1.4. Using Packages

Whether you are referencing an element in a builtin package, prebuilt package, or build-your-own package, the syntax is the same. One thing to remember is that a package itself is not any kind of executable piece of code. Instead, it is a repository for code that is executed or otherwise used. When you use a package, you actually execute or make reference to an element in a package. To use a package you must know what is defined and available inside the package. This information is contained in the package specification.

1.4.1. The Package Specification

The package specification contains the definition or specification of all elements in the package that may be referenced outside of the package. These are called the public elements of the package. Here is a very simple package specification consisting of two procedures:

PACKAGE sp_timer
   PROCEDURE capture;
   PROCEDURE show_elapsed;
END sp_timer;

(The sp_timer package is an early version of the PLVtmr package, used to time PL/SQL code execution.) What do you learn by looking at this specification? That you can call either the capture or the show_elapsed procedures of sp_timer—and that is it.

The package specification contains all the code needed for a developer to understand how to call the objects in the package. A developer should never have to examine the code behind the specification (which is the body) in order to understand how to use and benefit from the package.

Here is a more generic representation ...

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