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

B28375-01
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LOB Support

ODP.NET provides an easy and optimal way to access and manipulate large object (LOB) data types. This section includes the following topics:

Large Character and Large Binary Data Types

Oracle Database supports large character and large binary data types.

Large Character Data Types

  • CLOB - Character data can store up to 4 gigabytes.

  • NCLOB - Unicode National character set data can store up to 4 gigabytes.

Large Binary Data Types

  • BLOB - Unstructured binary data can store up to 4 gigabytes.

  • BFILE - Binary data stored in external file can store up to 4 gigabytes.

    Note:

    LONG and LONG RAW data types are made available for backward compatibility in Oracle9i, but should not be used in new applications.

Oracle Data Provider for .NET LOB Objects

ODP.NET provides three objects for manipulating LOB data: OracleBFile, OracleBlob, and OracleClob.

Table 3-14 shows the proper ODP.NET object to use for a particular Oracle LOB type.

Table 3-14 ODP.NET LOB Objects

Oracle LOB Type ODP.NET LOB Object

BFILE

OracleBFile

BLOB

OracleBlob

CLOB

OracleClob

NCLOB

OracleClob


The ODP.NET LOB objects can be obtained by calling the proper typed accessor on the OracleDataReader object, or by calling the proper typed accessor as an output parameter on a command execution with the proper bind type.

All ODP.NET LOB objects inherit from the .NET Stream class to provide generic Stream operations. The LOB data (except for BFILE types) can be updated using the ODP.NET LOB objects by using methods such as Write. Data is not cached in the LOB objects when read and write operations are carried out. Therefore, each read or write request incurs a database round-trip. The OracleClob object overloads the Read method, providing two ways to read data from a CLOB. The Read method that takes a byte[] as the buffer populates it with CLOB data as Unicode byte array. The Read method that takes a char[] as the buffer populates it with Unicode characters.

Additional methods can also be found on the OracleBFile object. An OracleBFile object must be explicitly opened using the OpenFile method before any data can be read from it. To close a previously opened BFILE, use the CloseFile method.

Every ODP.NET LOB object is a connected object and requires a connection during its lifetime. If the connection associated with a LOB object is closed, then the LOB object is not usable and should be disposed of.

If an ODP.NET LOB object is obtained from an OracleDataReader object through a typed accessor, then its Connection property is set with a reference to the same OracleConnection object used by the OracleDataReader object. If a LOB object is obtained as an output parameter, then its Connection property is set with a reference to the same OracleConnection property used by the OracleCommand object. If a LOB object is obtained by invoking an ODP.NET LOB object constructor to create a temporary LOB, the Connection property is set with a reference to the OracleConnection object provided in the constructor.

The ODP.NET LOB object Connection property is read-only and cannot be changed during its lifetime. In addition, the ODP.NET LOB types object can be used only within the context of the same OracleConnection referenced by the ODP.NET LOB object. For example, the ODP.NET LOB Connection property must reference the same connection as the OracleCommand object if the ODP.NET LOB object is a parameter of the OracleCommand. If that is not the case, ODP.NET raises an exception when the command is executed.

See Also:

Oracle Database SecureFiles and Large Objects Developer's Guide for complete information about Oracle Database 10g LOBs and how to use them

Updating LOBs Using a DataSet

BFILE and BLOB data are stored in the DataSet as byte arrays while CLOB and NCLOB data are stored as strings. In a similar manner to other types, an OracleDataAdapter object can be used to fill and update LOB data changes along with the use of the OracleCommandBuilder object for automatically generating SQL.

Note that an Oracle LOB column can store up to 4 GB of data. When the LOB data is fetched into the DataSet, the actual amount of LOB data the DataSet can hold for a LOB column is limited to the maximum size of a .NET string type, which is 2 GB. Therefore, when fetching LOB data that is greater than 2 GB, ODP.NET LOB objects must be used to avoid any data loss.

Updating LOBs Using OracleCommand and OracleParameter

To update LOB columns, LOB data can be bound as a parameter for SQL statements, anonymous PL/SQL blocks, or stored procedures. The parameter value can be set as a NET Framework type, ODP.NET type, or as an ODP.NET LOB object type. For example, when inserting .NET string data into a LOB column in an Oracle9i database or later, that parameter can be bound as OracleDbType.Varchar2. For a parameter whose value is set to an OracleClob object, the parameter should be bound as OracleDbType.Clob.

Updating LOBs Using ODP.NET LOB Objects

Oracle BFILEs cannot be updated; therefore, OracleBFile objects do not allow updates to BFILE columns.

Two requirements must be met to update LOB data using ODP.NET LOB objects:

  1. A transaction must be started before a LOB column is selected.

    The transaction must be started using the BeginTransaction method on the OracleConnection object before the command execution, so that the lock can be released when the OracleTransaction Commit or Rollback method is invoked.

  2. The row in which the LOB column resides must be locked; as part of an entire result set, or on a row-by-row basis.

    1. Locking the entire result set

      Add the FOR UPDATE clause to the end of the SELECT statement. After execution of the command, the entire result set is locked.

    2. Locking the row - there are two options:

      • Invoke one of the OracleDataReader typed accessors (GetOracleClobForUpdate or GetOracleBlobForUpdate) on the OracleDataReader object to obtain an ODP.NET LOB object, while also locking the current row.

        This approach requires a primary key, unique column(s), or a ROWID in the result set because the OracleDataReader object must uniquely identify the row to re-select it for locking.

      • Execute an INSERT or an UPDATE statement that returns a LOB in the RETURNING clause.

Temporary LOBs

Temporary LOBs can be instantiated for BLOB, CLOB, and NCLOB objects. To instantiate an ODP.NET LOB object that represents a temporary LOB, the OracleClob or the OracleBlob constructor can be used.

Temporary ODP.NET LOB objects can be used for the following purposes:

  • To initialize and populate a LOB column with empty or non-empty LOB data.

  • To pass a LOB type as an input parameter to a SQL statement, an anonymous PL/SQL block, or a stored procedure.

  • To act as the source or the destination of data transfer between two LOB objects as in the CopyTo operation.

    Note:

    Temporary LOBs are not transaction aware. Commit and rollback operations do not affect the data referenced by a temporary LOB.