When I first started writing about the Oracle PL/SQL language back in 1994, the only sources of information were the product documentation (such as it was) and the occasional paper and presentation at Oracle User Group events. Today, there are at least a dozen books that focus exclusively on PL/SQL, numerous products that help you write PL/SQL code (integrated development environments, knowledge bases, etc.), training classes, and web sites. And the community of PL/SQL developers continues to grow in size and maturity, even with the advent of Java.
Access to information about PL/SQL is no longer the challenge. It can, on the other hand, be difficult to make sense of all the new features, the numerous resources, the choices for tools, and so on. When it comes to writing a program or an entire application, developers have, over and over again, expressed the desire for advice. They ask:
How should I format my code?
What naming conventions, if any, should I use?
How can I write my packages so that they can be more easily maintained?
What is the best way to query information from the database?
How can I get all the developers on my team to handle errors the same way?
So many questions, so much burning desire to write code well, and so few resources available to help us do that.
So I decided to write a book that offers a concentrated set of “best practices” for the Oracle PL/SQL language. The objective of this book is to provide concrete, immediately applicable, quickly located advice that will assist you in writing code that is readable, maintainable, and efficient.
You will undoubtedly find recommendations in this book that also appear in some of my other books; I hope you will not be offended by this repetition. It’s simply impossible to offer in a single book everything that can and should be written about the Oracle PL/SQL language. While I plan to reinforce these best practices in the appropriate places in my other texts, I believe that we will all benefit from also having them available in one concise book, a book designed, beginning to end, to give you quick access to my recommendations for excellent PL/SQL coding techniques.