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PL/SQL User's Guide and Reference
10g Release 1 (10.1)

Part Number B10807-01
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A package is a schema object that groups logically related PL/SQL types, items, and subprograms. Use packages when writing a set of related subprograms that form an application programming interface (API) that you or others might reuse. Packages have two parts: a specification (spec for short) and a body. For more information, see Chapter 9, " Using PL/SQL Packages".


Description of package_specification.gif follows
Description of the illustration package_specification.gif

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Description of the illustration package_body.gif

Keyword and Parameter Description


Determines whether all the packaged subprograms execute with the privileges of their definer (the default) or invoker, and whether their unqualified references to schema objects are resolved in the schema of the definer or invoker. For more information, see "Using Invoker's Rights Versus Definer's Rights (AUTHID Clause)".


Publishes a Java method or external C function in the Oracle data dictionary. It publishes the routine by mapping its name, parameter types, and return type to their SQL counterparts. For more information, see Oracle Database Java Developer's Guide and Oracle Database Application Developer's Guide - Fundamentals.


Declares a collection (nested table, index-by table, or varray). For the syntax of collection_declaration, see "Collections".


Defines a collection type using the datatype specifier TABLE or VARRAY.


Declares a constant. For the syntax of constant_declaration, see "Constants and Variables".


Defines the underlying implementation of an explicit cursor. For the syntax of cursor_body, see "Cursors".


Declares the interface to an explicit cursor. For the syntax of cursor_spec, see "Cursors".


Declares an exception. For the syntax of exception_declaration, see "Exceptions".


Implements a function. For the syntax of function_body, see "Functions".


Declares the interface to a function. For the syntax of function_spec, see "Functions".


Declares an object (instance of an object type). For the syntax of object_declaration, see "Object Types".


A package stored in the database. For naming conventions, see "Identifiers".


Pragma RESTRICT_REFERENCES, which checks for violations of "purity" rules. To be callable from SQL statements, a function must obey rules that control side effects. If any SQL statement inside the function body violates a rule, you get an error at run time (when the statement is parsed). For the syntax of the pragma, see "RESTRICT_REFERENCES Pragma".

The pragma asserts that a function does not read and/or write database tables and/or package variables. For more information about the purity rules and pragma RESTRICT_REFERENCES, see Oracle Database Application Developer's Guide - Fundamentals.


Marks a package as serially reusable, if its state is needed only for the duration of one call to the server (for example, an OCI call to the server or a server-to-server remote procedure call). For more information, see Oracle Database Application Developer's Guide - Fundamentals.


Implements a procedure. For the syntax of procedure_body, see "Procedures".


Declares the interface to a procedure. For the syntax of procedure_spec, see "Procedures".


Declares a user-defined record. For the syntax of record_declaration, see "Records".


Defines a record type using the datatype specifier RECORD or the attribute %ROWTYPE.


The schema containing the package. If you omit schema_name, Oracle assumes the package is in your schema.


Declares a variable. For the syntax of variable_declaration, see "Constants and Variables".

Usage Notes

You can use any Oracle tool that supports PL/SQL to create and store packages in an Oracle database. You can issue the CREATE PACKAGE and CREATE PACKAGE BODY statements interactively from SQL*Plus, or from an Oracle Precompiler or OCI host program.

You cannot define packages in a PL/SQL block or subprogram.

Most packages have a spec and a body. The spec is the interface to your applications; it declares the types, variables, constants, exceptions, cursors, and subprograms available for use. The body fully defines cursors and subprograms, and so implements the spec.

Only subprograms and cursors have an underlying implementation. If a spec declares only types, constants, variables, exceptions, and call specs, the package body is unnecessary. The body can still be used to initialize items declared in the spec:

   number_hired INTEGER;
END emp_actions;

   number_hired := 0;
END emp_actions;

You can code and compile a spec without its body. Once the spec has been compiled, stored subprograms that reference the package can be compiled as well. You do not need to define the package bodies fully until you are ready to complete the application. You can debug, enhance, or replace a package body without changing the package spec, which saves you from recompiling subprograms that call the package.

Cursors and subprograms declared in a package spec must be defined in the package body. Other program items declared in the package spec cannot be redeclared in the package body.

To match subprogram specs and bodies, PL/SQL does a token-by-token comparison of their headers. Except for white space, the headers must match word for word. Otherwise, PL/SQL raises an exception.

Variables declared in a package keep their values throughout a session, so you can set the value of a package variable in one procedure, and retrieve the same value in a different procedure.

Related Topics

Collections, Cursors, Exceptions, Functions, Procedures, Records