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In this tutorial, you are going to see the detailed description on how to create and execute the named blocks (procedures and functions).

Procedures and Functions are the subprograms which can be created and saved in the database as database objects. They can be called or referred inside the other blocks also.

Apart from this, we will cover the major differences between these two subprograms. Also, we are going to discuss the Oracle built-in functions.

In this tutorial, you will learn-

Terminologies in PL/SQL Subprograms

Before we learn about PL/SQL subprograms, we will discuss the various terminologies that are the part of these subprograms. Below are the terminologies that we are going to discuss.

Parameter:

The parameter is variable or placeholder of any valid PL/SQL datatype through which the PL/SQL subprogram exchange the values with the main code. This parameter allows to give input to the subprograms and to extract from these subprograms.

  • These parameters should be defined along with the subprograms at the time of creation.
  • These parameters are included n the calling statement of these subprograms to interact the values with the subprograms.
  • The datatype of the parameter in the subprogram and the calling statement should be same.
  • The size of the datatype should not mention at the time of parameter declaration, as the size is dynamic for this type.

Based on their purpose parameters are classified as

  1. IN Parameter
  2. OUT Parameter
  3. IN OUT Parameter

IN Parameter:

  • This parameter is used for giving input to the subprograms.
  • It is a read-only variable inside the subprograms. Their values cannot be changed inside the subprogram.
  • In the calling statement, these parameters can be a variable or a literal value or an expression, for example, it could be the arithmetic expression like '5*8' or 'a/b' where 'a' and 'b' are variables.
  • By default, the parameters are of IN type.

OUT Parameter:

  • This parameter is used for getting output from the subprograms.
  • It is a read-write variable inside the subprograms. Their values can be changed inside the subprograms.
  • In the calling statement, these parameters should always be a variable to hold the value from the current subprograms.

IN OUT Parameter:

  • This parameter is used for both giving input and for getting output from the subprograms.
  • It is a read-write variable inside the subprograms. Their values can be changed inside the subprograms.
  • In the calling statement, these parameters should always be a variable to hold the value from the subprograms.

These parameter type should be mentioned at the time of creating the subprograms.

RETURN

RETURN is the keyword that instructs the compiler to switch the control from the subprogram to the calling statement. In subprogram RETURN simply means that the control needs to exit from the subprogram. Once the controller finds RETURN keyword in the subprogram, the code after this will be skipped.

Normally, parent or main block will call the subprograms, and then the control will shift from those parent block to the called subprograms. RETURN in the subprogram will return the control back to their parent block. In the case of functions RETURN statement also returns the value. The datatype of this value is always mentioned at the time of function declaration. The datatype can be of any valid PL/SQL data type.

What is Procedure in PL/SQL?

A Procedure is a subprogram unit that consists of a group of PL/SQL statements. Each procedure in Oracle has its own unique name by which it can be referred. This subprogram unit is stored as a database object. Below are the characteristics of this subprogram unit.

Note: Subprogram is nothing but a procedure, and it needs to be created manually as per the requirement. Once created they will be stored as database objects.

  • Procedures are standalone blocks of a program that can be stored in the database.
  • Call to these procedures can be made by referring to their name, to execute the PL/SQL statements.
  • It is mainly used to execute a process in PL/SQL.
  • It can have nested blocks, or it can be defined and nested inside the other blocks or packages.
  • It contains declaration part (optional), execution part, exception handling part (optional).
  • The values can be passed into the procedure or fetched from the procedure through parameters.
  • These parameters should be included in the calling statement.
  • Procedure can have a RETURN statement to return the control to the calling block, but it cannot return any values through the RETURN statement.
  • Procedures cannot be called directly from SELECT statements. They can be called from another block or through EXEC keyword.

Syntax:

CREATE OR REPLACE PROCEDURE 
<procedure_name>
	(
	<parameterl IN/OUT <datatype>
	..
	.
	)
[ IS | AS ]
	<declaration_part>
BEGIN
	<execution part>
EXCEPTION
	<exception handling part>
END;
  • CREATE PROCEDURE instructs the compiler to create new procedure. Keyword 'OR REPLACE' instructs the compile to replace the existing procedure (if any) with the current one.
  • Procedure name should be unique.
  • Keyword 'IS' will be used, when the procedure is nested into some other blocks. If the procedure is standalone then 'AS' will be used. Other than this coding standard, both have the same meaning.

Example1: Creating Procedure and calling it using EXEC

In this example, we are going to create a procedure that takes the name as input and prints the welcome message as output. We are going to use EXEC command to call procedure.

CREATE OR REPLACE PROCEDURE welcome_msg (p_name IN VARCHAR2) 
IS
BEGIN
dbms_output.put_line (‘Welcome '|| p_name);
END;
/
EXEC welcome_msg (‘Guru99’);

Code Explanation:

  • Code line 1: Creating the procedure with name 'welcome_msg' and with one parameter 'p_name' of 'IN' type.
  • Code line 4: Printing the welcome message by concatenating the input name.
  • Procedure is compiled successfully.
  • Code line 7: Calling the procedure using EXEC command with the parameter 'Guru99'. Procedure is executed, and the message is printed out as "Welcome Guru99".

What is Function?

Functions is a standalone PL/SQL subprogram. Like PL/SQL procedure, functions have a unique name by which it can be referred. These are stored as PL/SQL database objects. Below are some of the characteristics of functions.

  • Functions are a standalone block that is mainly used for calculation purpose.
  • Function use RETURN keyword to return the value, and the datatype of this is defined at the time of creation.
  • A Function should either return a value or raise the exception, i.e. return is mandatory in functions.
  • Function with no DML statements can be directly called in SELECT query whereas the function with DML operation can only be called from other PL/SQL blocks.
  • It can have nested blocks, or it can be defined and nested inside the other blocks or packages.
  • It contains declaration part (optional), execution part, exception handling part (optional).
  • The values can be passed into the function or fetched from the procedure through the parameters.
  • These parameters should be included in the calling statement.
  • Function can also return the value through OUT parameters other than using RETURN.
  • Since it will always return the value, in calling statement it always accompanies with assignment operator to populate the variables.

Subprograms: Procedures and Functions in PL/SQL

Syntax

CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION 
<procedure_name>
(
<parameterl IN/OUT <datatype>
)
RETURN <datatype>
[ IS | AS ]
<declaration_part>
BEGIN
<execution part> 
EXCEPTION
<exception handling part>
END; 
  • CREATE FUNCTION instructs the compiler to create a new function. Keyword 'OR REPLACE' instructs the compiler to replace the existing function (if any) with the current one.
  • The Function name should be unique.
  • RETURN datatype should be mentioned.
  • Keyword 'IS' will be used, when the procedure is nested into some other blocks. If the procedure is standalone then 'AS' will be used. Other than this coding standard, both have the same meaning.

Example1: Creating Function and calling it using Anonymous Block

In this program, we are going to create a function that takes the name as input and returns the welcome message as output. We are going to use anonymous block and select statement to call the function.

Subprograms: Procedures and Functions in PL/SQL

CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION welcome_msgJune ( p_name IN VARCHAR2) RETURN VAR.CHAR2
IS
BEGIN
RETURN (‘Welcome ‘|| p_name);
END;
/
DECLARE
lv_msg VARCHAR2(250);
BEGIN
lv_msg := welcome_msg_func (‘Guru99’);
dbms_output.put_line(lv_msg);
END;
SELECT welcome_msg_func(‘Guru99:) FROM DUAL;

Code Explanation:

  • Code line 1: Creating the function with name 'welcome_msg_func' and with one parameter 'p_name' of 'IN' type.
  • Code line 2: declaring the return type as VARCHAR2
  • Code line 5: Returning the concatenated value 'Welcome' and the parameter value.
  • Code line 8: Anonymous block to call the above function.
  • Code line 9: Declaring the variable with datatype same as the return datatype of the function.
  • Code line 11: Calling the function and populating the return value to the variable 'lv_msg'.
  • Code line 12: Printing the variable value. The output you will get here is "Welcome Guru99"
  • Code line 14: Calling the same function through SELECT statement. The return value is directed to the standard output directly.

Similarities between Procedure and Function

  • Both can be called from other PL/SQL blocks.
  • If the exception raised in the subprogram is not handled in the subprogram exception handling section, then it will propagate to the calling block.
  • Both can have as many parameters as required.
  • Both are treated as database objects in PL/SQL.

Procedure Vs. Function: Key Differences

Procedure
Function
  • Used mainly to a execute certain process
  • Used mainly to perform some calculation
  • Cannot call in SELECT statement
  • A Function that contains no DML statements can be called in SELECT statement
  • Use OUT parameter to return the value
  • Use RETURN to return the value
  • It is not mandatory to return the value
  • It is mandatory to return the value
  • RETURN will simply exit the control from subprogram.
  • RETURN will exit the control from subprogram and also returns the value
  • Return datatype will not be specified at the time of creation
  • Return datatype is mandatory at the time of creation

Built-in Functions in PL/SQL

PL/SQL contains various built-in functions to work with strings and date datatype. Here we are going to see the commonly used functions and their usage.

Conversion Functions

These built-in functions are used to convert one datatype to another datatype.

Function Name
Usage
EXAMPLE
TO_CHAR Converts the other datatype to character datatype TO_CHAR(123);
TO_DATE ( string, format ) Converts the given string to date. The string should match with the format. TO_DATE('2015-JAN-15', 'YYYY-MON-DD');

Output: 1/15/2015
TO_NUMBER (text, format) Converts the text to number type of the given format. Informat '9' denotes the number of digits Select TO_NUMBER('1234','9999') from dual;

Output: 1234

Select TO_NUMBER('1,234.45','9,999.99') from dual;

Output: 1234

String Functions

These are the functions that are used on the character datatype.

Function Name
Usage
EXAMPLE
INSTR(text, string, start, occurance) Gives the position of particular text in the given string.
  • text – Main string
  • string – text that need to be searched
  • start – starting position of the search (optional)
  • accordance – occurrence of the searched string (optional)
Select INSTR('AEROPLANE','E',2,1) from dual
Output: 2 Select INSTR('AEROPLANE','E',2,2) from dual
Output: 9 (2nd occurance of E)
SUBSTR ( text, start, length) Gives the substring value of the main string.
  • text – main string
  • start – starting position
  • length – length to be sub stringed
select substr('aeroplane',1,7) from dual
Output: aeropla
UPPER ( text ) Returns the uppercase of the provided text Select upper('guru99') from dual;
Output: GURU99
LOWER ( text ) Returns the lowercase of the provided text Select lower ('AerOpLane') from dual;
Output: aeroplane
INITCAP ( text) Returns the given text with the starting letter in upper case. Select ('guru99') from dual
Output: Guru99
Select ('my story') from dual
Output: My Story
LENGTH ( text ) Returns the length of the given string Select LENGTH ('guru99') from dual;
Output: 6
LPAD ( text, length, pad_char) Pads the string in the left side for the given length (total string) with the given character Select LPAD('guru99', 10, '$') from dual;
Output: $$$$guru99
RPAD (text, length, pad_char) Pads the string in the right side for the given length (total string) with the given character Select RPAD('guru99',10,'-') from dual
Output: guru99----
LTRIM ( text ) Trims the leading white space from the text Select LTRIM(' Guru99') from dual;
Output: Guru99
RTRIM ( text ) Trims the trailing white space from the text Select RTRIM('Guru99 ') from dual;
Output; Guru99

Date Functions

These are functions that are used for manipulating with dates.

Function Name
Usage
EXAMPLE
ADD_MONTHS (date, no.of months) Adds the given months to the date ADD_MONTH('2015-01-01',5);
Output: 05/01/2015
SYSDATE Returns the current date and time of the server Select SYSDATE from dual;
Output: 10/4/2015 2:11:43 PM
TRUNC Round of the date variable to the lower possible value select sysdate, TRUNC(sysdate) from dual; Output: 10/4/2015 2:12:39 PM 10/4/2015
ROUND Rounds the date to the nearest limit either higher or lower Select sysdate, ROUND(sysdate) from dual Output: 10/4/2015 2:14:34 PM 10/5/2015
MONTHS_BETWEEN Returns the number of months between two dates Select MONTHS_BETWEEN (sysdate+60, sysdate) from dual
Output: 2

Summary

In this chapter, we have learned the following.

  • How to create Procedure and different ways of calling it
  • How to create Function and different ways of calling it
  • Similarities and differences between Procedure and Function
  • Parameters and RETURN common terminologies in PL/SQL subprograms
  • Common built-in functions in Oracle PL/SQL

 

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