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Oracle PL/SQL Programming, 5th Edition by Bill Pribyl, Steven Feuerstein

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What Is PL/SQL?

Oracle’s PL/SQL language has several defining characteristics:

It is a highly structured, readable, and accessible language

If you are new to programming, PL/SQL is a great place to start. You will find that it is an easy language to learn and is rich with keywords and structure that clearly express the intent of your code. If you are experienced in other programming languages, you will very easily adapt to the new syntax.

It is a standard and portable language for Oracle development

If you write a PL/SQL procedure or function to execute from within the Oracle database sitting on your laptop, you can move that same procedure to a database on your corporate network and execute it there without any changes (assuming compatibility of Oracle versions, of course!). “Write once, run everywhere” was the mantra of PL/SQL long before Java appeared. For PL/SQL, though, “everywhere” means “everywhere there is an Oracle database.”

It is an embedded language

PL/SQL was not designed to be used as a standalone language, but instead to be invoked from within a host environment. So, for example, you can run PL/SQL programs from within the database (through, say, the SQL*Plus interface). Alternatively, you can define and execute PL/SQL programs from within an Oracle Developer form or report (this approach is called client-side PL/SQL). You cannot, however, create a PL/SQL executable that runs all by itself.

It is a high-performance, highly integrated database language

These days, you have a number of choices when it comes to writing software to run against the Oracle database. You can use Java and JDBC; you can use Visual Basic and ODBC; you can go with Delphi, C++, and so on. You will find, however, that it is easier to write highly efficient code to access the Oracle database in PL/SQL than it is in any other language. In particular, Oracle offers certain PL/SQL-specific enhancements such as the FORALL statement that can improve database performance by an order of magnitude or more.

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