1.2. Why Use PL/SQL?

To fully understand why and where PL/SQL is a good fit, it's important to understand the limitations of alternate languages. Let's first hark back to the early days and find out why PL/SQL exists at all.

1.2.1. "I'd Rather Use a `Real' Language Like C!"

Before PL/SQL, the only way to bundle up Oracle's SQL statements inside complex procedural programs was to embed your SQL in another programming language, which was typically C. This was essential because SQL alone has no way to enforce rules such as "when you sell a widget, total the monthly sales figures, and decrease the widget inventory by one," or "only a manager can discount blue widgets by more than 10%." So the C programs had to enforce those business rules.

While using a "host language" like C can work, more or less (as long as everybody is strictly required to use the application program—and that's a big if), it has some other limitations:

  • Different vendors' C compilers and libraries are not 100% compatible, making it expensive to port application programs from one maker's computer to another. Even if the code doesn't change, you still have to test it. Because Oracle designed PL/SQL to run identically on every platform, though, stored procedures are reusable across different server hardware and operating systems, with minimal testing required (after testing on one platform, some people don't even bother to test PL/SQL before using it on another platform). This turns out to be important not just ...

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