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jdavidb (1361)

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J. David Blackstone has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Engineering and nine years of experience at a wireless telecommunications company, where he learned Perl and never looked back. J. David has an advantage in that he works really hard, he has a passion for writing good software, and he knows many of the world's best Perl programmers.

Journal of jdavidb (1361)

Tuesday February 11, 2003
09:06 AM

PL/SQL koolaid

[ #10525 ]

Stephen Feuerstein and Bill Pribyl are enamored of PL/SQL. I guess that's what makes them such incredible wizards. They've authored Oracle PL/SQL Programming, Learning Oracle PL/SQL, and I don't know how many other titles from O'Reilly. PL/SQL has a lot to recommend it, but some of the features of PL/SQL they get ecstatic about are things I expect out of any language: block structure, modularity, and so on. I'd almost expect them to be just as ecstatic about a Turing machine, since you can build all these features on top of it. It's not as if PL/SQL has closures, continuations, built-in hashes, or any of the other things I think can make a language exciting. It only recently got object-orientation and inheritance, and to be honest, I never was that thrilled with inheritance.

Perhaps most telling is Pribyl's dormant attempt at starting an online repository of open-source PL/SQL code. Not surprisingly, he references CPAN for inspiration, suggesting, "[while looking at CPAN,] if you’re not familiar with Perl, marvel at how much more readable PL/SQL is than Perl." Bill, I hold the deepest respect for what you and Steven have done with PL/SQL, exceeding Oracle's wildest dreams by far, but you have been sheltered and apparently just don't "get it." Please ... learn some other languages like Perl and Lisp. Don't let your talent go to waste; stretch it in every direction. It'll make you better PL/SQL programmers, and enrich the collective body of PL/SQL knowledge.

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  • Of course PL/SQL has builtin hashes. It's a table with two columns.

    No I don't know whether I'm being sarcastic or not either.
    • Touche. You win. :)

      J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
    • My point is that they appear to get excited over non-features, like the syntax for a PL/SQL block.

      We used to take a vacation out west every summer, camping most of the time, but stopping every few days in a hotel to clean up and reconnect with civilization. In the states at least, there are certain things expected at a hotel. I remember gawking at hotel signs that advertised "air conditioning" and "color television," because every hotel I ever stayed at had these. It was like advertising that the rooms

      J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
    • DECLARE /* requires Oracle9i or later */
          TYPE hashtable_t IS TABLE OF RAW(128) INDEX BY VARCHAR2(12);
          string_hash hashtable_t;
          string_hash('observation') := '6C6F6F6B73206C696B65206275696C742D696E2068617368696E6720746F206D65';
          string_hash('signature') := '62696C6C2070726962796C';
      • Hi, Bill. Welcome to the site. I'm honored to have attracted your attention.

        Thanks for the books! I'm learning at breakneck pace. The combined experience you and Steve bring to bear is priceless. I recently completed Learning Oracle PL/SQL and was thrilled at all the things I was exposed to; many of those items I would probably never have seen. (And if you search my recent journal entries, you'll find one that amazed some of my coworkers and made me rather popular.)

        Thanks for the hash example. I

        J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
  • Oracle DBA is a full time job, and you rarely get time to do more than the odd shell script for automation.. Maybe its an unfair generalization, but for non-programmers, the cleanness of PL/SQL code is probably a big deal..

    I doubt many people are interested in TIMTOWTDI if it can just get the job done..In the same way that my parents dont really care about the mechanics of email so long as they can mail their friends from time to time :)

    • Oh, I think Feuerstein and Pribyl are all about TIMTOWTDI. They're just missing a lot. They are programmers, btw, not DBAs.

      Currently I take issue with anything that describes PL/SQL as "clean." :) That may change once I speak like a native, though. When I pointed out Pribyl's comment that PL/SQL was more readable than Perl, my point was that he was wrong (though probably for the same reason I don't think PL/SQL is clean: he doesn't speak Perl). Of course, good programmers can write COBOL in any langu

      J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
      • FWIW, I think I speak PL/SQL better than any other language, and I think it is cleaner..

        To me, PL/SQL is like Modula-2 (a Pascal-like language that I learnt in uni).. It forces you to concentrate on certain things and the core language itself is very simple.. Perl, for me, is different.. yes, you CAN write code that is as ordered as PL/SQL, but you dont have to.. Consequently, its more powerful. (rule breaking is a good thing, at times)..

        I didnt know that they (Fuerstein and Pribyl) werent DBAs first and

        • Thanks for the insight. Ask me in a year or so, and I'll be able to offer a more educated opinion as to whether I really think PL/SQL is clean or not. I think what makes me feel it isn't clean is that it's so verbose. Just seems to have tremendously long keywords and a tremendous number of required ones.

          I am pretty certain they are primarily programmers, not DBAs. O'Reilly's DBA books are written by other authors. Feuerstein, I know, was doing Oracle for McDonald's (contract work, I presume), when O'

          J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers