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

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Forward Declarations

PL/SQL requires that you declare elements before using them in your code. Otherwise, how can PL/SQL be sure that the way you are using the construct is appropriate? Because modules can call other modules, however, you may encounter situations where it is completely impossible to define all modules before any references to those modules are made. What if program A calls program B and program B calls program A? PL/SQL supports recursion, including mutual recursion, in which two or more programs directly or indirectly call each other.

If you find yourself committed to mutual recursion, you will be very glad to hear that PL/SQL supports the forward declaration of local modules, which means that modules are declared in advance of the actual definition of that program. This declaration makes that program available to be called by other programs even before the program definition.

Remember that both procedures and functions have a header and a body. A forward declaration consists simply of the program header followed by a semicolon (;). This construction is called the module header. This header, which must include the parameter list (and a RETURN clause if it’s a function), is all the information PL/SQL needs about a module in order to declare it and resolve any references to it.

The following example illustrates the technique of forward declaration. I define two mutually recursive functions within a procedure. Consequently, I have to declare just the header of my second ...

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