). They are far less known than the first five. There are two reasons for this:

  • Unlike "SOLID", "RCCASS" is awkward to say and doesn't form a neat mnemonic. 
  • Programmers are far less interested in (more...)

Introducing the SOLID design principles

PL/SQL programming standards tend to focus on layout (case of keywords, indentation, etc), naming conventions, and implementation details (such as use of cursors).  These are all important things, but they don't address questions of design. How easy is it to use the written code?  How easy is it to test? How easy will it be to maintain? Is it robust? Is it secure?

Simply put, there are no agreed design principles for PL/SQL. So it's (more...)

Default parameter values in package subprograms

For a procedure (or function) in a package, you can assign default values only in the package specifications without assigning them in the package body:


SQL> CREATE OR REPLACE PACKAGE test_default_pkg AS
PROCEDURE set_global (p_num IN NUMBER DEFAULT 1);
END;
/

Package TEST_DEFAULT_PKG compiled

SQL> SHOW ERRORS;
No errors.
SQL> CREATE OR REPLACE PACKAGE BODY test_default_pkg AS
PROCEDURE set_global (p_num IN NUMBER) AS
BEGIN
NULL;
END;
END;
/

Package body TEST_DEFAULT_PKG compiled

SQL> SHOW ERRORS;
 (more...)

My Oracle Database Developer Choice Awards 2015


Earlier this week, Santa's little helper (ie DHL) knocked on my door and delivered a package containing my trophies from the Oracle Database Developer Choice Awards 2015. I was nominated in three categories, and won awards in two of them: Application Express and ORDS.




Here's a video from the award ceremony at Oracle OpenWorld 2015:




I'd like to send a big THANK YOU to everyone who voted for me, and also to Oracle for (more...)

Updating Identity Columns

During my presentation "Oracle 12c for Developers" at the Sloveninan and Croatian User Groups I got the same question twice about Indentity Columns:

Is it possible to update an Identity Column?
During the presentation I show how it is not possible to insert a value for a "Generated Always Identity" column.
Let's take a look at an example:

SQL> create table t
2 (id number generated as identity
3 ,name varchar2(35)
4 );

Table created.

(more...)

Sending SMS text messages from PL/SQL

Do you need to send SMS (Short Message Service) text messages from your Oracle database using PL/SQL? This is actually quite easy to do, the only hard part is deciding on which SMS gateway to use. You need to sign up with a gateway provider to get a username and password to use the gateway, and you typically pay some cents for each message you send.




Do a google search for "sms gateway api (more...)

My nominations for the Oracle Database Developer Choice Awards 2015


I'm honored to have been nominated for the Oracle Database Developer Choice Awards 2015, in no less than three (!) categories: PL/SQL, Application Express (Apex) and Oracle REST Data Services (ORDS).


Here's a short video that explains what the Oracle Database Developer Choice Awards are all about:

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you are probably familiar with my contributions to the Oracle Database Developer community, but here is (more...)

Rounding Amounts, the missing cent: with the MODEL clause

Rounding amounts may lead to rounding-issues, I have written how this may be resolved in a previous blogpost using some analytic functions.
Playing around a little bit, I also came up with a method to resolve the rounding difference with the MODEL clause.

To create an example, first let's create a table with only three records in it.


SQL> create table t
2 as
3 select rownum + 42 id
4 from dual
5 connect (more...)

Rounding Amounts, the missing cent

Dividing a certain amount over several rows can be quite tricky, simply rounding can lead to differences.
Let me try to explain what I mean. When you need to divide 100 by 3, the answer is 33.333333333333 (and a lot more threes).
Money only goes to cents, so if each one gets 33.33, there is a cent missing. (3 times 33.33 equals 99.99)
To solve this cent-problem, we decide that the (more...)

PL/SQL: The Good Parts

Somewhat inspired by Douglas Crockford's Javascript: The Good Parts presentation (and book), I have created a presentation called PL/SQL: The Good Parts.

This is not intended as an introduction to PL/SQL, but rather an overview of features you should consider if you want to maximize your enjoyment of programming in the Oracle Database. Also, this is not an exhaustive list of all features, it's simply the ones I personally use frequently.



Note that unlike (more...)

ORA-22926 when using getClobVal to convert XMLType to CLOB

I ran into a problem the other day when moving some code from one database to another (both XE 11g). The code in question needs to convert an XMLType to a CLOB to do some (hacky) string manipulation on it, and then turn it back to an XMLType.

Here's the original code:

  l_xml := apex_web_service.make_request(...);
 
  -- little hack to remove bad empty namespace from result
  l_clob := l_xml.getClobVal();
(more...)

Conditional Compilation and Static Boolean

One of my pet-projects is LoggerUtil, which is a utility for Logger, which is an excellent logging tool for PL/SQL.
This post is not about Logger, but some dealings with Conditional Compilation.

With Conditional Compilation you can create a single code base to handle different functionalities depending on compiler flags.
The latest addition to LoggerUtil was a method to create a custom template. For this to work, LoggerUtil depends on a certain Logger Release (where (more...)