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Oracle PL/SQL Programming, Third Edition by Bill Pribyl, Steven Feuerstein

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Resources for PL/SQL Developers

O’Reilly & Associates published the first edition of this book back in 1995. At that time, Oracle PL/SQL Programming made quite a splash. It was the first independent (i.e., not emanating from Oracle) book on PL/SQL, and it fulfilled a clear and intensely felt need of developers around the world. Since that time, resources—books, development environments, utilities, and web sites—for PL/SQL programmers have proliferated. (Of course, this book is still by far the most important and valuable of these resources!)

The following sections describe very briefly many of these resources. By taking full advantage of these resources, many of which are available either free or at a relatively low cost, you will greatly improve your development experience (and resulting code).

The O’Reilly PL/SQL Series

Over the years, the Oracle PL/SQL series from O’Reilly & Associates has grown to include quite a long list of books. We’ve summarized the whole set below. Please check out the Oracle area of the O’Reilly web site (http://oracle.oreilly.com) for much more complete information.

Oracle PL/SQL Programming, by Steven Feuerstein with Bill Pribyl

The thousand-page tome you are reading now. The desk-side companion of a great many professional PL/SQL programmers, this book is designed to cover every feature in the core PL/SQL language. The second edition covered Oracle versions through Oracle8, but this third edition covers all PL/SQL versions through Oracle9i.

Learning Oracle PL/SQL, by Bill Pribyl with Steven Feuerstein

A comparatively gentle introduction to the language, ideal for new programmers and those who know a language other than PL/SQL.

Oracle PL/SQL Best Practices, by Steven Feuerstein

A relatively short book that describes more than 100 best practices that will help you produce high-quality PL/SQL code. Having this book is kind of like having a “lessons learned” document written by an in-house PL/SQL expert. Current through Oracle8i.

Oracle PL/SQL Developer’s Workbook, by Steven Feuerstein with Andrew Odewahn

Contains a series of questions and answers intended to help the PL/SQL programmer develop and test his or her understanding of the language. Current through Oracle8i.

Oracle PL/SQL Language Pocket Reference, by Steven Feuerstein, Bill Pribyl, and Chip Dawes (covers Oracle 8i) , Oracle PL/SQL Built-ins Pocket Reference, by Steven Feuerstein, John Beresniewicz, and Chip Dawes (covers Oracle 8)

Two tiny “quick reference” books that might actually fit in your coat pocket.

Oracle Built-in Packages, by Steven Feuerstein, Charles Dye, and John Beresniewicz

A reference guide to all of the prebuilt packages that Oracle supplies with the core database server. The use of these packages can sometimes simplify the difficult and tame the impossible. Current through Oracle8.

Oracle PL/SQL Programming: Guide to Oracle8i Features, by Steven Feuerstein

A companion to the Oracle PL/SQL Programming book that presents an overview of the great new PL/SQL features that appeared in Oracle8i.

Advanced Oracle PL/SQL Programming with Packages, by Steven Feuerstein

A book designed to communicate the rationale and means of improving your programs by writing your own PL/SQL packages. Covers Oracle7.

Oracle Web Applications: PL/SQL Developer’s Introduction, by Andrew Odewahn

A good book to get Oracle developers started building database-driven web applications. Includes some introductory material on both PL/SQL and programming for the Web. Current through Oracle8i.

Oracle PL/SQL CD Bookshelf

Contains an electronic version of most of the above books, plus a hardcopy version of the Guide to Oracle8i Features. Current through Oracle8i.

Other Printed Resources

In addition to the O’Reilly books listed in the previous section, there are other printed resources you should be aware of:

Oracle documentation

Oracle has come a long, long way from its early days of scattered and inadequate product documentation. The HTML documents that come with the RDBMS are an excellent source of information on the incredible array of technologies now offered by Oracle.

Oracle Press and other publishers

Oracle Press offers its own PL/SQL series by Scott Urman. Other technical publishers offer introductory texts for PL/SQL or include coverage of PL/SQL within broader Oracle-related books.

Oracle Professional from Pinnacle Publishing

This monthly, printed newsletter (with accompanying online edition) offers in-depth articles on Oracle technology. Each issue features a PL/SQL article (usually written by Steven Feuerstein) that explores either new features or applications of PL/SQL technology.


Oracle Magazine from Oracle Corporation

A monthly publication that covers a wide variety of Oracle technology, Oracle Magazine often introduces new PL/SQL functionality and gives you a solid foundation for understanding how all the Oracle pieces fit together.


PL/SQL on the Internet

There are also some excellent web sites available to PL/SQL programmers:

Oracle Technology Network

Join the Oracle Technology Network (OTN), sometimes called TechNet, which “provides services and resources that developers need to build, test, and deploy applications” based on Oracle technology. Boasting membership in the millions, OTN is a great place to download Oracle software, documentation, and lots of sample code. Check out:


or the PL/SQL page more specifically:


PL/SQL Pipeline

We also recommend that you join the PL/SQL Pipeline, described as “a free Internet portal community hosted by Quest Software. This site is designed to inform, educate, and inspire IT professionals around the world. The Pipeline is regularly monitored by a host of industry-recognized authors and experts.” The PL/SQL Pipeline offers archives of training materials and useful code. The Pipetalk forum features many active discussions and, in essence, free consulting for developers and DBAs around the world.



PLNet.org is a repository of open source software, maintained by Bill Pribyl, that is written in PL/SQL or is otherwise for the benefit of PL/SQL developers. You can read more about the project’s background or check out the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions). You will also be directed to a number of utilities, such as utPLSQL, the unit-testing framework for PL/SQL developers.


Open Directory Project

Courtesy of the “dmoz” (Directory Mozilla) project, you can find a choice set of links to PL/SQL sites. There is also a subcategory called “Tools” with a fairly comprehensive set of links to both commercial and noncommercial developer tools. Links on these pages are maintained by a team of volunteer editors, currently including Bill Pribyl.


Oracle FAQ

This site offers “independent and useful information on Oracle products to the Oracle community. On this site you will find FAQs, Scripts, Tips, News, Jobs, Directories, Message forums, Chat boards, and many more features to make your journey with Oracle more worthwhile.”


Development Tools and Utilities

If you currently write your software in Notepad and then run and test code exclusively in SQL*Plus, you are wasting dozens (if not hundreds) of hours of your time—prime development time—each year. If you continue to debug your programs by inserting endless numbers of calls to DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE, you are missing out on the ease of use and effectiveness of source code debuggers.

Today, there is a plethora of tools available to PL/SQL developers to help get our work done more effectively. These tools range from commercial, high-end integrated development environments (IDEs), to inexpensive replacements for SQL*Plus, to single-purpose utilities.

It is not within the scope of this book to provide a review of these tools, nor will we recommend any particular tools. However, the following list offers a smattering of products and URLs that will get you started in exploring the possibilities:

TOAD (Tool for Oracle Application Developers)

The most popular of all the PL/SQL IDEs, TOAD is famous for its tabbed browser and “Swiss Army Knife” approach. Available in both commercial and freeware versions.


SQL Navigator

Also from Quest, this IDE has been around a long time—and it shows in the depth of its support for PL/SQL and Java programming in the database.


PL/SQL Developer

A fine and relatively inexpensive entry from the Netherlands, PL/SQL Developer offers a large number of features in a very nicely designed package. It also allows third-party developers to provide plug-ins to extend the base product’s functionality.


TOra (Toolkit for Oracle)

This toolkit includes a browser, PL/SQL editor, and debugger for Linux or Microsoft Windows. TOra is available in open source and commercial forms.


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