|PL/SQL User's Guide and Reference
Part Number A77069-01
This appendix explains how PL/SQL resolves references to names in potentially ambiguous SQL and procedural statements.
During compilation, the PL/SQL compiler associates identifiers such as the name of a variable with an address (memory location), datatype, or actual value. This process is called binding. The association lasts through all subsequent executions until a recompilation occurs, which might cause a rebinding.
Before binding the names, PL/SQL must resolve all references to them in the compilation unit. This process is called name resolution. PL/SQL considers all names to be in the same namespace. So, one declaration or definition in an inner scope can hide another in an outer scope. In the following example, the declaration of variable
client hides the definition of datatype
Client because PL/SQL is not case sensitive except within string literals:
BEGIN <<block1>> DECLARE TYPE Client IS RECORD (...); TYPE Customer IS RECORD (...); BEGIN DECLARE client Customer; -- hides definition of type Client -- in outer scope lead1 Client; -- illegal; Client resolves to the -- variable client lead2 block1.Client; -- OK; refers to type Client BEGIN NULL; END; END; END;
However, you can still refer to datatype
Client by qualifying the reference with block label
person1 statement below, the compiler resolves the second reference to
manager as the name of the attribute you are trying to declare. In the
person2 statement, the compiler resolves the second reference to
manager as the name of the attribute you just declared. In both cases, the reference to
manager generates an error because the compiler expects a type name.
CREATE TYPE manager AS OBJECT (dept NUMBER); CREATE TYPE person1 AS OBJECT (manager manager); CREATE TYPE person2 AS OBJECT (manager NUMBER, mgr manager);
During name resolution, the compiler can encounter various forms of references including simple unqualified names, dot-separated chains of identifiers, indexed components of a collection, and so on. Some examples of legal references follow:
CREATE PACKAGE pkg1 AS m NUMBER; TYPE t1 IS RECORD (a NUMBER); v1 t1; TYPE t2 IS TABLE OF t1 INDEX BY BINARY_INTEGER; v2 t2; FUNCTION f1 (p1 NUMBER) RETURN t1; FUNCTION f2 (q1 NUMBER) RETURN t2; END pkg1; CREATE PACKAGE BODY pkg1 AS FUNCTION f1 (p1 NUMBER) RETURN t1 IS n NUMBER; BEGIN n := m; -- (1) unqualified name n := pkg1.m; -- (2) dot-separated chain of identifiers -- (package name used as scope -- qualifier followed by variable name) n := pkg1.f1.p1; -- (3) dot-separated chain of identifiers -- (package name used as scope -- qualifier followed by function name -- also used as scope qualifier -- followed by parameter name) n := v1.a; -- (4) dot-separated chain of identifiers -- (variable name followed by -- component selector) n := pkg1.v1.a; -- (5) dot-separated chain of identifiers -- (package name used as scope -- qualifier followed by -- variable name followed by component -- selector) n := v2(10).a; -- (6) indexed name followed by component -- selector n := f1(10).a; -- (7) function call followed by component -- selector n := f2(10)(10).a; -- (8) function call followed by indexing -- followed by component selector n := scott.pkg1.f2(10)(10).a; -- (9) function call (which is a dot- -- separated chain of identifiers, -- including schema name used as -- scope qualifier followed by package -- name used as scope qualifier -- followed by function name) -- followed by component selector -- of the returned result followed -- by indexing followed by component -- selector n := scott.pkg1.f1.n; -- (10) dot-separated chain of identifiers -- (schema name used as scope qualifier -- followed by package name also used -- as scope qualifier followed by -- function name also used as scope -- qualifier followed by local -- variable name) ... END f1; FUNCTION f2 (q1 NUMBER) RETURN t2 IS BEGIN ... END f2; END pkg1;
Let us take a look at the name-resolution algorithm.
The first part of name resolution involves finding the basis. The basis is the smallest prefix to a dot-separated chain of identifiers that can be resolved by looking in the current scope, then moving outward to schema-level scopes.
In the previous examples, the basis for (3)
pkg1, the basis for (4)
scott.pkg1, and the basis for (5)
v1. In (5), the
v1.a is a component selector and resolves as field
a of variable
v1 is of type
t1, which has a field called
If a basis is not found, the compiler generates a not declared error. If the basis is found, the compiler attempts to resolve the complete reference. If it fails, the compiler generates an error.
The length of the basis is always 1, 2, or 3. And, it can be 3 only inside SQL scope when the compiler resolves a three-part name as
Here are more examples of bases:
variable_name type_name package_name schema_name.package_name schema_name.function_name table_name table_name.column_name schema_name.table_name schema_name.table_name.column_name
Now, let us look at the algorithm for finding the basis.
If the compiler is resolving a name in SQL scope (which includes everything in a DML statement except items in the
INTO clause and schema-level table names), it first attempts to find the basis in that scope. If it fails, it attempts to find the basis in PL/SQL local scopes and at the schema level just as it would for names in non-SQL scopes.
Here are the rules for finding the basis in SQL scope when the compiler expects to find a column name:
FROMclauses that are in scope, starting with the current scope and moving outward.
Once the compiler finds the basis as a column name, it attempts to resolve the complete reference by finding a component of the basis and so on depending upon the type of column name.
Here are the rules for finding the basis in SQL scope when the compiler expects to find a row expression (which is a table alias that can appear by itself; it can be used only with an object table and operator
VALUE, or in an
UPDATE statement for an object table):
If the name being resolved either
the compiler attempts to find the basis by searching all PL/SQL scopes local to the compilation unit, starting with the current scope and moving outward. If the name is found, the length of the basis is 1. If the name is not found, the compiler attempts to find the basis by searching for schema objects using the following rules:
When a declaration or type definition in another scope prevents the compiler from resolving a reference correctly, that declaration or definition is said to "capture" the reference. Usually this is the result of migration or schema evolution. There are three kinds of capture: inner, same-scope, and outer. Inner and same-scope capture apply only in SQL scope.
An inner capture occurs when a name in an inner scope that once resolved to an entity in an outer scope, either
If the situation was resolved without error in an inner scope, the capture might occur without your knowing. In the following example, the reference to
col2 in the inner
SELECT statement binds to column
col2 in table
tab1 because table
tab2 has no column named
CREATE TABLE tab1 (col1 NUMBER, col2 NUMBER); CREATE TABLE tab2 (col1 NUMBER); CREATE PROCEDURE proc AS CURSOR c1 IS SELECT * FROM tab1 WHERE EXISTS (SELECT * FROM tab2 WHERE col2 = 10); BEGIN ... END;
In the last example, if you add a column named
col2 to table
tab2, as follows
proc is invalidated and recompiled automatically upon next use. However, upon recompilation, the
col2 in the inner
SELECT statement binds to column
col2 in table
tab2 is in the inner scope. Thus, the reference to
col2 is captured by the addition of column
col2 to table
The use of collections and object types allows for more inner capture situations. In the following example, the reference to
s.tab2.a resolves to attribute
a of column
tab2 in table
tab1 via table alias
s which is visible in the outer scope of the query:
CREATE TYPE type1 AS OBJECT (a NUMBER); CREATE TABLE tab1 (tab2 type1); CREATE TABLE tab2 (x NUMBER); SELECT * FROM tab1 s -- alias with same name as schema name WHERE EXISTS (SELECT * FROM s.tab2 WHERE x = s.tab2.a); -- note lack of alias
In the last example, suppose you add a column named
a to table
s.tab2, which appears in the inner subquery. When the query is processed, an inner capture occurs because the reference to
s.tab2.a resolves to column
a of table
tab2 in schema
s. You can avoid inner captures by following the rules given in "Avoiding Capture". According to those rules, you should revise the query as follows:
In SQL scope, a same-scope capture occurs when a column is added to one of two tables in the same scope, and that column has the same name as a column in the other table. Consider the following query (and refer to the previous example):
In this example, the reference to
col2 in the query binds to column
col2 in table
tab1. If you add a column named
col2 to table
tab2, the query compiles with errors. Thus, the reference to
col2 is captured by an error.
An outer capture occurs when a name in an inner scope, which once resolved to an entity in an inner scope, gets resolved to an entity in an outer scope. Fortunately, SQL and PL/SQL are designed to prevent outer captures.
You can avoid inner capture in DML statements by following these rules:
Qualifying a reference with <schema-name>.<table-name> does not prevent inner capture if the DML statement references tables that have columns of a user-defined object type.
Columns of a user-defined object type allow for more inner capture situations. To minimize problems, the name-resolution algorithm includes the following rules:
CREATE TYPE t1 AS OBJECT (x NUMBER); CREATE TABLE tb1 (col t1); SELECT col.x FROM tb1; -- illegal SELECT tb1.col.x FROM tb1; -- illegal SELECT scott.tb1.col.x FROM scott.tb1; -- illegal SELECT t.col.x FROM tb1 t; UPDATE tb1 SET col.x = 10; -- illegal UPDATE scott.tb1 SET scott.tb1.col.x=10; -- illegal UPDATE tb1 t set t.col.x = 1; DELETE FROM tb1 WHERE tb1.col.x = 10; -- illegal DELETE FROM tb1 t WHERE t.col.x = 10;
VALUE, and you can use row expressions in the
SETclause of an
UPDATEstatement. Some examples follow:
CREATE TYPE t1 AS OBJECT (x number); CREATE TABLE ot1 OF t1; -- object table SELECT REF(ot1) FROM ot1; -- illegal SELECT REF(o) FROM ot1 o; SELECT VALUE(ot1) FROM ot1; -- illegal SELECT VALUE(o) FROM ot1 o; DELETE FROM ot1 WHERE VALUE(ot1) = (t1(10)); -- illegal DELETE FROM ot1 o WHERE VALUE(o) = (t1(10)); UPDATE ot1 SET ot1 = ... -- illegal UPDATE ot1 o SET o = ....
The following ways to insert into an object table are legal and do not require an alias because there is no column list:
In calls to a parameterless subprogram, an empty parameter list is optional, as the following examples show:
CREATE FUNCTION func1 RETURN NUMBER AS BEGIN RETURN 10; END; CREATE PACKAGE pkg2 AS FUNCTION func1 RETURN NUMBER; PRAGMA RESTRICT_REFERENCES(func1,WNDS,RNDS,WNPS,RNPS); END pkg2; CREATE PACKAGE BODY pkg2 AS FUNCTION func1 RETURN NUMBER IS BEGIN RETURN 20; END; END pkg2; SELECT func1 FROM dual; SELECT func1() FROM dual; SELECT pkg2.func1 FROM dual; SELECT pkg2.func1() FROM dual; DECLARE x NUMBER; BEGIN x := func1; x := func1(); SELECT func1 INTO x FROM dual; SELECT func1() INTO x FROM dual; SELECT pkg2.func1 INTO x FROM dual; SELECT pkg2.func1() INTO x FROM dual; END;
In calls to a parameterless method, an empty parameter list is optional within PL/SQL scopes. However, an empty parameter list is required within SQL scopes. Some examples follow:
CREATE TYPE type1 AS OBJECT ( a NUMBER, MEMBER FUNCTION f RETURN number, PRAGMA RESTRICT_REFERENCES(f,WNDS,RNDS,WNPS,RNPS) ); CREATE TYPE BODY type1 AS MEMBER FUNCTION f RETURN number IS BEGIN RETURN 1; END; END; CREATE TABLE tab1 (col1 type1); INSERT INTO tab1 VALUES (type1(10)); SELECT x.col1.f FROM tab1 x; -- illegal SELECT x.col1.f() FROM tab1 x; DECLARE n NUMBER; y type1; BEGIN /* In PL/SQL scopes, an empty parameter list is optional. */ n := y.f; n := y.f(); /* In SQL scopes, an empty parameter list is required. */ SELECT x.col1.f INTO n FROM tab1 x; -- illegal SELECT x.col1.f() INTO n FROM tab1 x; SELECT y.f INTO n FROM dual; -- illegal SELECT y.f() INTO n FROM dual; END;
The name-resolution rules for SQL and PL/SQL are similar. However, there are a few minor differences, which are not noticeable if you follow the capture avoidance rules.
For compatibility, the SQL rules are more permissive than the PL/SQL rules. That is, the SQL rules, which are mostly context sensitive, recognize as legal more situations and DML statements than the PL/SQL rules do.