Oracle 8i Data Cartridge Developer's Guide
Release 2 (8.1.6)

Part Number A76937-01





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What Is a Data Cartridge?, 7 of 7

Cartridges as Software Components

The accumulated expertise that underlies a set of data objects comprises a knowledge base that can be marketed as a stand-alone cartridge, or as a cartridge that could be extended in different ways by different users. But how does one achieve this? The data and rules that apply to the software components are often spread across many different applications. With data cartridges, you gather the definition and rules together for use throughout the data processing environment. Packaging domain-specific component expertise in a data cartridge allows the cartridge to access the corporate information repository and add both organizational and operational value to the data. Such software components are applications that can be "plugged" into other software components, and which are themselves "pluggable".

Their constituents reside at the server or are accessed from the server. Most processing for data cartridges occurs at the server or is dispatched from the server in the form of an external procedure.

The Structure of a Data Cartridge

A data cartridge generally defines one or more object types. Object types from this and potentially other data cartridges can provide users with new or extended capabilities conveniently packaged. A data cartridge includes both the definition of object types and the code that implements their capabilities. A data cartridge can be used as the foundation for the definition of other data cartridges.

Each object type includes two components. The order in which these components are made available to the server (that is, the order in which they are defined) is important. The major components include:

In addition, a data cartridge may use the extended server execution environment. The use of external procedures involves two additional components:

Simple data cartridges consist of these components, which are described in this section. More complex data cartridges will use the extensibility services and interfaces (see Chapter 9, "Using Cartridge Services"). Complex Data Cartridges contain domain operators and domain indextypes (see Chapter 7, "Building Domain Indexes"), and optimization functions (see Chapter 8, "Query Optimization").

Object Type Specification

A data cartridge consists of one or more of these domain-specific objects packaged and integrated with the server. Each domain-specific type is an object type (or ODT, for object data type) and includes both of the following:

The object type specification gives the object a name, and it defines the types of persistent data, called attributes, that an instance of this object will include. It also specifies names, return values, and argument types of the related behaviors, or methods. Much like a C++ class definition in a header (.h) prefix file, the type specification lays out the object framework (attributes and method signatures), but does not include the actual method code that performs the functions. The object type specifications for the various object types defined by your data cartridge will be written in SQL and stored in a SQL script that will be input to the server at cartridge installation time.

Object Type Body Code

The type body provides the code that implements the object type's methods. Method code can be implemented in PL/SQL, Java, C, C++, or any other 3GL. Most simple methods can be written in PL/SQL and Java. (See the PL/SQL User's Guide and Reference for a complete discussion of PL/SQL syntax.)

Code written in C, C++, and other 3GLs must be packaged in a runtime or dynamic link library. This is described in "External Library Linkage Specification" and "External Library Code".

External Library Linkage Specification

If the implementation of your methods is in C, C++, or some other 3GL, the methods must be packaged within a runtime or dynamic link library. The external library linkage specification is necessary to tell the server about this library, including its location, the binding of the type's methods to the library's entry points, and the methods' parameters.

Any 3GL code dispatched through the external library linkage specification will run in a separate process from the Oracle server. As such, the dispatch involves communication overhead. In deciding which methods should be implemented in external libraries, you should be aware of this overhead. In general, the cost of dispatch is less significant for methods that are complex or computation intensive.

External Library Code

The external library is the runtime or dynamic link library that contains any 3GL method code. You implement the 3GL methods in a language such as C, and then use operating-system-specific commands to build a shared-object library on UNIX platforms or a DLL on Windows NT systems.

Installing a Data Cartridge

Data cartridges are packaged so that their constituents (type definitions, PL/SQL packages, external procedures, users, roles, synonyms, and so forth) can be installed into or de-installed from the Oracle universal data server as a unit.

Figure 1-3 Installation of a Data Cartridge Using the Oracle Software Packager

The preceding diagram describes the relationship between the Oracle Universal Installer and the Oracle Software Packager, as well as other components that you may need to deploy. For more information, see the Oracle Software Packager User's Guide.

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