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Pro*COBOL® Programmer's Guide
Release 9.2

Part Number A96109-03
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This manual is a comprehensive user's guide and reference to the Oracle Pro*COBOL Precompiler. It shows you how to develop COBOL programs that use the database languages SQL and PL/SQL to access and manipulate Oracle data. See Oracle Database SQL Reference and PL/SQL User's Guide and Reference for more information on SQL and PL/SQL.

This Preface contains these topics:

Intended Audience

The Pro*COBOL Programmer's Guide is intended for anyone developing new COBOL applications or converting existing applications to run in the Oracle9i environment. Written especially for programmers, this comprehensive treatment of Pro*COBOL will also be of value to systems analysts, project managers, and others interested in embedded SQL applications.

To use this manual effectively, you need a working knowledge of the following subjects:

Documentation Accessibility

Our goal is to make Oracle products, services, and supporting documentation accessible, with good usability, to the disabled community. To that end, our documentation includes features that make information available to users of assistive technology. This documentation is available in HTML format, and contains markup to facilitate access by the disabled community. Standards will continue to evolve over time, and Oracle is actively engaged with other market-leading technology vendors to address technical obstacles so that our documentation can be accessible to all of our customers. For additional information, visit the Oracle Accessibility Program Web site at
Accessibility of Code Examples in Documentation

JAWS, a Windows screen reader, may not always correctly read the code examples in this document. The conventions for writing code require that closing braces should appear on an otherwise empty line; however, JAWS may not always read a line of text that consists solely of a bracket or brace.

Accessibility of Links to External Web Sites in Documentation

This documentation may contain links to Web sites of other companies or organizations that Oracle does not own or control. Oracle neither evaluates nor makes any representations regarding the accessibility of these Web sites.


This document contains:

Chapter 1, " Introduction"

This chapter introduces you to Pro*COBOL. You look at its role in developing application programs that manipulate Oracle data and find out what are its key benefits and features.

Chapter 2, " Precompiler Concepts"

This chapter explains how embedded SQL programs work. Then the guidelines for programming in Pro*COBOL are presented. Compilation issues are discussed and the sample Oracle tables used in this guide are presented, as is the first of the demo programs, SAMPLE1.PCO.

Chapter 3, " Database Concepts"

This chapter describes transaction processing. You learn the basic techniques that safeguard the consistency of your database. You then learn how to connect to a database and how to connect to multiple distributed databases.

Chapter 4, " Datatypes and Host Variables"

The internal and external datatypes are defined at length. Then you are shown how to use the datatypes in your COBOL program. Then runtime contexts and ROWIDs are explained, followed by Globalization Support, datatype conversion and datatype equivalencing (with a sample program).

Chapter 5, "Embedded SQL"

This chapter teaches you the essentials of embedded SQL programming. You learn how to use host variables, indicator variables, cursors, cursor variables, and the fundamental SQL commands that insert, update, select, and delete Oracle data.

Chapter 6, " Embedded PL/SQL"

This chapter shows you how to improve performance by embedding PL/SQL transaction processing blocks in your program. You learn how to use PL/SQL with host variables, indicator variables, cursors, stored subprograms in either PL/SQL or Java, host tables, and dynamic PL/SQL.

Chapter 7, " Host Tables"

This chapter looks at using host (COBOL) tables to improve program performance. You learn how to manipulate Oracle data using tables, how to operate on all the elements of a table with a single SQL statement, and how to limit the number of table elements processed.

Chapter 8, " Error Handling and Diagnostics"

This chapter provides an in-depth discussion of error reporting and recovery. You learn how to detect and handle errors using the status variable SQLSTATE, the SQLCA structure, and the WHENEVER statement. You also learn how to diagnose problems using the ORACA.

Chapter 9, " Oracle Dynamic SQL"

This chapter shows you how to take advantage of dynamic SQL. You are taught three methods, from simple to complex, for writing flexible programs that let users build SQL statements interactively at run time.

Chapter 10, " ANSI Dynamic SQL"

ANSI Dynamic SQL, Method 4, is presented. This method supports all Oracle datatypes, while the older Oracle Method 4 does not support cursor variables, tables of group items, DML Returning Clause, and LOBs. ANSI Method 4 uses embedded SQL statements that set up descriptor areas in memory. ANSI SQL should be used for all new applications.

Chapter 11, " Oracle Dynamic SQL: Method 4"

This chapter shows you how to maintain existing applications that use dynamic SQL Method 4. Numerous examples are used to illustrate the method.

Chapter 12, "Multithreaded Applications"

How to write multithreaded applications is discussed in this chapter. (Your compiler must support multithreading.)

Chapter 13, " Large Objects (LOBs)"

This chapter presents large object datatypes (BLOBs, CLOBs, NCLOBs, and BFILEs). The embedded SQL commands that provide functionality comparable to OCI and PL/SQl are presented and used in sample code.

Chapter 14, "Precompiler Options"

This chapter details the requirements for running the Pro*COBOL precompiler and lists the precompiler options. You learn what happens during precompilation, how to issue the Pro*COBOL command, and how to specify the many useful precompiler options.

Appendix A, " New Features"

This appendix highlights the improvements and new features introduced in releases 8.1 and 8.0 of Pro*COBOL.

Appendix B, " Operating System Dependencies"

Some details of Pro*COBOL programming vary from one system to another. Therefore, you are occasionally referred to other manuals for system-specific information. For convenience, this appendix collects all such external issues.

Appendix C, " Reserved Words, Keywords, and Namespaces "

This appendix refers you to a table of reserved words that have a special meaning to Pro*COBOL, and presents the namespaces that are reserved for Oracle libraries.

Appendix D, " Performance Tuning "

This appendix gives you some simple methods for improving the performance of your applications.

Appendix E, " Syntactic and Semantic Checking"

This appendix shows you how to use the SQLCHECK option to control the type and extent of syntactic and semantic checking done on embedded SQL statements and PL/SQL blocks.

Appendix F, " Embedded SQL Statements and Precompiler Directives "

This appendix contains descriptions of precompiler directives, embedded SQL commands, and Oracle embedded SQL extensions. The purpose, prerequisites, syntax diagrams, keywords, parameters, usage notes, examples, and related topics are presented for each statement and directive.

Related Documents

For more information, see these Oracle resources:

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This section describes the conventions used in the text and code examples of this documentation set. It describes:

Conventions in Text

We use various conventions in text to help you more quickly identify special terms. The following table describes those conventions and provides examples of their use.

Convention Meaning Example
Bold Bold typeface indicates terms that are defined in the text or terms that appear in a glossary, or both. When you specify this clause, you create an index-organized table.
Italics Italic typeface indicates book titles or emphasis. Oracle Database Concepts

Ensure that the recovery catalog and target database do not reside on the same disk.

UPPERCASE monospace (fixed-width) font Uppercase monospace typeface indicates elements supplied by the system. Such elements include parameters, privileges, datatypes, RMAN keywords, SQL keywords, SQL*Plus or utility commands, packages and methods, as well as system-supplied column names, database objects and structures, usernames, and roles. You can specify this clause only for a NUMBER column.

You can back up the database by using the BACKUP command.

Query the TABLE_NAME column in the USER_TABLES data dictionary view.


lowercase monospace (fixed-width) font Lowercase monospace typeface indicates executables, filenames, directory names, and sample user-supplied elements. Such elements include computer and database names, net service names, and connect identifiers, as well as user-supplied database objects and structures, column names, packages and classes, usernames and roles, program units, and parameter values.

Note: Some programmatic elements use a mixture of UPPERCASE and lowercase. Enter these elements as shown.

Enter sqlplus to start SQL*Plus.

The password is specified in the orapwd file.

Back up the datafiles and control files in the /disk1/oracle/dbs directory.

The department_id, department_name, and location_id columns are in the hr.departments table.

Set the QUERY_REWRITE_ENABLED initialization parameter to true.

Connect as oe user.

The JRepUtil class implements these methods.

lowercase italic monospace (fixed-width) font Lowercase italic monospace font represents placeholders or variables. You can specify the parallel_clause.

Run old_release.SQL where old_release refers to the release you installed prior to upgrading.

Conventions in Code Examples

Code examples illustrate SQL, PL/SQL, SQL*Plus, or other command-line statements. They are displayed in a monospace (fixed-width) font and separated from normal text as shown in this example:

SELECT username FROM dba_users WHERE username = 'MIGRATE';

The following table describes typographic conventions used in code examples and provides examples of their use.

Convention Meaning Example
[ ]
Brackets enclose one or more optional items. Do not enter the brackets.
DECIMAL (digits [ , precision ])
{ }
Braces enclose two or more items, one of which is required. Do not enter the braces.

A vertical bar represents a choice of two or more options within brackets or braces. Enter one of the options. Do not enter the vertical bar.
Horizontal ellipsis points indicate either:
  • That we have omitted parts of the code that are not directly related to the example

  • That you can repeat a portion of the code

CREATE TABLE ... AS subquery;

SELECT col1, col2, ... , coln FROM employees;
Vertical ellipsis points indicate that we have omitted several lines of code not directly related to the example.
9 rows selected.
Other notation You must enter symbols other than brackets, braces, vertical bars, and ellipsis points as shown.
acctbal NUMBER(11,2);
acct    CONSTANT NUMBER(4) := 3;
Italicized text indicates placeholders or variables for which you must supply particular values.
CONNECT SYSTEM/system_password
DB_NAME = database_name
Uppercase typeface indicates elements supplied by the system. We show these terms in uppercase in order to distinguish them from terms you define. Unless terms appear in brackets, enter them in the order and with the spelling shown. However, because these terms are not case sensitive, you can enter them in lowercase.
SELECT last_name, employee_id FROM employees;
DROP TABLE hr.employees;
Lowercase typeface indicates programmatic elements that you supply. For example, lowercase indicates names of tables, columns, or files.

Note: Some programmatic elements use a mixture of UPPERCASE and lowercase. Enter these elements as shown.

SELECT last_name, employee_id FROM employees;
sqlplus hr/hr