You can use traditional datatypes, such as those described in Chapter 4, to represent a portion of the information that your organization needs to store and manage. Introduction of the XML datatype (described in Chapter 4) and XML features (described in Chapter 14) have extended Oracle to also function as an "XML database." Oracle also provides datatypes that are specifically designed to provide optimal storage, performance, and flexibility for other specific types of data; these datatypes are the focus of this chapter.
Real-world information used in business, such as purchase orders, claims forms, shipping forms, and so on, may sometimes be best represented as object types, which are more complex than the simple atomic datatypes discussed in Chapter 4. Data that includes a timestamp may be better manipulated as a time series. Location-oriented data may best be represented using spatial coordinates. Documents, images, video clips, and audio clips have their own special requirements for storage and retrieval.
Oracle has extended the functionality of its basic relational database engine to support the storage and manipulation of these nontraditional datatypes through the introduction of additional features and options. Oracle has also extended the types of data, the SQL that manipulates it, and the basic Oracle service framework so that you can modify the data and extend its capabilities even further.
An object-oriented ...