This chapter provides basic information about working with objects. It explains what object types and methods are, and describes how to create and work with a hierarchy of object types that are derived from a shared root type and are connected by inheritance.
This chapter contains these topics:
This section describes SQL object types and references, including:
You can create a SQL object type with the
TYPE statement. An example of creating an object type is shown in Example 2-1. For information on the
TYPE SQL statement, see Oracle Database SQL Reference. For information on the
BODY SQL statement, see Oracle Database SQL Reference.
A table column, object attribute, collection, or collection element is
NULL if it has been initialized to
NULL or has not been initialized at all. Usually, a
NULL value is replaced by an actual value later on.
An object whose value is
NULL is called atomically null. An atomically null object is different from one that simply happens to have null values for all its attributes. When all the attributes of an object are null, these attributes can still be changed, and the object's methods can be called. With an atomically null object, you can do neither of these things. In Example 2-1, consider the
contacts table which contains the
person_typ object type.
CREATE TYPE person_typ AS OBJECT ( idno NUMBER, name VARCHAR2(30), phone VARCHAR2(20), MAP MEMBER FUNCTION get_idno RETURN NUMBER, MEMBER PROCEDURE display_details ( SELF IN OUT NOCOPY person_typ ) ); / CREATE TYPE BODY person_typ AS MAP MEMBER FUNCTION get_idno RETURN NUMBER IS BEGIN RETURN idno; END; MEMBER PROCEDURE display_details ( SELF IN OUT NOCOPY person_typ ) IS BEGIN -- use the PUT_LINE procedure of the DBMS_OUTPUT package to display details DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(TO_CHAR(idno) || ' - ' || name || ' - ' || phone); END; END; / CREATE TABLE contacts ( contact person_typ, contact_date DATE ); INSERT INTO contacts VALUES ( person_typ (NULL, NULL, NULL), '24 Jun 2003' ); INSERT INTO contacts VALUES ( NULL, '24 Jun 2003' );
The two INSERT statements give two different results. In both cases, Oracle allocates space in
contacts for a new row and sets its
DATE column to the value given. But in the first case, Oracle allocates space for an object in the
contact column and sets each of the object's attributes to
NULL. In the second case, Oracle sets the
person_typ field itself to
NULL and does not allocate space for an object.
In some cases, you can omit checks for null values. A table row or row object cannot be null. A nested table of objects cannot contain an element whose value is
A nested table or array can be null, so you do need to handle that condition. A null collection is different from an empty one, that is, a collection containing no elements.
Lengths for character types
VARCHAR2 may be specified as a number of characters, instead of bytes, in object attributes and collections even if some of the characters consist of multiple bytes.
To specify character-denominated lengths for
VARCHAR2 attributes, you add a qualifier
char to the length specification.
NVARCHAR2 may also be used as attribute types in objects and collections. These types are always implicitly measured in terms of characters, so no
char qualifier is used.
For example, the following statement creates an object with both a character-length
VARCHAR2 attribute and an
CREATE TYPE employee_typ AS OBJECT ( name VARCHAR2(30 char), language NCHAR(10), phone VARCHAR2(20) ); /
VARCHAR2 attributes whose length is specified without a char qualifier, the default unit of measure characters or bytes is determined by whether the
NLS_LENGTH_SEMANTICS initialization parameter is set to
See Also:Oracle Database Globalization Support Guide for information on character length semantics
You can define constraints on an object table just as you can on other tables. You can define constraints on the leaf-level scalar attributes of a column object, with the exception of
REFs that are not scoped.
CREATE TYPE location_typ AS OBJECT ( building_no NUMBER, city VARCHAR2(40) ); / CREATE TYPE office_typ AS OBJECT ( office_id VARCHAR(10), office_loc location_typ, occupant person_typ );/ CREATE TABLE office_tab OF office_typ ( office_id PRIMARY KEY );
department_mgrs table in Example 2-4 has a column whose type is the object type
location_typ defined in Example 2-3. The example defines constraints on scalar attributes of the
location_typ objects that appear in the
dept_loc column of the table.
CREATE TABLE department_mgrs ( dept_no NUMBER PRIMARY KEY, dept_name CHAR(20), dept_mgr person_typ, dept_loc location_typ, CONSTRAINT dept_loc_cons1 UNIQUE (dept_loc.building_no, dept_loc.city), CONSTRAINT dept_loc_cons2 CHECK (dept_loc.city IS NOT NULL) ); INSERT INTO department_mgrs VALUES ( 101, 'Physical Sciences', person_typ(65,'Vrinda Mills', '1-800-555-4412'), location_typ(300, 'Palo Alto'));
You can define indexes on an object table or on the storage table for a nested table column or attribute just as you can on other tables. For an example of an index on a nested table, see Example 3-4.
You can define indexes on leaf-level scalar attributes of column objects, as shown in Example 2-5. You can only define indexes on
REF attributes or columns if the
REF is scoped. Here,
dept_addr is a column object, and
city is a leaf-level scalar attribute of
dept_addr that we want to index.
CREATE TABLE department_loc ( dept_no NUMBER PRIMARY KEY, dept_name CHAR(20), dept_addr location_typ ); CREATE INDEX i_dept_addr1 ON department_loc (dept_addr.city); INSERT INTO department_loc VALUES ( 101, 'Physical Sciences', location_typ(300, 'Palo Alto')); INSERT INTO department_loc VALUES ( 104, 'Life Sciences', location_typ(400, 'Menlo Park')); INSERT INTO department_loc VALUES ( 103, 'Biological Sciences', location_typ(500, 'Redwood Shores'));
Wherever Oracle expects a column name in an index definition, you can also specify a scalar attribute of an object column.
You can define triggers on an object table just as you can on other tables. You cannot define a trigger on the storage table for a nested table column or attribute. You cannot modify
LOB values in a trigger body. Otherwise, there are no special restrictions on using object types with triggers.
CREATE TABLE movement ( idno NUMBER, old_office location_typ, new_office location_typ ); CREATE TRIGGER trigger1 BEFORE UPDATE OF office_loc ON office_tab FOR EACH ROW WHEN (new.office_loc.city = 'Redwood Shores') BEGIN IF :new.office_loc.building_no = 600 THEN INSERT INTO movement (idno, old_office, new_office) VALUES (:old.occupant.idno, :old.office_loc, :new.office_loc); END IF; END;/ INSERT INTO movement VALUES ( 101, location_typ(300, 'Palo Alto'), location_typ(400, 'Menlo Park'));
In Oracle, a
REF column or attribute can be unconstrained or constrained using a
SCOPE clause or a referential constraint clause. When a
REF column is unconstrained, it may store object references to row objects contained in any object table of the corresponding object type.
Oracle does not ensure that the object references stored in such columns point to valid and existing row objects. Therefore,
REF columns may contain object references that do not point to any existing row object. Such
REF values are referred to as dangling references.
REF column may be constrained to be scoped to a specific object table. All the
REF values stored in a column with a
SCOPE constraint point at row objects of the table specified in the
SCOPE clause. The
REF values may, however, be dangling.
REF column may be constrained with a
REFERENTIAL constraint similar to the specification for foreign keys. The rules for referential constraints apply to such columns. That is, the object reference stored in these columns must point to a valid and existing row object in the specified object table.
KEY constraints cannot be specified for
REF columns. However, you can specify
NULL constraints for such columns.
Oracle SQL lets you omit qualifying table names in some relational operations. For example, if
dept_addr is a column in the
department_loc table and
old_office is a column in the
movement table, you can use the following:
SELECT * FROM department_loc WHERE EXISTS (SELECT * FROM movement WHERE dept_addr = old_office);
Oracle determines which table each column belongs to.
SELECT * FROM department_loc WHERE EXISTS (SELECT * FROM movement WHERE department_loc.dept_addr = movement.old_office); SELECT * FROM department_loc d WHERE EXISTS (SELECT * FROM movement m WHERE d.dept_addr = m.old_office);
In some cases, object-relational features require you to specify the table aliases.
Using unqualified names can lead to problems. If you add an
assignment column to
depts and forget to change the query, Oracle automatically recompiles the query such that the inner
SELECT uses the
assignment column from the
depts table. This situation is called inner capture.
To avoid inner capture and similar problems resolving references, Oracle requires you to use a table alias to qualify any dot-notational reference to methods or attributes of objects. Use of a table alias is optional when referencing top-level attributes of an object table directly, without using the dot notation.
For example, the following statements define two tables that contain the
person_typ object type.
person_obj_table is an object table for objects of type
contacts is a relational table that contains a column of an object type.
The following queries show some correct and incorrect ways to reference attribute
SELECT idno FROM person_obj_table; --Correct
SELECT contact.idno FROM contacts; --Illegal
SELECT contacts.contact.idno FROM contacts; --Illegal
SELECT p.contact.idno FROM contacts p; --Correct
In the first
idno is the name of a column of
person_obj_table. It references this top-level attribute directly, without using the dot notation, so no table alias is required.
In the second
idno is the name of an attribute of the
person_typ object in the column named
contact. This reference uses the dot notation and so requires a table alias, as shown in the fourth
SELECT uses the table name itself to qualify this the reference. This is incorrect; a table alias is required.
For example, the following expression tries to refer to the
dept_addr column, and
city attribute of that column. But the expression is incorrect because
department_loc is a table name, not an alias.
Table aliases should uniquely pick out the same table throughout a query and should not be the same as schema names that could legally appear in the query.
Note:Oracle recommends that you define table aliases in all
User-defined types (specifically, types declared with a SQL
TYPE statement, as opposed to types declared within a PL/SQL package) are currently useful only within a single database. You cannot use a database link to do any of the following:
You can use the
TYPE statement with the optional keyword
OID to create a user-specified object identifier (OID) that allows an object type to be used in multiple databases. See the discussion on assigning an OID to an object type in the Oracle Database Data Cartridge Developer's Guide.
Use database links within PL/SQL code to declare a local variable of a remote user-defined type
Convey a user-defined type argument or return value in a PL/SQL remote procedure call.
Methods are functions or procedures that you can declare in an object type definition to implement behavior that you want objects of that type to perform. An application calls the methods to invoke the behavior.
For example, you might declare a method
get_sum() to get a purchase order object to return the total cost of its line items. The following line of code calls such a method for purchase order
po and returns the amount into
sum_line_items = po.get_sum();
In SQL, the parentheses are required for all method calls. Unlike with PL/SQL functions and procedures, SQL requires parentheses for method calls that do not have arguments.
Methods can be written in PL/SQL or virtually any other programming language. Methods written in PL/SQL or Java are stored in the database. Methods written in other languages, such as C, are stored externally.
The topics described in this section are:
Member methods are the means by which an application gains access to an object instance's data. You define a member method in the object type for each operation that you want an object of that type to be able to perform. For example, the method
get_sum() that sums the total cost of a purchase order's line items operates on the data of a particular purchase order and is a member method.
Member methods have a built-in parameter named
SELF that denotes the object instance on which the method is currently being invoked. Member methods can reference the attributes and methods of
SELF without a qualifier. This makes it simpler to write member methods. In Example 2-8 the code shows a method declaration that takes advantage of
SELF to omit qualification of the attributes
CREATE TYPE solid_typ AS OBJECT ( len INTEGER, wth INTEGER, hgt INTEGER, MEMBER FUNCTION surface RETURN INTEGER, MEMBER FUNCTION volume RETURN INTEGER, MEMBER PROCEDURE display (SELF IN OUT NOCOPY solid_typ) ); / CREATE TYPE BODY solid_typ AS MEMBER FUNCTION volume RETURN INTEGER IS BEGIN RETURN len * wth * hgt; -- RETURN SELF.len * SELF.wth * SELF.hgt; -- equivalent to previous line END; MEMBER FUNCTION surface RETURN INTEGER IS BEGIN -- not necessary to include SELF prefix in following line RETURN 2 * (len * wth + len * hgt + wth * hgt); END; MEMBER PROCEDURE display (SELF IN OUT NOCOPY solid_typ) IS BEGIN DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('Length: ' || len || ' - ' || 'Width: ' || wth || ' - ' || 'Height: ' || hgt); DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('Volume: ' || volume || ' - ' || 'Surface area: ' || surface); END; END; /
SELF does not need to be explicitly declared, although it can be. It is always the first parameter passed to the method.
In member functions, if
SELF is not declared, its parameter mode defaults to
You can invoke a member method using the dot notation
object_variable.method(). This notation specifies the object on which to invoke the method, then the method to call. Any parameters must be placed inside the required parentheses. See also "Using SELF IN OUT NOCOPY with Member Procedures".
The values of a scalar datatype such as
REAL have a predefined order, which allows them to be compared. But an object type, such as a
person_typ, which can have multiple attributes of various datatypes, has no predefined axis of comparison. To be able to compare and order variables of an object type, you must specify a basis for comparing them. Two special kinds of member methods can be defined for doing this: map methods and order methods.
A map method is an optional kind of method that provides a basis for comparing objects by mapping object instances to one of the scalar types
VARCHAR2 or to an ANSI SQL type such as
REAL. With a map method, you can order any number of objects by calling each object's map method once to map that object to a position on the axis used for the comparison, such as a number or date. Example 2-1 contains a simple map method.
From the standpoint of writing one, a map method is simply a parameter-less member function that uses the
MAP keyword and returns one of the datatypes just listed. What makes a map method special is that, if an object type defines one, the method is called automatically to evaluate such comparisons as
obj_2 and comparisons implied by the
BY clauses which require sorting by rows.
obj_2 are two object variables that can be compared using a map method
map(), the comparison:
obj_1 > obj_2
is equivalent to:
obj_1.map() > obj_2.map()
And similarly for other relational operators besides the greater than (
The following example defines a map method
area() that provides a basis for comparing rectangle objects by their area:
CREATE TYPE rectangle_typ AS OBJECT ( len NUMBER, wid NUMBER, MAP MEMBER FUNCTION area RETURN NUMBER); / CREATE TYPE BODY rectangle_typ AS MAP MEMBER FUNCTION area RETURN NUMBER IS BEGIN RETURN len * wid; END area; END; /
An object type can declare at most one map method or one order method. A subtype can declare a map method only if its root supertype declares one. See "Equal and Not Equal Comparisons" for the use of map methods when comparing collections that contain object types.
Order methods make direct object-to-object comparisons. Unlike map methods, they cannot map any number of objects to an external axis. They simply tell you that the current object is less than, equal to, or greater than the other object that it is being compared to, with respect to the criterion used by the method.
An order method is a function with one declared parameter for another object of the same type. The method must be written to return either a negative number, zero, or a positive number. The return signifies that the object picked out by the
SELF parameter is respectively less than, equal to, or greater than the other parameter's object.
As with map methods, an order method, if one is defined, is called automatically whenever two objects of that type need to be compared.
Order methods are useful where comparison semantics may be too complex to use a map method. For example, to compare binary objects such as images, you might create an order method to compare the images by their brightness or number of pixels.
An object type can declare at most one order method or one map method. Only a type that is not derived from another type can declare an order method; a subtype cannot define one.
Example 2-10 shows an order method that compares locations by building number:
CREATE TYPE location_typ AS OBJECT ( building_no NUMBER, city VARCHAR2(40), ORDER MEMBER FUNCTION match (l location_typ) RETURN INTEGER );/ CREATE TYPE BODY location_typ AS ORDER MEMBER FUNCTION match (l location_typ) RETURN INTEGER IS BEGIN IF building_no < l.building_no THEN RETURN -1; -- any negative number will do ELSIF building_no > l.building_no THEN RETURN 1; -- any positive number will do ELSE RETURN 0; END IF; END; END;/
You can declare a map method or an order method but not both. If you declare a method of either type, you can compare objects in SQL and procedural statements. However, if you declare neither method, you can compare objects only in SQL statements and only for equality or inequality. Two objects of the same type count as equal only if the values of their corresponding attributes are equal.
When sorting or merging a large number of objects, use a map method. One call maps all the objects into scalars, then sorts the scalars. An order method is less efficient because it must be called repeatedly (it can compare only two objects at a time). See "Performance of Object Comparisons".
In a type hierarchy, where definitions of specialized types are derived from definitions of more general types, only the root type—the most basic type, from which all other types are derived—can define an order method. If the root type does not define one, its subtypes cannot define one either.
If the root type specifies a map method, any of its subtypes can define a map method that overrides the map method of the root type. But if the root type does not specify a map method, no subtype can specify one either.
So if the root type does not specify either a map or an order method, none of the subtypes can specify either a map or order method. See "Inheritance in SQL Object Types" and "Inheriting, Overloading, and Overriding Methods".
Static methods are invoked on the object type, not its instances. You use a static method for operations that are global to the type and do not need to reference the data of a particular object instance. A static method has no
You invoke a static method by using the dot notation to qualify the method call with the name of the object type, such as:
See "Static Methods" for information on design considerations.
Every object type has a constructor method implicitly defined for it by the system. A constructor method is a function that returns a new instance of the user-defined type and sets up the values of its attributes. The system implicitly defines a constructor function called the attribute value constructor for all object types that have attributes.
person_typ object type that is defined in Example 2-1. The name of the constructor method is simply the name of the object type, as shown in the following:
person_typ (1, 'John Smith', '1-800-555-1212'),
CREATE TABLE people_tab OF person_typ; INSERT INTO people_tab VALUES ( person_typ(101, 'John Smith', '1-800-555-1212') );
You can also define constructor functions of your own called user-defined constructors to create and initialize objects of such types. Attribute value constructors are convenient to use because they already exist, but user-defined constructors have some important advantages with respect to type evolution. See "Advantages of User-Defined Constructors" for information on user-defined constructors and their advantages. See "Constructor Methods for Collections" for information on user-defined constructors for collections.
You can use PL/SQL to invoke external subprograms that have been written in other languages. This provides access to the strengths and capabilities of those languages.
See Also:Oracle Database PL/SQL User's Guide and Reference for information on external implemented methods
Object types enable you to model the real-world entities such as customers and purchase orders that your application works with. But this is just the first step in exploiting the capabilities of objects. With objects, you cannot only model an entity such as a customer, you can also define different specialized types of customers in a type hierarchy under the original type. You can then perform operations on a hierarchy and have each type implement and execute the operation in a special way.
A type hierarchy is a sort of family tree of object types. It consists of a parent base type, called a supertype, and one or more levels of child object types, called subtypes, derived from the parent.
Subtypes in a hierarchy are connected to their supertypes by inheritance. This means that subtypes automatically acquire the attributes and methods of their parent type. It also means that subtypes automatically acquire any changes made to these attributes or methods in the parent: any attributes or methods updated in a supertype are updated in subtypes as well.
A subtype becomes a specialized version of the parent type by adding new attributes and methods to the set inherited from the parent or by redefining methods it inherits. Redefining an inherited methods gives a subtype its own way of executing the method. Add to this that an object instance of a subtype can generally be substituted for an object instance of any of its supertypes in code, and you have polymorphism.
Polymorphism is the ability of a slot for a value in code to contain a value of either a certain declared type or any of a range of the declared type's subtypes. A method called on whatever value occupies the slot may execute differently depending on the value's type because the various types might implement the method differently.
A subtype can be derived from a supertype either directly, or indirectly through intervening levels of other subtypes. A subtype can directly derive only from a single supertype: it cannot derive jointly from more than one. A supertype can have multiple sibling subtypes, but a subtype can have at most one direct parent supertype. In other words, Oracle supports only single inheritance, not multiple inheritance.
A subtype is derived from a supertype by defining a specialized variant of the supertype. For example, from a
person_typ object type you might derive the specialized types
employee_typ. Each of these subtypes is still at bottom a
person_typ, but a special kind of person. What makes a subtype special and distinguishes it from its parent supertype is some change made in the subtype to the attributes or methods that the subtype received from its parent.
An object type's attributes and methods make the type what it is: they are its essential, defining features. If a
person_typ object type has the three attributes
phone and the method
get_idno(), then any object type that is derived from
person_typ will have these same three attributes and a method
get_idno(). A subtype is a special case of its parent type, not a totally different kind of thing. As such, it shares with its parent type the features that make the general type what it is.
You can specialize the attributes or methods of a subtype in these ways:
Add new attributes that its parent supertype does not have.
For example, you might specialize
student_typ as a special kind of
person_typ by adding to its definition an attribute for
major. A subtype cannot drop or change the type of an attribute it inherited from its parent; it can only add new attributes.
Add entirely new methods that the parent does not have.
Change the implementation of some of the methods a subtype inherits from its parent so that the subtype's version executes different code from the parent's.
For example, a
shape object type might define a method
calculate_area(). Two subtypes of
circular_shape, might each implement this method in a different way. See "Inheriting, Overloading, and Overriding Methods".
Attributes and methods that a subtype gets from its parent type are said to be inherited. This means more than just that the attributes and methods are patterned on the parent's when the subtype is defined. With object types, the inheritance link remains live. Any changes made later on to the parent type's attributes or methods are also inherited so that the changes are reflected in the subtype as well. Unless a subtype reimplements an inherited method, it always contains the same core set of attributes and methods that are in the parent type, plus any attributes and methods that it adds.
Remember, a child type is not a different type from its parent; it is a particular kind of that type. If the general definition of
person_typ ever changes, the definition of
student_typ changes also.
The inheritance relationship that holds between a supertype and its subtypes is the source of both much of the power of objects and much of their complexity. It is a very powerful feature to be able to change a method in a supertype and have the change take effect in all the subtypes downstream just by recompiling. But this same capability means that you have to think about such things as whether you want to allow a type to be specialized or a method to be redefined. Similarly, it is a powerful feature for a table or column to be able to contain any type in a hierarchy, but then you must decide whether to allow this in a particular case, and you may need to constrain DML statements and queries so that they pick out from the type hierarchy just the range of types that you want. The following sections address these aspects of working with objects.
The definition of an object type determines whether subtypes can be derived from that type. To permit subtypes, the object type must be defined as not final. This is done by including the
FINAL keyword in its type declaration, as shown in Example 2-11.
CREATE TYPE person_typ AS OBJECT ( idno NUMBER, name VARCHAR2(30), phone VARCHAR2(20)) NOT FINAL; /
The preceding statement declares
person_typ to be a not final type such that subtypes of
person_typ can be defined. By default, an object type is declared as final and subtypes cannot be derived from it.
You can change a final type to a not final type and vice versa with an
TYPE statement. For example, the following statement changes
person_typ to a final type:
ALTER TYPE person_typ FINAL;
You can alter a type from
FINAL only if the target type has no subtypes.
Methods can also be declared to be final or not final. If a method is declared to be final, subtypes cannot override it by providing their own implementation. Unlike types, methods are not final by default and must be explicitly declared to be final.
Example 2-12 creates a not final type containing a final member function.
CREATE TYPE person_typ AS OBJECT ( idno NUMBER, name VARCHAR2(30), phone VARCHAR2(20), FINAL MAP MEMBER FUNCTION get_idno RETURN NUMBER) NOT FINAL; /
See "Redefining Methods".
You can create a subtype using a
TYPE statement that specifies the immediate parent of the subtype with an
UNDER clause. Example 2-13 shows the creation of the parent or supertype
person_typ object; Example 2-14, Example 2-15, and Example 2-16 show the definition of the subtypes.
Note the methods that are created in the supertype body of Example 2-13. In Example 2-14, Example 2-15, and Example 2-16, the
show() function of the parent type is overridden to specifications for each subtype. At the same time, the static
show_super() function is designed so that it can be called as it is in the supertype from every subtype under the
person_typ parent object.
CREATE TYPE person_typ AS OBJECT ( idno NUMBER, name VARCHAR2(30), phone VARCHAR2(20), MAP MEMBER FUNCTION get_idno RETURN NUMBER, STATIC FUNCTION show_super (person_obj in person_typ) RETURN VARCHAR2, MEMBER FUNCTION show RETURN VARCHAR2) NOT FINAL; / CREATE TYPE BODY person_typ AS MAP MEMBER FUNCTION get_idno RETURN NUMBER IS BEGIN RETURN idno; END; -- static function that can be called by subtypes STATIC FUNCTION show_super (person_obj in person_typ) RETURN VARCHAR2 IS BEGIN RETURN 'Id: ' || TO_CHAR(person_obj.idno) || ', Name: ' || person_obj.name; END; -- function that can be overriden by subtypes MEMBER FUNCTION show RETURN VARCHAR2 IS BEGIN RETURN person_typ.show_super ( SELF ); END; END; /
Example 2-14 creates
student_typ as a subtype of
person_typ. As a subtype of
student_typ inherits all the attributes declared in or inherited by
person_typ and any methods inherited by
person_typ or declared in
The statement that defines
person_typ by adding two new attributes. In addition, the
show() function is overridden to display the new attribute
major. New attributes declared in a subtype must have names that are different from the names of any attributes or methods declared in any of its supertypes, higher up in its type hierarchy.
CREATE TYPE student_typ UNDER person_typ ( dept_id NUMBER, major VARCHAR2(30), OVERRIDING MEMBER FUNCTION show RETURN VARCHAR2) NOT FINAL; / CREATE TYPE BODY student_typ AS OVERRIDING MEMBER FUNCTION show RETURN VARCHAR2 IS BEGIN RETURN person_typ.show_super ( SELF ) || ' -- Major: ' || major ; END; END; /
A type can have multiple child subtypes, and these can also have subtypes. Example 2-15 creates another subtype
CREATE TYPE employee_typ UNDER person_typ ( emp_id NUMBER, mgr VARCHAR2(30), OVERRIDING MEMBER FUNCTION show RETURN VARCHAR2); / CREATE TYPE BODY employee_typ AS OVERRIDING MEMBER FUNCTION show RETURN VARCHAR2 IS BEGIN RETURN person_typ.show_super ( SELF ) || ' -- Employee Id: ' || TO_CHAR(emp_id) || ', Manager: ' || mgr ; END; END; /
A subtype can be defined under another subtype. Again, the new subtype inherits all the attributes and methods that its parent type has, both declared and inherited. Example 2-16 defines a new subtype
student_typ. The new subtype inherits all the attributes and methods of
student_typ and adds another attribute.
CREATE TYPE part_time_student_typ UNDER student_typ ( number_hours NUMBER, OVERRIDING MEMBER FUNCTION show RETURN VARCHAR2); / CREATE TYPE BODY part_time_student_typ AS OVERRIDING MEMBER FUNCTION show RETURN VARCHAR2 IS BEGIN RETURN person_typ.show_super ( SELF ) || ' -- Major: ' || major || ', Hours: ' || TO_CHAR(number_hours); END; END; /
You can create a table that contains the supertype and subtypes and populate the table as shown with the
person_obj_table in Example 2-17.
CREATE TABLE person_obj_table OF person_typ; INSERT INTO person_obj_table VALUES (person_typ(12, 'Bob Jones', '111-555-1212')); INSERT INTO person_obj_table VALUES (student_typ(51, 'Joe Lane', '1-800-555-1312', 12, 'HISTORY')); INSERT INTO person_obj_table VALUES (employee_typ(55, 'Jane Smith', '1-800-555-7765', 100, 'Jennifer Nelson')); INSERT INTO person_obj_table VALUES (part_time_student_typ(52, 'Kim Patel', '1-800-555-1232', 14, 'PHYSICS', 20));
You can call the
show() function for the supertype and subtypes in the table with the following:
SELECT p.show() FROM person_obj_table p;
With the table populated as illustrated in Example 2-17, the output is similar to:
Note the overridden
show() function displays an output specific to the supertype or subtype while the results of the static
show_super() are constant.
A type can be declared to be
INSTANTIABLE. If a type is not instantiable, there is no constructor (default or user-defined) for it, and you cannot instantiate instances of that type (objects, in other words). You might use this option with types that you intend to use solely as supertypes of specialized subtypes that you do instantiate. The following pseudocode provides an example.
CREATE TYPE address_typ AS OBJECT(...)
NOT INSTANTIABLE NOT FINAL;
CREATE TYPE USaddress_typ UNDER address_typ(...);
CREATE TYPE Intladdress_typ UNDER address_typ(...);
A method can also be declared to be not instantiable. Use this option when you want to declare a method in a type without implementing the method there. A type that contains a non-instantiable method must itself be declared not instantiable, as shown in Example 2-18.
CREATE TYPE person_typ AS OBJECT ( idno NUMBER, name VARCHAR2(30), phone VARCHAR2(20), NOT INSTANTIABLE MEMBER FUNCTION get_idno RETURN NUMBER) NOT INSTANTIABLE NOT FINAL;/
A non-instantiable method serves as a placeholder. You might define a non-instantiable method when you expect every subtype to override the method in a different way. In such a case, there is no point in defining the method in the supertype.
If a subtype does not provide an implementation for every inherited non-instantiable method, the subtype itself, like the supertype, must be declared not instantiable. A non-instantiable subtype can be defined under an instantiable supertype.
You can alter an instantiable type to a non-instantiable type and vice versa with an
TYPE statement. In the following example, the
TYPE statement makes
CREATE TYPE person_typ AS OBJECT ( idno NUMBER, name VARCHAR2(30), phone VARCHAR2(20)) NOT INSTANTIABLE NOT FINAL;/ ALTER TYPE person_typ INSTANTIABLE;
You can alter an instantiable type to a non-instantiable type only if the type has no columns, views, tables, or instances that reference that type, either directly, or indirectly through another type or subtype.
You cannot declare a non-instantiable type to be
FINAL, which would be pointless anyway.
A subtype can redefine methods it inherits, and it can also add new methods. It can even add new methods that have the same names as methods it inherits, such that the subtype ends up containing more than one method with the same name.
Giving a type multiple methods with the same name is called method overloading. Redefining an inherited method to customize its behavior in a subtype is either overriding, in the case of member methods, or hiding, in the case of static methods.
Overloading is useful when you want to provide a variety of ways of doing something. For example, a shape object might overload a
draw() method with another
draw() method that adds a text label to the drawing and contains an argument for the label's text.
When a type has several methods with the same name, the compiler uses the methods' signatures to tell them apart. A method's signature is a sort of structural profile. It consists of the method's name and the number, types, and order of the method's formal parameters, including the implicit
self parameter. Methods that have the same name, but different signatures are called overloads when they exist in the same user-defined type.
In the following pseudocode, Subtype
MySubType_typ creates an overload of
CREATE TYPE MyType_typ AS OBJECT (...,
MEMBER PROCEDURE draw(x NUMBER), ...) NOT FINAL;
CREATE TYPE MySubType_typ UNDER MyType_typ (...,
MEMBER PROCEDURE draw(x VARCHAR2(20)),
STATIC FUNCTION bar(...)...
MySubType_typ contains two versions of
draw(). One is an inherited version with a
NUMBER parameter and the other has a
Overriding and hiding redefine an inherited method to make it do something different in the subtype. For example, a subtype
circular_shape derived from a
shape supertype might override a member method
calculate_area() to customize it specifically for calculating the area of a circle. For examples of overriding methods, see "Creating Subtypes With Overriding Methods".
Redefining a method is called overriding when the method that is redefined is a member method; redefining is called hiding when the redefined method is a static method. Overriding and hiding are similar in that, in either case, the version of the method redefined in the subtype eclipses an inherited version of the same name and signature such that the new version is executed instead of the inherited one whenever an instance of the subtype invokes the method. If the subtype itself has subtypes, these inherit the redefined method instead of the original version.
However, with overriding, the system relies on type information contained in the member method's implicit self argument to dynamically choose the correct version of the method to execute. With hiding, the correct version can be identified at compile time, and dynamic dispatch is not necessary. See "Dynamic Method Dispatch".
It is possible that a supertype may contain overloads of a method that is redefined in a subtype. Overloads of a method all have the same name, so the compiler uses the signature of the subtype's method to identify the particular version in the supertype that is superseded. This means that, to override or hide a method, you must preserve its signature.
A subtype that overrides a member method must signal the override with the
OVERRIDING keyword in the type definition. No such special keyword is required when a subtype hides a static method.
For example, in the following pseudocode, the subtype signals that it is overriding method
CREATE TYPE MyType_typ AS OBJECT (...,
MEMBER PROCEDURE Print(),
FINAL MEMBER FUNCTION function_mytype(x NUMBER)...
) NOT FINAL;
CREATE TYPE MySubType_typ UNDER MyType_typ (...,
OVERRIDING MEMBER PROCEDURE Print(),
As with new methods, you supply the declaration for a method that hides or overrides in a
You can override only methods that are not declared to be final in the supertype.
Order methods may appear only in the root type of a type hierarchy: they may not be redefined (overridden) in subtypes.
A static method in a subtype may not redefine a member method in the supertype.
A member method in a subtype may not redefine a static method in the supertype.
If a method being overridden provides default values for any parameters, then the overriding method must provide the same default values for the same parameters.
When implementing methods using PL/SQL, you cannot call a supertype object method with the
super keyword or an equivalent method in derived objects that have overriding methods. However, you can call a static supertype method as a workaround. See the examples in "Creating Subtypes With Overriding Methods" for the definition of the supertype and subtype functions.
As a result of method overriding, a type hierarchy can define multiple implementations of the same method. For example, in a hierarchy of the types
sphere_typ, each type might define a method
When such a method is invoked, the type of the object instance that invokes it is used to determine which implementation of the method to use. The call is then dispatched to that implementation for execution. This process of selecting a method implementation is called virtual or dynamic method dispatch because it is done at run time, not at compile time.
A method call is dispatched to the nearest implementation, working back up the inheritance hierarchy from the current or specified type. If the call invokes a member method of an object instance, the type of that instance is the current type, and the implementation defined or inherited by that type is used. If the call invokes a static method of a type, the implementation defined or inherited by that specified type is used.
For example, if
c1 is an object instance of
c1.proc() looks first for an implementation of
proc() defined in
circle_typ. If none is found, it looks up the supertype chain for an implementation in
ellipse_typ. The fact that
sphere_typ also defines an implementation is irrelevant because the type hierarchy is searched only upwards, toward the top. Subtypes of the current type are not searched.
Similarly, a call to a static method
circle_typ.bar() looks first in
circle_typ and then, if necessary, in the supertype(s) of
circle_typ. The subtype
sphere_typ is not searched.
See Also:Oracle Database PL/SQL User's Guide and Reference for information on how subprograms calls are resolved and the dynamic dispatch feature
When you work with types in a type hierarchy, sometimes you want to work at the most general level and, for example, select or update all persons. But sometimes you want to select or update only students, or only persons who are not students.
The (polymorphic) ability to select all persons and get back not only objects whose declared type is
person_typ but also objects whose declared subtype is
employee_typ is called substitutability. A supertype is substitutable if one of its subtypes can substitute or stand in for it in a slot (a variable, column, and so forth) whose declared type is the supertype.
In general, types are substitutable. Object attributes, collection elements and
REFs are substitutable. An attribute defined as a
REF, type, or collection of type
person_typ can hold a
REF to, an instance of, or instances of an instance of
person_typ or an instance of any subtype of
This is what you would expect, given that a subtype is, after all, just a specialized kind of any of its supertypes. Formally, though, a subtype is a type in its own right: it is not the same type as its supertype. A column that holds all persons, including all persons who are students and all persons who are employees, actually holds data of multiple types.
Substitutability comes into play in attributes, columns, and rows (namely, of an object view or object table) declared to be an object type, a
REF to an object type, or a collection type.
In principle, object attributes, collection elements and
REFs are always substitutable: there is no syntax at the level of the type definition to constrain their substitutability to some subtype. You can, however, turn off or constrain substitutability at the storage level, for specific tables and columns. See "Turning Off Substitutability in a New Table" and "Constraining Substitutability".
Object type columns are substitutable, and so are object-type rows in object tables and views. In other words, a column or row defined to be of type
t can contain instances of
t and any of its subtypes.
For example, consider the
person_typ type hierarchy introduced in "Creating Subtypes With Overriding Methods". An object table of
person_typ can contain rows of all three types. You insert an instance of a given type using the constructor for that type in the
VALUES clause of the
INSERT statement as shown in Example 2-17.
Similarly, in a relational table or view, a substitutable column of type
person_typ can contain instances of all three types. The following example inserts a person, a student, and a part-time student in the
CREATE TABLE contacts ( contact person_typ, contact_date DATE ); INSERT INTO contacts VALUES (person_typ (12, 'Bob Jones', '111-555-1212'), '24 Jun 2003' ); INSERT INTO contacts VALUES (student_typ(51, 'Joe Lane', '1-800-555-1312', 12, 'HISTORY'), '24 Jun 2003' ); INSERT INTO contacts VALUES (part_time_student_typ(52, 'Kim Patel', '1-800-555-1232', 14, 'PHYSICS', 20), '24 Jun 2003' );
A newly created subtype can be stored in any substitutable tables and columns of its supertype, including tables and columns that existed before the subtype was created.
SELECT TREAT(contact AS student_typ).major FROM contacts;
OBJECT_ID pseudocolumns allow you to access and identify the value and OID of a substitutable row in an object table as shown in Example 2-21.
CREATE TYPE student_typ UNDER person_typ ( dept_id NUMBER, major VARCHAR2(30), advisor person_typ); /
However, columns of such types are not substitutable. Similarly, a subtype
ST can have a collection attribute whose element type is one of
ST's supertypes, but, again, columns of such types are not substitutable. For example, if
student_typ had a nested table or varray of
student_typ column would not be substitutable.
You can, however, define substitutable columns of subtypes that have
REF attributes that reference supertypes. For example, the
composite_category_typ subtype shown in Example 2-21 contains the
subcategory_ref_list nested table. This table contains
subcategory_ref_list_typ which are REFs to
category_typ. The subtype was created as follows:
CREATE TYPE subcategory_ref_list_typ
AS TABLE OF REF category_typ;
CREATE TYPE composite_category_typ
REF columns and attributes are substitutable in both views and tables. For example, in either a view or a table, a column declared to be
REF person_typ can hold references to instances of
person_typ or any of its subtypes.
If you create a subtype, any table that already has substitutable columns of the supertype is automatically enabled to store the new subtype as well. This means that your options for creating subtypes are affected by the existence of such tables. If such a table exists, you can only create subtypes that are substitutable, that is, subtypes that Oracle can enable that table to store.
The following example shows an attempt to create a subtype
CREATE TYPE person_typ AS OBJECT ( idno NUMBER, name VARCHAR2(30), phone VARCHAR2(20)) NOT FINAL;/ CREATE TYPE employee_typ UNDER person_typ ( emp_id NUMBER, mgr VARCHAR2(30)); / CREATE TABLE person_obj_table (p person_typ);
The following statement fails because
student_typ has a supertype attribute, and table
person_obj_table has a substitutable column
p of the supertype.
CREATE TYPE student_typ UNDER person_typ ( -- incorrect CREATE subtype advisor person_typ); /
The following attempt succeeds. This version of the
student_typ subtype is substitutable. Oracle automatically enables table
person_obj_table to store instances of this new type.
CREATE TYPE student_typ UNDER person_typ ( dept_id NUMBER, major VARCHAR2(30));/ INSERT INTO person_obj_table VALUES (student_typ(51, 'Joe Lane', '1-800-555-1312', 12, 'HISTORY'));
For example, the following statement fails because an instance of
student_typ is stored in substitutable column
p of table
DROP TYPE student_typ VALIDATE -- incorrect DROP TYPE ;
To drop the type, first delete any of its instances in substitutable columns of the supertype:
DELETE FROM person_obj_table WHERE p IS OF (student_typ); DROP TYPE student_typ VALIDATE;
When creating a table, you can turn off all substitutability on a column or attribute, including embedded attributes and collections nested to any level, with the clause
In the following example, the clause confines column
office of a relational table to storing only
office_typ instances and disallows any subtype instances:
With object tables, the clause can be applied to the table as a whole, like this:
CREATE TABLE office_tab OF office_typ NOT SUBSTITUTABLE AT ALL LEVELS;
Alternatively, the clause can also be applied to turn off substitutability in a particular column that is, for a particular attribute of the object type of the table:
CREATE TABLE office_tab OF office_typ COLUMN occupant NOT SUBSTITUTABLE AT ALL LEVELS;
You can specify that the element type of a collection is not substitutable using syntax like the following:
CREATE TABLE people_tab ( people_column people_typ ) NESTED TABLE people_column NOT SUBSTITUTABLE AT ALL LEVELS STORE AS people_column_nt;
There is no mechanism to turn off substitutability for
You can impose a constraint that limits the range of subtypes permitted in an object column or attribute to a particular subtype in the declared type's hierarchy. You do this using an
For example, the following statement creates a table of
office_typ in which occupants are constrained to just those persons who are employees:
CREATE TABLE office_tab OF office_typ COLUMN occupant IS OF (ONLY employee_typ);
Although the type
office_typ allows authors to be of type
person_typ, the column declaration imposes a constraint to store only instances of
You can only use the
type operator to constrain row and column objects to a single subtype (not several), and you must use the
ONLY keyword, as in the preceding example.
You can use either
LEVELS to constrain an object column, but you cannot use both.
In an existing table, you can change an object column from
SUBSTITUTABLE (or from
SUBSTITUTABLE) by using an
TABLE statement. To do so, you specify the clause [
LEVELS for the particular column.
You can modify substitutability only for a specific column; you cannot modify substitutability for an object table as a whole.
The following statement makes column
ALTER TABLE dept_office MODIFY COLUMN office SUBSTITUTABLE AT ALL LEVELS;
The following statement makes the column not substitutable. Notice that it also uses the
FORCE keyword. This keyword causes any hidden columns containing typeid information or data for subtype attributes to be dropped:
ALTER TABLE dept_office MODIFY COLUMN office NOT SUBSTITUTABLE AT ALL LEVELS FORCE;
FORCE keyword is not used when a column is made not substitutable, the column and all attributes of the type must be
FINAL or the
TABLE statement will fail.
VARRAY column can be modified from
SUBSTITUTABLE only if the element type of the varray is final itself and has no embedded types (in its attributes or in their attributes, and so on) that are not final.
See "Hidden Columns for Substitutable Columns and Tables" for more information about hidden columns for typeids and subtype attributes.
In an object table, you can modify substitutability for a column only if substitutability was not explicitly set at the table level, for the entire table, when the table was created.
For example, the following attempt to modify substitutability for column address succeeds because substitutability has not been explicitly turned on or off at the table level in the
CREATE TABLE office_tab OF office_typ; ALTER TABLE office_tab MODIFY COLUMN occupant NOT SUBSTITUTABLE AT ALL LEVELS FORCE;
However, in the following example, substitutability is explicitly set at the table level, so the attempt to modify the setting for column address fails:
CREATE TABLE office_tab OF office_typ NOT SUBSTITUTABLE AT ALL LEVELS; /* Following SQL statement generates an error: */ ALTER TABLE office_tab MODIFY COLUMN occupant SUBSTITUTABLE AT ALL LEVELS FORCE -- incorrect ALTER;
A column whose substitutability is already constrained by an
type operator cannot have its substitutability modified with a [
LEVELS clause. See "Constraining Substitutability" for information about
Substitutability is the ability of a subtype to stand in for one of its supertypes. An attempt to perform a substitution in the other direction, to substitute a supertype for a subtype, raises an error at compile time.
An assignment of a source of type
source_typ to a target of type
target_typ must be of one of the following two patterns:
target_typ are the same type
source_typ is a subtype of
Case 2 illustrates widening. Widening is an assignment in which the declared type of the source is more specific than the declared type of the target. For example, assigning an employee instance to a variable of person type.
Intuitively, the idea here is that you are regarding an employee as a person. An employee is a more narrowly defined, specialized kind of person, so you can put an employee in a slot meant for a person if you do not mind ignoring whatever extra specialization makes that person an employee. All employees are persons, so a widening assignment always works.
To illustrate widening, suppose that you have the following table:
TABLE T(pers_col person_typ, emp_col employee_typ,
The following assignments show widening. The assignments are valid unless
perscol has been defined to be not substitutable.
UPDATE T set pers_col = emp_col;
The following is a PL/SQL example:
DECLARE var1 person_typ; var2 employee_typ; BEGIN var2 := employee_typ(55, 'Jane Smith', '1-800-555-7765', 100, 'Jennifer Nelson'); var1 := var2; END; /
Besides widening, there is also narrowing. Narrowing is the reverse of widening. It involves regarding a more general, less specialized type of thing, such as a person, as a more narrowly defined type of thing, such as an employee. Not all persons are employees, so a particular assignment like this works only if the person in question actually happens to be an employee.
To do a narrowing assignment, you must use the
TREAT function to test that the source instance of the more general declared type is in fact an instance of the more specialized target type and can therefore be operated on as such. The TREAT function does a runtime check to confirm this and returns NULL if the source value the person in question is not of the target type or one of its subtypes.
For example, the following
UPDATE statement sets values of
person_typ in column
perscol into column
employee_typ. For each value in
perscol, the assignment succeeds only if that person is also an employee. If person George is not an employee,
NULL, and the assignment returns
UPDATE T set emp_col = TREAT(pers_col AS employee_typ);
The following statement attempts to do a narrowing assignment without explicitly changing the declared type of the source value. The statement will return an error:
UPDATE T set emp_col = pers_col;
In assignments of expressions of a collection type, the source and target must be of the same declared type. Neither widening nor narrowing is permitted. However, a subtype value can be assigned to a supertype collection. For example, suppose we have the following collection types:
CREATE TYPE person_set AS TABLE OF person_typ; / CREATE TYPE student_set AS TABLE OF student_typ; /
Expressions of these different collection types cannot be assigned to each other, but a collection element of
student_typ can be assigned to a collection of
DECLARE var1 person_set; var2 student_set; elem1 person_typ; elem2 student_typ; BEGIN -- var1 := var2; /* ILLEGAL - collections not of same type */ var1 := person_set (elem1, elem2); /* LEGAL : Element is of subtype */ END; /
This section discusses the comparison operators used in SQL conditions.
See Also:Oracle Database SQL Reference for information about using SQL conditions
Map methods and order methods provide the mechanism for comparing objects. You optionally define one or the other of these in an object type to specify the basis on which you want objects of that type to be compared. If a method of either sort is defined, it is called automatically whenever objects of that type or one of its subtypes need to be compared.
If a type does not define either a map method or an order method, object variables of that type can be compared only in SQL statements and only for equality or inequality. Two objects of the same type count as equal only if the values of their corresponding attributes are equal. See "Methods for Comparing Objects".
Several functions and operators are particularly useful for working with objects and references to objects:
Examples are given throughout this book.
In PL/SQL the
DEREF functions can appear only in a SQL statement. For information about SQL functions, see Oracle Database SQL Reference.
CREATE TYPE person_list_typ AS TABLE OF person_typ;/ SELECT CAST(COLLECT(contact) AS person_list_typ) FROM contacts;
For more information about the SQL
CAST function, see Oracle Database SQL Reference.
For more information about the SQL
CURSOR expression, see Oracle Database SQL Reference.
For example, the following statement returns
person_typ objects from the table
SELECT DEREF(c.contact_ref), c.contact_date FROM contacts_ref c;
For example, the following query retrieves all student instances (including any subtypes of students) stored in the
SELECT VALUE(p) FROM person_obj_table p WHERE VALUE(p) IS OF (student_typ);
For any object that is not of a specified subtype, or a subtype of a specified subtype,
FALSE. Subtypes of a specified subtype are just more specialized versions of the specified subtype. If you want to exclude such subtypes, you can use the
ONLY keyword. This keyword causes
OF to return
FALSE for all types except the specified types.
In the following example, the statement tests objects in object table
person_obj_table, which contains persons, employees, and students, and returns
REFs just to objects of the two specified person subtypes
student_typ, and their subtypes, if any:
SELECT REF(p) FROM person_obj_table p WHERE VALUE(p) IS OF (employee_typ, student_typ);
Here is a similar example in PL/SQL. The code does something if the person is an employee or student:
DECLARE var person_typ; BEGIN var := employee_typ(55, 'Jane Smith', '1-800-555-7765', 100, 'Jennifer Nelson'); IF var IS OF (employee_typ, student_typ) THEN DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('Var is an employee_typ or student_typ object.'); ELSE DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('Var is not an employee_typ or student_typ object.'); END IF; END; /
The following statement returns only students whose most specific or specialized type is
student_typ. If the table or view contains any objects of a subtype of
student_typ, such as
part_time_student_typ, these are excluded. The example uses the
TREAT function to convert objects that are students to
student_typ from the declared type of the view,
SELECT TREAT(VALUE(p) AS student_typ) FROM person_obj_table p WHERE VALUE(p) IS OF(ONLY student_typ);
To test the type of the object that a
REF points to, you can use the
DEREF function to dereference the
REF before testing with the
For example, if
contact_ref is declared to be
person_typ, you can get just the rows for students as follows:
SELECT * FROM contacts_ref WHERE DEREF(contact_ref) IS OF (student_typ);
For more information about the SQL
type condition, see Oracle Database SQL Reference.
REF function in a SQL statement takes as an argument a correlation name for an object table or view and returns a reference (a
REF) to an object instance from that table or view. The
REF function may return references to objects of the declared type of the table, view, or any of its subtypes. For example, the following statement returns the references to all persons, including references to students and employees, whose
idno attribute is 12:
For more information about the SQL
REF function, see Oracle Database SQL Reference.
The most specific type of an object instance is the type to which the instance belongs that is farthest removed from the root type. For example, if Tim is a part-time student, he is also a student and a person, but his most specific type is part-time student.
The function returns the typeids from the hidden type discriminant column that is associated with every substitutable column. The function returns a null typeid for a final, root type.
The syntax of the function is:
SYS_TYPEID may be used only with arguments of an object type. Its primary purpose is to make it possible to build an index on a hidden type discriminant column.
All types that do belong to a type hierarchy are assigned a non-null typeid that is unique within the type hierarchy. Types that do not belong to a type hierarchy have a null typeid.
Every type except a final root type belongs to a type hierarchy. A final root type has no types related to it by inheritance:
It cannot have subtypes derived from it because it is final
It is not itself derived from some other type because it is a root type, so it does not have any supertypes.
See "Hidden Columns for Substitutable Columns and Tables" for more information about type discriminant columns.
For an example of
SYS_TYPEID, consider the substitutable object table
person_typ is the root type of a hierarchy that has
student_typ as a subtype and
part_time_student_typ as a subtype of
student_typ. See Example 2-17.
The following query uses
SYS_TYPEID. It gets the
name attribute and typeid of the object instances in the
person_obj_table table. Each of the instances is of a different type:
SELECT name, SYS_TYPEID(VALUE(p)) typeid FROM person_obj_table p;
See "Hidden Columns for Substitutable Columns and Tables" for information about the type discriminant and other hidden columns. For more information about the SQL
TYPEID function, see Oracle Database SQL Reference.
Table functions are functions that produce a collection of rows, a nested table or a varray, that can be queried like a physical database table or assigned to a PL/SQL collection variable. You can use a table function like the name of a database table, in the
FROM clause of a query, or like a column name in the
SELECT list of a query.
A table function can take a collection of rows as input. An input collection parameter can be either a collection type, such as a
VARRAY or a PL/SQL table, or a
PIPELINED to instruct Oracle to return the results of a table function iteratively. A table function returns a nested table or varray collection type. You query table functions by using the
TABLE keyword before the function name in the
FROM clause of the query.
TREAT function does a runtime check to confirm that an expression can be operated on as if it were of a different specified type in the hierarchy normally, a subtype of the expression s declared type. In other words, the function attempts to treat a supertype instance as a subtype instance to treat a person as a student, for example. Whether this can be done in a given case depends on whether the person in question actually is a student (or student subtype, such as a part-time student). If the person is a student, then the person is returned as a student, with the additional attributes and methods that a student may have. If the person happens not to be a student,
NULL in SQL.
The two main uses of
In narrowing assignments, to modify the type of an expression so that the expression can be assigned to a variable of a more specialized type in the hierarchy: in other words, to set a supertype value into a subtype.
To access attributes or methods of a subtype of the declared type of a row or column
A substitutable object table or column of type
T has a hidden column for every attribute of every subtype of
T. These hidden columns are not listed by a
DESCRIBE statement, but they contain subtype attribute data.
TREAT enables you to access these columns.
The following example shows
TREAT used in an assignment where a column of person type is set into a column of employee type. For each row in
TREAT returns an employee type or
NULL, depending on whether the given person happens to be an employee.
UPDATE T set empcol = TREAT(perscol AS employee_typ);
In the next example,
TREAT returns all (and only)
student_typ instances from
person_obj_table of type
person_typ, a supertype of
student_typ. The statement uses
TREAT to modify the type of
SELECT TREAT(VALUE(p) AS student_typ) FROM person_obj_table p;
TREAT modification succeeds only if the most specific or specialized type of the value of p is
student_typ or one of its subtypes. If p is a person who is not a student, or if p is
NULL in SQL or, in PL/SQL, raises an exception.
You can also use
TREAT to modify the declared type of a
REF expression. For example:
SELECT TREAT(REF(p) AS REF student_typ) FROM person_obj_table p;
The previous example returns
REFs to all
student_typ instances. In SQL it returns
REFs for all person instances that are not students, and in PL/SQL it raises an exception.
Perhaps the most important use of
TREAT is to access attributes or methods of a subtype of a row or column's declared type. The following query retrieves the
major attribute of all persons, students and part-time students, who have this attribute.
NULL is returned for persons who are not students:
SELECT name, TREAT(VALUE(p) AS student_typ).major major FROM person_obj_table p;
The following query will not work because
major is an attribute of
student_typ but not of
person_typ, the declared type of table
SELECT name, VALUE(p).major major FROM person_obj_table p -- incorrect;
The following is a PL/SQL example:
DECLARE var person_typ; BEGIN var := employee_typ(55, 'Jane Smith', '1-800-555-7765', 100, 'Jennifer Nelson'); DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE(TREAT(var AS employee_typ).mgr); END; /
In a SQL statement, the
VALUE function takes as its argument a correlation variable (table alias) for an object table or object view and returns object instances corresponding to rows of the table or view. The
VALUE function may return instances of the declared type of the row or any of its subtypes. InExample 2-34 the query returns all persons, including students and employees, from table
To retrieve only part time students, that is, instances whose most specific type is
part_time_student_typ, use the
ONLY keyword to confine the selection:
SELECT VALUE(p) FROM person_obj_table p WHERE VALUE(p) IS OF (ONLY part_time_student_typ);
In the following example,
VALUE is used to update a object instance in an object table:
UPDATE person_obj_table p SET VALUE(p) = person_typ(12, 'Bob Jones', '1-800-555-1243') WHERE p.idno = 12;
See also Example 3-21, "Using VALUE to Update a Nested Table". For more information about the SQL
VALUE function, see Oracle Database SQL Reference.