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Why and how are ref cursors used?

I am not clear about the utility of a REF cursor. Why, where and when are they used?

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Ref cursors can be used to access the contents of a database table. Also ref cursors can be opened dynamically. An example:
   type rc is ref cursor;
   cursor c is select * from dual;

   l_cursor rc;
   if ( to_char(sysdate,'dd') = 30 ) then
     open l_cursor for 'select * from emp';
   elsif ( to_char(sysdate,'dd') = 29 ) then
     open l_cursor for select * from dual;
   end if;
   open c;
Note: The regular will only select data from dual, whereas the ref cursor can be opened using multiple cursors.

For more information see Brian Peasland's article on dated 23 December 2002, titled "REF cursors explained."

This was first published in July 2006

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