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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • I'm a reluctant lover of PL/SQL. I have an orange O'Reilly Oracle shelf sitting in front of me that's about two and a half feet wide. At one time, I'd read about a third of these all the way through and had plans to finish the rest, but then I needed less Oracle, and now in my new job I currently don't need it at all. (But with this prominent shelf, when we do need Oracle, they'll know which employee to go to. :) )

    I felt a deep, visceral agreement when you said "Instinctively, I found the idea of a custom proprietary mini-language repulsive." That's how I looked at PL/SQL at first. It's mainly a bad idea. But in this case it just so happens it works out well. PL/SQL is integrated into the database in a way that is actually very pleasant and useful. Sometimes I can't imagine it being any different, because even though I can imagine improvements, I'm not sure anything else would be so well integrated.

    As someone else said, PostgreSQL has something that looks a lot like PL/SQL, and I think that might be a better place to compare and see how well the languages are integrated. It's kind of like comparing the way Perl includes regular expressions with the way other languages try to include it as a library. Yes, you can run Java inside your Oracle database, or TCL inside your PostgreSQL database. But I think the database functionality is always going to feel "bolted on" to those languages in a way that will never happen in PL/SQL.

    PL/SQL is a language worth learning. You may never rant and rave about it as much as Stephen Feuerstein (who's branched out recently and written the first book about MySQL stored procedures, I noticed), but that's only because you know that when he brags about how pretty PL/SQL is it's because he doesn't know how to compare it properly to Perl. But you will see some really good design decisions.

    J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
    • My original database experience order was MySQL -> Oracle -> Postgres.

      Once I discovered Oracle, I realised how dodgy MySQL truly was, and Postgres for me has always been a less corporatey, less thorough, but slightly more sane version of Oracle.

      I do like that you can relatively cleanly mix SQL syntax with the Ada-like coding in Oracle PL/SQL. The parsing implications (how complex their parser must be to deal with it) are amazing.

      I see where Microsoft copied their idea from for doing the same in C#.