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Oracle Concepts

Selvaraj V
Anna University Chennai.
Chennai – 25.

A cursor is a pointer to a memory location where the results of a "select statement"

could be stored and we could manipulate the information by fetching the records.

Two types of classification - I and II

Implicit and Explicit

Implicit : More fast and less coding effort. Will never raise INVALID_CURSOR
error Cannot be opened outside the statement Raises NO_DATA_FOUND and
TOO_MANY_ROWS exceptions (eg: select <stmt>)

Implicit cursor returning more than one record? FOR LOOP cursors.

Explicit : 2 network round trips. Store data first then retrieve data. More
programmatic control.

Programmer could open; fetch data, close, check attributes etc.

Static and Dynamic

Static : Normal cursor (implicit or explicit)

Dynamic : Ref cursor: Cursor created only when it is opened.

Could be declared once and defined many times in different procedures.
Ref Cursors can have Record/s as return types. So could be used for returning
data to other languages like Java, C++ etc

II.b) Ref cursor - Two types

Strong : Ref cursor with a specified return type.

Weak : No return type specified.

3. Cursor attributes

%FOUND - records fetched successfully

%NOTFOUND - no records fetched
%ROWCOUNT - Number of records fetched
%ISOPEN - returns TRUE if cursor is open

Could be used for implicit and explicit cursors.

select * from emp -- also for delete
v_count:= SQL%ROWCOUNT
end if;

open c1; -- cursor c1 is select
fetch <>
exit when c1%NOTFOUND

Eg: Explicit cursor.


Cursor cur1 is
select ename,empno,sal from emp
where empno between 9000 and 1000
and sal<50000
and deptno=50


open cur1;

fetch cur1 into v_ename,v_empno,v_sal;

exit when cur1%notfound;

---<do processing>

close cur1;


For every SQL statement execution certain area in memory is allocated. PL/SQL
allow you to name this area. This private SQL area is called context area or cursor. A
cursor acts as a handle or pointer into the context area. A PL/SQL program controls
the context area using the cursor. Cursor represents a structure in memory and is
different from cursor variable.
When you declare a cursor, you get a pointer variable, which does not point any
thing. When the cursor is opened, memory is allocated and the cursor structure is
created. The cursor variable now points the cursor. When the cursor is closed the
memory allocated for the cursor is released.
Cursors allow the programmer to retrieve data from a table and perform actions on
that data one row at a time. There are two types of cursors implicit cursors and
explicit cursors.

Implicit cursors

For SQL queries returning single row PL/SQL declares implicit cursors. Implicit
cursors are simple SELECT statements and are written in the BEGIN block
(executable section) of the PL/SQL. Implicit cursors are easy to code, and they
retrieve exactly one row. PL/SQL implicitly declares cursors for all DML statements.
The most commonly raised exceptions here are NO_DATA_FOUND or

SELECT ename, sal INTO ena, esa FROM EMP WHERE EMPNO = 7844;

Note: Ename and sal are columns of the table EMP and ena and esa are the variables

used to store ename and sal fetched by the query.

Explicit Cursors

Explicit cursors are used in queries that return multiple rows. The set of rows fetched
by a query is called active set. The size of the active set meets the search criteria in
the select statement. Explicit cursor is declared in the DECLARE section of PL/SQL


CURSOR <cursor-name> IS <select statement>

Sample Code:

Processing multiple rows is similar to file processing. For processing a file you need
to open it, process records and then close. Similarly user-defined explicit cursor
needs to be opened, before reading the rows, after which it is closed. Like how file
pointer marks current position in file processing, cursor marks the current position in
the active set.

Opening Cursor

Syntax: OPEN <cursor-name>;

Example : OPEN emp_cur;

When a cursor is opened the active set is determined, the rows satisfying the where
clause in the select statement are added to the active set. A pointer is established
and points to the first row in the active set.
Fetching from the cursor: To get the next row from the cursor we need to use fetch

Syntax: FETCH <cursor-name> INTO <variables>;

Example: FETCH emp_cur INTO ena;

FETCH statement retrieves one row at a time. Bulk collect clause need to be used to
fetch more than one row at a time.
Closing the cursor: After retrieving all the rows from active set the cursor should be
closed. Resources allocated for the cursor are now freed. Once the cursor is closed
the execution of fetch statement will lead to errors.

CLOSE <cursor-name>;

Explicit Cursor Attributes

Every cursor defined by the user has 4 attributes. When appended to the cursor
name these attributes let the user access useful information about the execution of a
multirow query.

The attributes are:

1. %NOTFOUND: It is a Boolean attribute, which evaluates to true, if the

last fetch failed. i.e. when there are no rows left in the cursor to fetch.
2. %FOUND: Boolean variable, which evaluates to true if the last fetch,
3. %ROWCOUNT: It’s a numeric attribute, which returns number of rows
fetched by the cursor so far.
4. %ISOPEN: A Boolean variable, which evaluates to true if the cursor is
opened otherwise to false.
In above example I wrote a separate fetch for each row, instead loop statement
could be used here. Following example explains the usage of LOOP.
Using WHILE:

While LOOP can be used as shown in the following example for accessing the cursor


Fetch is used twice in the above example to make %FOUND available. See below
Using Cursor For Loop:

The cursor for Loop can be used to process multiple records. There are two benefits
with cursor for Loop

1. It implicitly declares a %ROWTYPE variable, also uses it as LOOP index

2. Cursor For Loop itself opens a cursor, read records then closes the cursor
automatically. Hence OPEN, FETCH and CLOSE statements are not necessary in it.

emp_rec is automatically created variable of %ROWTYPE. We have not used OPEN,

FETCH , and CLOSE in the above example as for cursor loop does it automatically.
The above example can be rewritten as shown in the Fig , with less lines of code. It
is called Implicit for Loop.
Deletion or Updation Using Cursor:

In all the previous examples I explained about how to retrieve data using cursors.
Now we will see how to modify or delete rows in a table using cursors. In order to
Update or Delete rows, the cursor must be defined with the FOR UPDATE clause. The
Update or Delete statement must be declared with WHERE CURRENT OF

Following example updates comm of all employees with salary less than 2000 by
adding 100 to existing comm.