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Definition

PL/SQL (procedural language extension to Structured Query Language)

In Oracle database management, PL/SQL is a procedural language extension to Structured Query Language (SQL). The purpose of PL/SQL is to combine database language and procedural programming language. The basic unit in PL/SQL is called a block, which is made up of three parts: a declarative part, an executable part, and an exception-building part.

Because PL/SQL allows you to mix SQL statements with procedural constructs, it is possible to use PL/SQL blocks and subprograms to group SQL statements before sending them to Oracle for execution. Without PL/SQL, Oracle must process SQL statements one at a time and, in a network environment, this can affect traffic flow and slow down response time. PL/SQL blocks can be compiled once and stored in executable form to improve response time.

A PL/SQL program that is stored in a database in compiled form and can be called by name is referred to as a stored procedure. A PL/SQL stored procedure that is implicitly started when an INSERT, UPDATE or DELETE statement is issued against an associated table is called a trigger.

 

This was first published in October 2008

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