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).
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.
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.
A comparatively gentle introduction to the language, ideal for new programmers and those who know a language other than PL/SQL.
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.
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.
Two tiny “quick reference” books that might actually fit in your coat pocket.
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.
A companion to the Oracle PL/SQL Programming book that presents an overview of the great new PL/SQL features that appeared in Oracle8i.
A book designed to communicate the rationale and means of improving your programs by writing your own PL/SQL packages. Covers Oracle7.
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.
Contains an electronic version of most of the above books, plus a hardcopy version of the Guide to Oracle8i Features. Current through Oracle8i.
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 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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.”
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:
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.
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.
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.
This toolkit includes a browser, PL/SQL editor, and debugger for Linux or Microsoft Windows. TOra is available in open source and commercial forms.