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Oracle® Data Provider for .NET Developer's Guide
11g Release 1 (11.1)

B28375-01
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Connecting to Oracle Database

This section describes OracleConnection provider-specific features, including:

Connection String Attributes

Table 3-1 lists the supported connection string attributes.

Table 3-1 Supported Connection String Attributes

Connection String Attribute Description Default Value

Connection Lifetime

Maximum life time (in seconds) of the connection.

0

Connection Timeout

Maximum time (in seconds) to wait for a free connection from the pool.

15

Context Connection

Returns an implicit database connection if set to true.

Supported in a .NET stored procedure only

false

Data Source

Oracle Net Services Name, Connect Descriptor, or an easy connect naming that identifies the database to which to connect.

empty string

DBA Privilege

Administrative privileges: SYSDBA or SYSOPER.

empty string

Decr Pool Size

Number of connections that are closed when an excessive amount of established connections are unused.

1

Enlist

Controls the enlistment behavior and capabilities of a connection in context of COM+ transactions or System.Transactions.

true

HA Events

Enables ODP.NET connection pool to proactively remove connections from the pool when an Oracle RAC service, service member, or node goes down. Works with RAC, Data Guard, or a single database instance.

false

Load Balancing

Enables ODP.NET connection pool to balance work requests across Oracle RAC instances based on the load balancing advisory and service goal.

false

Incr Pool Size

Number of new connections to be created when all connections in the pool are in use.

5

Max Pool Size

Maximum number of connections in a pool.

100

Metadata Pooling

Caches metadata information.

True

Min Pool Size

Minimum number of connections in a pool.

1

Password

Password for the user specified by User Id.

empty string

Persist Security Info

Retrieval of the password in the connection string.

false

Pooling

Connection pooling.

true

Promotable Transaction

Indicates whether or not a transaction is local or distributed throughout its lifetime.

promotable

Proxy User Id

User name of the proxy user.

empty string

Proxy Password

Password of the proxy user.

empty string

Statement Cache Purge

Statement cache purged when the connection goes back to the pool.

false

Statement Cache Size

Statement cache enabled and cache size, that is, the maximum number of statements that can be cached.

10

User Id

Oracle user name.

empty string

Validate Connection

Validation of connections coming from the pool.

false


The following example uses connection string attributes to connect to Oracle Database:

// C#
 
using System;
using Oracle.DataAccess.Client; 
 
class ConnectionSample
{
  static void Main()
  {
    OracleConnection con = new OracleConnection();
 
    //using connection string attributes to connect to Oracle Database
    con.ConnectionString = "User Id=scott;Password=tiger;Data Source=oracle";
    con.Open();
    Console.WriteLine("Connected to Oracle" + con.ServerVersion);
    
    // Close and Dispose OracleConnection object
    con.Close();
    con.Dispose();
    Console.WriteLine("Disconnected");
  }
}
 

See Also:

Specifying the Data Source Attribute

This section describes different ways of specifying the data source attribute.

The following example shows a connect descriptor mapped to a TNS alias called sales in the tnsnames.ora file:

sales=
 (DESCRIPTION= 
  (ADDRESS= (PROTOCOL=tcp)(HOST=sales-server)(PORT=1521))
  (CONNECT_DATA= 
     (SERVICE_NAME=sales.us.acme.com)))

Using the TNS Alias

To connect as scott/tiger using the TNS Alias, a valid connection appears as follows:

"user id=scott;password=tiger;data source=sales";

Using the Connect Descriptor

ODP.NET also allows applications to connect without the use of the tnsnames.ora file. To do so, the entire connect descriptor can be used as the "data source".

The connection string appears as follows:

"user id=scott;password=tiger;data source=" + 
     "(DESCRIPTION=(ADDRESS=(PROTOCOL=tcp)" + 
     "(HOST=sales-server)(PORT=1521))(CONNECT_DATA="+
     "(SERVICE_NAME=sales.us.acme.com)))"

Using Easy Connect Naming Method

The easy connect naming method enables clients to connect to a database without any configuration.

Prior to using the easy connect naming method, make sure that EZCONNECT is specified by the NAMES.DIRECTORY_PATH parameter in the sqlnet.ora file as follows:

NAMES.DIRECTORY_PATH= (TNSNAMES, EZCONNECT)

With this enabled, ODP.NET allows applications to specify the "Data Source" attribute in the form of:

//host:[port]/[service_name]

Using the same example, some valid connection strings follow:

"user id=scott;password=tiger;data source=//sales-server:1521/sales.us.acme.com"
"user id=scott;password=tiger;data source=//sales-server/sales.us.acme.com" 
"user id=scott;password=tiger;data source=sales-server/sales.us.acme.com"

If the port number is not specified, 1521 is used by default.

See Also:

Oracle Net Services Administrator's Guide for details and requirements in the section Using Easy Connect Naming Method

Connection Pooling

ODP.NET connection pooling is enabled and disabled using the Pooling connection string attribute. By default, connection pooling is enabled. The following are ConnectionString attributes that control the behavior of the connection pooling service:

  • Connection Lifetime

  • Connection Timeout

  • Decr Pool Size

  • HA Events

  • Incr Pool Size

  • Load Balancing

  • Max Pool Size

  • Min Pool Size

  • Pooling

  • Validate Connection

Connection Pooling Example

The following example opens a connection using ConnectionString attributes related to connection pooling.

// C#
 
using System;
using Oracle.DataAccess.Client; 
 
 
class ConnectionPoolingSample
{
  static void Main()
  {
    OracleConnection con = new OracleConnection();
 
    //Open a connection using ConnectionString attributes
    //related to connection pooling.
    con.ConnectionString = 
      "User Id=scott;Password=tiger;Data Source=oracle;" + 
      "Min Pool Size=10;Connection Lifetime=120;Connection Timeout=60;" + 
      "Incr Pool Size=5; Decr Pool Size=2";
    con.Open();
    Console.WriteLine("Connection pool successfully created");
 
    // Close and Dispose OracleConnection object
    con.Close();
    con.Dispose();
    Console.WriteLine("Connection is placed back into the pool.");
  }
}

Using Connection Pooling

When connection pooling is enabled (the default), the Open and Close methods of the OracleConnection object implicitly use the connection pooling service, which is responsible for pooling and returning connections to the application.

The connection pooling service creates connection pools by using the ConnectionString property as a signature, to uniquely identify a pool.

If there is no existing pool with the exact attribute values as the ConnectionString property, the connection pooling service creates a new connection pool. If a pool already exists with the requested signature, a connection is returned to the application from that pool.

When a connection pool is created, the connection pooling service initially creates the number of connections defined by the Min Pool Size attribute of the ConnectionString property. This number of connections is always maintained by the connection pooling service for the connection pool.

At any given time, these connections are in use by the application or are available in the pool.

The Incr Pool Size attribute of the ConnectionString property defines the number of new connections to be created by the connection pooling service when more connections are needed in the connection pool.

When the application closes a connection, the connection pooling service determines whether or not the connection lifetime has exceeded the value of the Connection Lifetime attribute. If so, the connection pooling service closes the connection; otherwise, the connection goes back to the connection pool. The connection pooling service enforces the Connection Lifetime only when a connection is going back to the connection pool.

The Max Pool Size attribute of the ConnectionString property sets the maximum number of connections for a connection pool. If a new connection is requested, but no connections are available and the limit for Max Pool Size has been reached, then the connection pooling service waits for the time defined by the Connection Timeout attribute. If the Connection Timeout time has been reached, and there are still no connections available in the pool, the connection pooling service raises an exception indicating that the connection pool request has timed-out.

The Validate Connection attribute validates connections coming out of the pool. This attribute should be used only when absolutely necessary, because it causes a round-trip to the database to validate each connection immediately before it is provided to the application. If invalid connections are uncommon, developers can create their own event handler to retrieve and validate a new connection, rather than using the Validate Connection attribute. This generally provides better performance.

The connection pooling service closes connections when they are not used; connections are closed every 3 minutes. The Decr Pool Size attribute of the ConnectionString property provides connection pooling service for the maximum number of connections that can be closed every 3 minutes.

Connection Pool Management

ODP.NET connection pool management provides explicit connection pool control to ODP.NET applications. Applications can explicitly clear connections in a connection pool.

Using connection pool management, applications can do the following:

Note:

These APIs are not supported in a .NET stored procedure.
  • Clear connections from connection pools using the ClearPool method.

  • Clear connections in all the connection pools in an application domain, using the ClearAllPools method.

When connections are cleared from a pool, ODP.NET repopulates the pool with new connections that have at least the number of connections set by Min Pool Size in the connection string. New connections do not necessarily mean the pool will have valid connections. For example, if the database server is down when ClearPool or ClearAllPools is called, ODP.NET creates new connections, but these connections are still invalid because they cannot connect to the database, even if the database comes up a later time.

It is recommended that ClearPool and ClearAllPools not be called until the application can create valid connections back to the database. .NET developers can develop code that continuously checks whether or not a valid database connection can be created and calls ClearPool or ClearAllPools once this is true.

Connecting in Real Application Clusters (RAC) Database

This section discusses optimization and other aspects of connection and connection pooling for a Real Application Clusters (RAC) database. Oracle RAC is the technology that makes grids possible for Oracle database by providing the ability to access the database from multiple instances, each running on nodes in a cluster.

Connection Optimizations for Oracle RAC

Oracle Data Provider for .NET optimizes connection and connection pooling for Oracle RAC database by balancing work requests across Oracle RAC instances, based on the load balancing advisory and service goal. Furthermore, the ODP.NET connection pool can be enabled to proactively free resources associated with connections that have been severed due to a down Oracle RAC service, service member, or node.

Oracle Data Provider for .NET uses the following features to optimize connection and connection pooling for Oracle RAC:

  • Runtime Connection Load Balancing

    When Runtime Connection Load Balancing is enabled:

    • The ODP.NET connection pool dispenses connections based on the load balancing advisory and service goal.

    • The ODP.NET connection pool also balances the number of connections to each service member providing the service, based on the load balancing advisory and service goal.

    By default, this feature is disabled. To enable runtime connection load balancing, include "Load Balancing=true" in the connection string.

    This feature can only be used with an Oracle RAC database and only if "pooling=true". If "Load Balancing=true" is set and the connection attempts to connect to a non-RAC database, an OracleException is thrown with an error of "ORA-1031: insufficient privileges."

    In order to use Runtime Connection Load Balancing, specific RAC configurations must be set. For further information, see Oracle Database Oracle Real Application Clusters Administration and Deployment Guide. Oracle Net Services should also be configured for load balancing. See Oracle Net Services Administrator's Guide for further details.

    The following connection string example enables Runtime Connection Load Balancing:

    "user id=scott;password=tiger;data source=erp;load balancing=true;"
    
    
  • HA Events

    When HA events is enabled:

    • ODP.NET connection pool proactively removes connections from the pool when an Oracle service, service member, or node goes down.

    • ODP.NET establishes connections to existing Oracle RAC instances if the removal of severed connections bring the total number of connections below the "min pool size".

    By default this feature is disabled. To enable HA events, include "HA Events=true" in the connection string. This feature can only be used against a RAC database and only if "pooling=true". If the connection is established to a non-RAC database, the HA events setting is ignored and no error is returned.

    Note:

    The database service being connected to must be configured for AQ_HA_NOTIFICATIONS. For more details, see Oracle Database Oracle Real Application Clusters Administration and Deployment Guide

    The following connection string example enables HA Events:

    "user id=scott;password=tiger;data source=erp;HA events=true;"
    
    

Pool Size Attributes in an Oracle RAC Database

When connection pools are created for a non-RAC database, pool size attributes are applied to the single service. Similarly, when connection pools are created for an Oracle RAC database, the pool size attributes are applied to a service and not to service members. For example, if "Min Pool Size" is set to N, ODP.NET does not create N connections for each service member. Instead, it creates, at minimum, N connections for the entire service, where N connections are distributed among the service members.

The following pool size connection string attributes are applied to a service.

  • Min Pool Size

  • Max Pool Size

  • Incr Pool Size

  • Decr Pool Size

Operating System Authentication

Oracle Database can use Windows user login credentials to authenticate database users. To open a connection using Windows user login credentials, the User Id ConnectionString attribute must be set to a slash (/). If the Password attribute is provided, it is ignored.

Note:

Operating System Authentication is not supported in a .NET stored procedure.

The following example shows the use of operating system authentication:

/* Create an OS-authenticated user in the database
   Assume init.ora has OS_AUTHENT_PREFIX set to "" and <OS_USER>
   is any valid OS or DOMAIN user.
 
     create user <OS_USER> identified externally;
     grant connect, resource to <OS_USER>;
 
   Login through OS Authentication and execute the sample.  See Oracle 
   documentation for details on how to configure an OS-Authenticated user
*/
 
// C#
 
using System;
using Oracle.DataAccess.Client; 
 
class OSAuthenticationSample
{
  static void Main()
  {
    OracleConnection con = new OracleConnection();
 
    //Establish connection using OS Authentication   
    con.ConnectionString = "User Id=/;Data Source=oracle;";
    con.Open();
    Console.WriteLine("Connected to Oracle" + con.ServerVersion);
 
    // Close and Dispose OracleConnection object
    con.Close();
    con.Dispose();
    Console.WriteLine("Disconnected");
  }
}

See Also:

Oracle Database Platform Guide for Windows for information on how to set up Oracle Database to authenticate database users using Windows user login credentials

Privileged Connections

Oracle allows database administrators to connect to Oracle Database with either SYSDBA or SYSOPER privileges. This is done through the DBA Privilege attribute of the ConnectionString property.

The following example connects scott/tiger as SYSDBA:

// C#
 
using System;
using Oracle.DataAccess.Client; 
 
class PrivilegedConnectionSample
{
  static void Main()
  {
    OracleConnection con = new OracleConnection();
 
    //Connect scott/tiger as SYSDBA   
    con.ConnectionString = "User Id=scott;Password=tiger;" + 
      "DBA Privilege=SYSDBA;Data Source=oracle;";
    con.Open();
    Console.WriteLine("Connected to Oracle" + con.ServerVersion);
 
    // Close and Dispose OracleConnection object
    con.Close();
    con.Dispose();
    Console.WriteLine("Disconnected");
  }
}

See Also:

DBA Privilege "Supported Connection String Attributes" for further information on privileged connections in the database

Password Expiration

Oracle allows users passwords to expire. ODP.NET lets applications handle the password expiration by providing a new method, OpenWithNewPassword, that opens the connection with a new password.

The following example uses the OracleConnection OpenWithNewPassword method to connect with a new password of panther:

/* Database Setup
connect / as sysdba;
drop user testexpire cascade;
-- create user "testexpire" with password "testexpire"
grant connect , resource to testexpire identified by testexpire; 
alter user testexpire password expire;
*/
 
 
// C#
 
using System;
using Oracle.DataAccess.Client; 
 
class PasswordExpirationSample
{
  static void Main()
  {
    OracleConnection con = new OracleConnection();
 
    try
    {
      con.ConnectionString = 
        "User Id=testexpire;Password=testexpire;Data Source=oracle";
      con.Open();
      Console.WriteLine("Connected to Oracle" + con.ServerVersion);
    }
    catch (OracleException ex)
    {
      Console.WriteLine(ex.Message);
 
      //check the error number 
      //ORA-28001 : the password has expired
      if (ex.Number == 28001)
      {
        Console.WriteLine("\nChanging password to panther");
        con.OpenWithNewPassword("panther");
        Console.WriteLine("Connected with new password.");
      }
    }
    finally
    {
      // Close and Dispose OracleConnection object
      con.Close();
      con.Dispose();
      Console.WriteLine("Disconnected");
    }
  }
}

Note:

The OpenWithNewPassword method should be used only when the user password has expired, not for changing the password.

Proxy Authentication

With proper setup in the database, proxy authentication enables middle-tier applications to control the security by preserving database user identities and privileges, and auditing actions taken on behalf of these users. This is accomplished by creating and using a proxy database user that connects and authenticates against the database on behalf of a database user (that is, the real user) or database users.

Proxy authentication can then be used to provide better scalability with connection pooling. When connection pooling is used in conjunction with proxy authentication, the proxy authenticated connections can be shared among different real users. This is because only the connection and session established for the proxy is cached. An additional session is created for the real user when a proxy authenticated connection is requested, but it will be destroyed appropriately when the proxy authenticated connection is placed back into the pool. This design enables the application to scale well without sacrificing security.

ODP.NET applications can use proxy authentication by setting the "Proxy User Id" and "Proxy Password" attributes in the connection string. The real user is specified by the "User Id" attribute. Optionally, to enforce greater security, the real user's password can be provided through the "Password" connection string attribute.

The following example illustrates the use of ODP.NET proxy authentication:

/*  Log on as DBA (SYS or SYSTEM) that has CREATE USER privilege.
    Create a proxy user and modified scott to allow proxy connection.
  
     create user appserver identified by eagle;
     grant connect, resource to appserver;
     alter user scott grant connect through appserver;
*/
 
// C#
 
using System;
using Oracle.DataAccess.Client; 
 
class ProxyAuthenticationSample
{
  static void Main()
  {
    OracleConnection con = new OracleConnection();
 
    // Connecting using proxy authentication
    con.ConnectionString = "User Id=scott;Password=tiger;" + 
      "Data Source=oracle;Proxy User Id=appserver;Proxy Password=eagle; ";
    con.Open();
    Console.WriteLine("Connected to Oracle" + con.ServerVersion);
 
    // Close and Dispose OracleConnection object
    con.Close();
    con.Dispose();
    Console.WriteLine("Disconnected");
  }
}

See Also:

Dynamic Distributed Transaction Enlistment

For those applications that dynamically enlist in distributed transactions through the EnlistDistributedTransaction or the EnlistTransaction method of the OracleConnection object, the "enlist" connection string attribute must be set to a value of either "dynamic" or "true". If "enlist=true", the connection enlists in a transaction when the Open method is called on the OracleConnection object, if it is within the context of a COM+ transaction or a System.Transactions. If not, the OracleConnection object does not enlist in a distributed transaction, but it can later enlist explicitly using the EnlistDistributedTransaction or the EnlistTransaction method. If "enlist=false", the connection cannot enlist in the transaction.

For applications that cannot be rebuilt using "Enlist=dynamic", a registry string value, named DynamicEnlistment, of type REG_SZ, can be created under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\ORACLE\ODP.NET\Assembly_Version where Assembly_Version is the full assembly version number of Oracle.DataAccess.dll.If ODP.NET is properly installed, there should already be value names such as StatementCacheSize, TraceFileName, and so forth, under the same ODP.NET key.If the DynamicEnlistment registry key is set to 0 (or if the registry entry does not exist), it does not affect the application in any way. However, if DynamicEnlistment is set to 1, "Enlist=false" is treated the same as "Enlist=dynamic", enabling applications to enlist successfully through the EnlistDistributedTransaction method without any code change. Having DynamicEnlistment set to 1 does not affect OracleConnection objects that have "Enlist=true" or "Enlist=dynamic" in the connection string.

Client Identifier

The client identifier is a predefined attribute from the Oracle application context namespace USERENV. It is similar to proxy authentication because it can enable tracking of user identities. However, client identifier does not require the creation of two sessions (one for the proxy user and another for the end user) as proxy authentication does. In addition, the client identifier does not have to be a database user. It can be set to any string. But most importantly, by using client identifier, ODP.NET developers can use application context and Oracle Label Security, and configure Oracle Virtual Private Database (VPD) more easily. To set the client identifier, ODP.NET applications can set the ClientId property on the OracleConnection object after opening a connection. If connection pooling is enabled, the ClientId is reset to null whenever a connection is placed back into the pool.

ODP.NET exposes the ClientId property on the OracleConnection object. Setting the ClientId property internally sets the CLIENT_IDENTIFIER attribute on the session. To clear the ClientId property, simply set it to "" or string.Empty. The ClientId property is write-only.

Transparent Application Failover (TAF) Callback Support

Transparent Application Failover (TAF) is a feature in Oracle Database that provides high availability.

Note:

TAF is not supported in a .NET stored procedure.

TAF enables an application connection to automatically reconnect to another database instance if the connection gets severed. Active transactions roll back, but the new database connection, made by way of a different node, is identical to the original. This is true regardless of how the connection fails.

With TAF, a client notices no loss of connection as long as there is one instance left serving the application. The database administrator controls which applications run on which instances, and also creates a failover order for each application.

When a session fails over to another database, the NLS settings that were initially set on the original session are not carried over to the new session. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the application to set these NLS settings on the new session.

TAF Notification

Given the delays that failovers can cause, applications may wish to be notified by a TAF callback. ODP.NET supports the TAF callback function through the Failover event of the OracleConnection object, which allows applications to be notified whenever a failover occurs. To receive TAF callbacks, an event handler function must be registered with the Failover event.

When Failover Occurs

When a failover occurs, the Failover event is raised and the registered event handler is invoked several times during the course of reestablishing the connection to another Oracle instance.

The first call to the event handler occurs when Oracle Database first detects an instance connection loss. This allows the application to act accordingly for the upcoming delay for the failover.

If the failover is successful, the Failover event is raised again when the connection is reestablished and usable. At this time, the application can resynchronize the OracleGlobalization session setting and inform the application user that a failover has occurred.

If failover is unsuccessful, the Failover event is raised to inform the application that a failover did not take place.

The application can determine whether or not the failover is successful by checking the OracleFailoverEventArgs object that is passed to the event handler.

Registering an Event Handler for Failover

The following example registers an event handler method called OnFailover:

// C#
 
using System;
using Oracle.DataAccess.Client; 
 
class TAFCallBackSample
{
  public static FailoverReturnCode OnFailover(object sender, 
                                              OracleFailoverEventArgs eventArgs)
  {
    switch (eventArgs.FailoverEvent)
    {
      case FailoverEvent.Begin :
        Console.WriteLine(
          " \nFailover Begin - Failing Over ... Please standby \n");
        Console.WriteLine(
          " Failover type was found to be " + eventArgs.FailoverType);
        break;
 
      case FailoverEvent.Abort :
        Console.WriteLine(" Failover aborted. Failover will not take place.\n");
        break;
 
      case FailoverEvent.End :
        Console.WriteLine(" Failover ended ...resuming services\n");
        break;
 
      case FailoverEvent.Reauth :
        Console.WriteLine(" Failed over user. Resuming services\n");
        break;
 
      case FailoverEvent.Error :
        Console.WriteLine(" Failover error gotten. Sleeping...\n");
        return FailoverReturnCode.Retry;
 
      default :
        Console.WriteLine("Bad Failover Event: %d.\n", eventArgs.FailoverEvent);
        break;
    }
    return FailoverReturnCode.Success;
  } /* OnFailover */
 
  static void Main()
  {
    OracleConnection con = new OracleConnection();
 
    con.ConnectionString = "User Id=scott;Password=tiger;Data Source=oracle;";
    con.Open();
    con.Failover += new OracleFailoverEventHandler(OnFailover);
    Console.WriteLine("Event Handler is successfully registered");
 
    // Close and Dispose OracleConnection object
    con.Close();
    con.Dispose();
  }
}

The Failover event invokes only one event handler. If multiple Failover event handlers are registered with the Failover event, only the event handler registered last is invoked.

Note:

Distributed transactions are not supported in an environment where failover is enabled.