PL/SQL - Collections


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In this chapter, we will discuss the Collections in PL/SQL. A collection is an ordered group of elements having the same data type. Each element is identified by a unique subscript that represents its position in the collection.

PL/SQL provides three collection types −

  • Index-by tables or Associative array
  • Nested table
  • Variable-size array or Varray

Oracle documentation provides the following characteristics for each type of collections −

Collection Type Number of Elements Subscript Type Dense or Sparse Where Created Can Be Object Type Attribute
Associative array (or index-by table) Unbounded String or integer Either Only in PL/SQL block No
Nested table Unbounded Integer Starts dense, can become sparse Either in PL/SQL block or at schema level Yes
Variablesize array (Varray) Bounded Integer Always dense Either in PL/SQL block or at schema level Yes

We have already discussed varray in the chapter 'PL/SQL arrays'. In this chapter, we will discuss the PL/SQL tables.

Both types of PL/SQL tables, i.e., the index-by tables and the nested tables have the same structure and their rows are accessed using the subscript notation. However, these two types of tables differ in one aspect; the nested tables can be stored in a database column and the index-by tables cannot.

Index-By Table

An index-by table (also called an associative array) is a set of key-value pairs. Each key is unique and is used to locate the corresponding value. The key can be either an integer or a string.

An index-by table is created using the following syntax. Here, we are creating an index-by table named table_name, the keys of which will be of the subscript_type and associated values will be of the element_type

TYPE type_name IS TABLE OF element_type [NOT NULL] INDEX BY subscript_type; 
 
table_name type_name;

Example

Following example shows how to create a table to store integer values along with names and later it prints the same list of names.

DECLARE 
   TYPE salary IS TABLE OF NUMBER INDEX BY VARCHAR2(20); 
   salary_list salary; 
   name   VARCHAR2(20); 
BEGIN 
   -- adding elements to the table 
   salary_list('Rajnish') := 62000; 
   salary_list('Minakshi') := 75000; 
   salary_list('Martin') := 100000; 
   salary_list('James') := 78000;  
   
   -- printing the table 
   name := salary_list.FIRST; 
   WHILE name IS NOT null LOOP 
      dbms_output.put_line 
      ('Salary of ' || name || ' is ' || TO_CHAR(salary_list(name))); 
      name := salary_list.NEXT(name); 
   END LOOP; 
END; 
/

When the above code is executed at the SQL prompt, it produces the following result −

Salary of James is 78000 
Salary of Martin is 100000 
Salary of Minakshi is 75000 
Salary of Rajnish is 62000  

PL/SQL procedure successfully completed.

Example

Elements of an index-by table could also be a %ROWTYPE of any database table or %TYPE of any database table field. The following example illustrates the concept. We will use the CUSTOMERS table stored in our database as −

Select * from customers;  

+----+----------+-----+-----------+----------+ 
| ID | NAME     | AGE | ADDRESS   | SALARY   | 
+----+----------+-----+-----------+----------+ 
|  1 | Ramesh   |  32 | Ahmedabad |  2000.00 | 
|  2 | Khilan   |  25 | Delhi     |  1500.00 | 
|  3 | kaushik  |  23 | Kota      |  2000.00 | 
|  4 | Chaitali |  25 | Mumbai    |  6500.00 | 
|  5 | Hardik   |  27 | Bhopal    |  8500.00 | 
|  6 | Komal    |  22 | MP        |  4500.00 | 
+----+----------+-----+-----------+----------+  

DECLARE 
   CURSOR c_customers is 
      select name from customers; 

   TYPE c_list IS TABLE of customers.Name%type INDEX BY binary_integer; 
   name_list c_list; 
   counter integer :=0; 
BEGIN 
   FOR n IN c_customers LOOP 
      counter := counter +1; 
      name_list(counter) := n.name; 
      dbms_output.put_line('Customer('||counter|| '):'||name_lis t(counter)); 
   END LOOP; 
END; 
/ 

When the above code is executed at the SQL prompt, it produces the following result −

Customer(1): Ramesh  
Customer(2): Khilan  
Customer(3): kaushik     
Customer(4): Chaitali  
Customer(5): Hardik  
Customer(6): Komal  

PL/SQL procedure successfully completed

Nested Tables

A nested table is like a one-dimensional array with an arbitrary number of elements. However, a nested table differs from an array in the following aspects −

  • An array has a declared number of elements, but a nested table does not. The size of a nested table can increase dynamically.

  • An array is always dense, i.e., it always has consecutive subscripts. A nested array is dense initially, but it can become sparse when elements are deleted from it.

A nested table is created using the following syntax −

TYPE type_name IS TABLE OF element_type [NOT NULL]; 
 
table_name type_name; 

This declaration is similar to the declaration of an index-by table, but there is no INDEX BY clause.

A nested table can be stored in a database column. It can further be used for simplifying SQL operations where you join a single-column table with a larger table. An associative array cannot be stored in the database.

Example

The following examples illustrate the use of nested table −

DECLARE 
   TYPE names_table IS TABLE OF VARCHAR2(10); 
   TYPE grades IS TABLE OF INTEGER;  
   names names_table; 
   marks grades; 
   total integer; 
BEGIN 
   names := names_table('Kavita', 'Pritam', 'Ayan', 'Rishav', 'Aziz'); 
   marks:= grades(98, 97, 78, 87, 92); 
   total := names.count; 
   dbms_output.put_line('Total '|| total || ' Students'); 
   FOR i IN 1 .. total LOOP 
      dbms_output.put_line('Student:'||names(i)||', Marks:' || marks(i)); 
   end loop; 
END; 
/  

When the above code is executed at the SQL prompt, it produces the following result −

Total 5 Students 
Student:Kavita, Marks:98 
Student:Pritam, Marks:97 
Student:Ayan, Marks:78 
Student:Rishav, Marks:87 
Student:Aziz, Marks:92  

PL/SQL procedure successfully completed. 

Example

Elements of a nested table can also be a %ROWTYPE of any database table or %TYPE of any database table field. The following example illustrates the concept. We will use the CUSTOMERS table stored in our database as −

Select * from customers;  

+----+----------+-----+-----------+----------+ 
| ID | NAME     | AGE | ADDRESS   | SALARY   | 
+----+----------+-----+-----------+----------+ 
|  1 | Ramesh   |  32 | Ahmedabad |  2000.00 | 
|  2 | Khilan   |  25 | Delhi     |  1500.00 | 
|  3 | kaushik  |  23 | Kota      |  2000.00 | 
|  4 | Chaitali |  25 | Mumbai    |  6500.00 | 
|  5 | Hardik   |  27 | Bhopal    |  8500.00 | 
|  6 | Komal    |  22 | MP        |  4500.00 | 
+----+----------+-----+-----------+----------+ 

DECLARE 
   CURSOR c_customers is  
      SELECT  name FROM customers;  
   TYPE c_list IS TABLE of customerS.No.ame%type; 
   name_list c_list := c_list(); 
   counter integer :=0; 
BEGIN 
   FOR n IN c_customers LOOP 
      counter := counter +1; 
      name_list.extend; 
      name_list(counter)  := n.name; 
      dbms_output.put_line('Customer('||counter||'):'||name_list(counter)); 
   END LOOP; 
END; 
/ 

When the above code is executed at the SQL prompt, it produces the following result −

Customer(1): Ramesh  
Customer(2): Khilan  
Customer(3): kaushik     
Customer(4): Chaitali  
Customer(5): Hardik  
Customer(6): Komal  

PL/SQL procedure successfully completed. 

Collection Methods

PL/SQL provides the built-in collection methods that make collections easier to use. The following table lists the methods and their purpose −

S.No Method Name & Purpose
1

EXISTS(n)

Returns TRUE if the nth element in a collection exists; otherwise returns FALSE.

2

COUNT

Returns the number of elements that a collection currently contains.

3

LIMIT

Checks the maximum size of a collection.

4

FIRST

Returns the first (smallest) index numbers in a collection that uses the integer subscripts.

5

LAST

Returns the last (largest) index numbers in a collection that uses the integer subscripts.

6

PRIOR(n)

Returns the index number that precedes index n in a collection.

7

NEXT(n)

Returns the index number that succeeds index n.

8

EXTEND

Appends one null element to a collection.

9

EXTEND(n)

Appends n null elements to a collection.

10

EXTEND(n,i)

Appends n copies of the ith element to a collection.

11

TRIM

Removes one element from the end of a collection.

12

TRIM(n)

Removes n elements from the end of a collection.

13

DELETE

Removes all elements from a collection, setting COUNT to 0.

14

DELETE(n)

Removes the nth element from an associative array with a numeric key or a nested table. If the associative array has a string key, the element corresponding to the key value is deleted. If n is null, DELETE(n) does nothing.

15

DELETE(m,n)

Removes all elements in the range m..n from an associative array or nested table. If m is larger than n or if m or n is null, DELETE(m,n) does nothing.

Collection Exceptions

The following table provides the collection exceptions and when they are raised −

Collection Exception Raised in Situations
COLLECTION_IS_NULL You try to operate on an atomically null collection.
NO_DATA_FOUND A subscript designates an element that was deleted, or a nonexistent element of an associative array.
SUBSCRIPT_BEYOND_COUNT A subscript exceeds the number of elements in a collection.
SUBSCRIPT_OUTSIDE_LIMIT A subscript is outside the allowed range.
VALUE_ERROR A subscript is null or not convertible to the key type. This exception might occur if the key is defined as a PLS_INTEGER range, and the subscript is outside this range.


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