SQL facts to study before you start writing SQL or PL SQL coding in Oracle
Structured Query Language or SQL for short (pronounced as sequel) is what a database app developer uses to interact with Oracle RDBMS. You can also use the Programming Language/SQL (PL/SQL) instead.
SQL is the standard method through which manipulation of DBMS objects is made possible. These manipulations include creation/addition/insertion, modification/updating and deletions. The part of SQL that makes these possible is called the DDL or Data Definition Language. SQL can also be used for insertion, updating, deletion or data querying within the objects. This part is called the DML, or Data Manipulation Language. Both aspects can be managed by remote database experts.
Just like all other DBMS providers, Oracle has included non-standard implementations of SQL within their databases. This includes creation of items not naturally included in the standard specification e.g. support and sequences for recursive queries, a feature that is unique to Oracle.
If you learn SQL within the Oracle environment, you will be able to work in virtually all other DBMS e.g. MySQL and SQL Server, of course with minor differences unique to specific RDBMSs. Before venturing into PL/SQL, mastery of SQL is recommended.
PL/SQL is a product that is only in Oracle and no other product. Therefore, you can only use it in an Oracle environment. However, PL/SQL follows the same set of guidelines and rules as other programming languages, which means that it is not difficult to learn if you have background in another programming language. It resembles the non-object-oriented programming languages like Pascal or C.
A unique feature of PL/SQL is that it is rather tightly integrated with SQL making it very easy to embed SQL blocks into PL/SQL compared to other languages. It is therefore the ideal tool when you are writing for larger and more complex programs that will interact with Oracle databases.
Differences in PL/SQL and SQL
These are two completely distinct languages. In SQL, you are allowed direct access into a database where you can manipulate both data and objects as previously demonstrated. However, in SQL, there aren’t any of the normal features present in other programming languages, like IF…THEN statements and loops.
This is where PL/SQL comes in. It includes most of the features that are in normal programming languages to enable such manipulation as necessary. It offers the added advantage of being integratable with SQL, which makes it superior.
The latest for SQL and PL/SQL
Both PL/SQL and SQL are continuously evolving, and they make up the foundations of most applications developed to run on Oracle. Every new release of the Oracle database is accompanied by an expansion of the features available within these languages. This enables the languages to be executed faster with the release of consequent versions without the programmer’s additional effort. In addition, retrieval of information is made easier.
Each release introduces new capabilities in PL/SQL and SQL, which means that it’s important for programmers to stay informed on changes and how they affect future Oracle developments and manipulations. While the old features would still work, not staying current will mean that you lose out on many features that could make your work easier in subsequent versions of Oracle.
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