June 17, 2010

Please vote for my Ruby session proposals at Oracle OpenWorld

Filed under: oracle,oracle-enhanced,pl/sql,rails,ruby — Raimonds Simanovskis @ 10:32 am

oow2010.pngI am trying to tell more people at Oracle OpenWorld about Ruby and Rails and how it can be used with Oracle database. Unfortunately my session proposals were rejected by organizers but now there is a second chance to propose sessions at mix.oracle.com and top voted sessions will be accepted for conference. But currently my proposed sessions do not have enough votes :(

I would be grateful if my blog readers and Ruby on Oracle supporters would vote for my sessions Fast Web Applications Development with Ruby on Rails on Oracle and PL/SQL Unit Testing Can Be Fun!.

You need to log in to mix.oracle.com with your oracle.com login (or you should create new one if you don’t have it). And also you need to vote for at least one more session as well (as votes are counted if you have voted for at least 3 sessions). Voting should be done until end of this week (June 20).

And if you have other oracle_enhanced or ruby-plsql users in your
organization then please ask their support as well :)

Thanks in advance!


February 26, 2010

ruby-plsql 0.4.2 – better support for object types and types in packages

Filed under: oracle,pl/sql,ruby — Raimonds Simanovskis @ 6:43 pm

I just released ruby-plsql version 0.4.2 which mainly adds support for more PL/SQL procedure parameter types. See change history file for more detailed list of changes.

Object types and object methods

Now you can use ruby-plsql to construct PL/SQL objects and call methods on these object. For example, if you have the following type defined:

  street    VARCHAR2(50),
  city      VARCHAR2(50),
  country   VARCHAR2(50),
  CONSTRUCTOR FUNCTION t_address(p_full_address VARCHAR2)
  MEMBER FUNCTION display_address(p_separator VARCHAR2 DEFAULT ',') RETURN VARCHAR2,
  MEMBER PROCEDURE set_country(p_country VARCHAR2),
  STATIC FUNCTION create_address(p_full_address VARCHAR2) RETURN t_address

Then you can construct PL/SQL objects and call methods on them:

# call default constructor with named parameters
address = plsql.t_address(:street => 'Street', :city => 'City', :country => 'Country')
# call default constructor with sequential parameters
address = plsql.t_address('Street', 'City', 'Country')
# call custom constructor
address = plsql.t_address('Street, City, Country')
address = plsql.t_address(:p_full_address => 'Street, City, Country')

# returned PL/SQL object is Hash object in Ruby
address == {:street => 'Street', :city => 'City', :country => 'Country'}

# but in addition you can call PL/SQL methods on it
address.display_address == 'Street, City, Country'
address.set_country('Other') == {:street => 'Street', :city => 'City', :country => 'Other'}

# or you can call object member methods also with explicit self parameter
plsql.t_address.display_address(:self => {:street => 'Street', :city => 'City', :country => 'Other'}, :p_separator => ',') == 'Street, City, Country'

# or you can call static methods of type
plsql.t_address.create_address('Street, City, Country') == {:street => 'Street', :city => 'City', :country => 'Country'}

Record types and table of record types inside packages

Now you can call Pl/SQL procedures with parameters which have record or table of record type that is defined inside PL/SQL package. For example if you have the following package:

  TYPE t_employee IS RECORD(
    employee_id   NUMBER(15),
    first_name    VARCHAR2(50),
    last_name     VARCHAR2(50),
    hire_date     DATE
  TYPE t_employees IS TABLE OF t_employee;
  TYPE t_employees2 IS TABLE OF t_employee
  FUNCTION test_employee (p_employee IN t_employee)
    RETURN t_employee;
  FUNCTION test_employees (p_employees IN t_employees)
    RETURN t_employees;
  FUNCTION test_employees2 (p_employees IN t_employees2)
    RETURN t_employees2;

Then you can call these package functions from Ruby:

employee = {
  :employee_id => 1,
  :first_name => 'First',
  :last_name => 'Last',
  :hire_date => Time.local(2010,2,26)
# PL/SQL record corresponds to Ruby Hash
plsql.test_records.test_employee(employee) == employee
# PL/SQL table corresponds to Ruby Array
plsql.test_records.test_employees([employee, employee]) == [employee, employee]
# PL/SQL index-by table corresponds to Ruby Hash
plsql.test_records.test_employees({1 => employee, 2 => employee}) == {1 => employee, 2 => employee}

If you will use table types defined inside PL/SQL packages then ruby-plsql will dynamically create session specific temporary tables which will be used to pass and get table parameter values. To ensure that these session specific temporary tables will be dropped you need to explicitly call plsql.logoff to close connection. For example, if you use ruby-plsql-spec for PL/SQL unit testing then in spec_helper.rb include

at_exit do

to ensure that connection will be closed with plsql.logoff before Ruby script will exit. But in case of some script failure if this was not executed and you notice that there are temporary tables with RUBY_ prefix in your schema then you can call plsql.connection.drop_all_ruby_temporary_tables to drop all temporary tables.

Establish new connection

Now there is simpler connect! method how to establish new ruby-plsql connection when you need a new connection just for ruby-plsql needs. You can do it in several ways:

plsql.connect! username, password, database_tns_alias
plsql.connect! username, password, :host => host, :port => port, :database => database
plsql.connect! :username => username, :password => password, :database => database_tns_alias
plsql.connect! :username => username, :password => password, :host => host, :port => port, :database => database

And the good thing is that this method will work both with MRI 1.8 or 1.9 or with JRuby – you do not need to change the way how you are establishing connection to database.


Now there is simpler way how to define savepoints and how to rollback to savepoint:

plsql.savepoint "before_something"
plsql.rollback_to "before_something"

Check validity of database objects

Now ruby-plsql will check if referenced database object is valid before trying to call it. And if it will not be valid then corresponding compilation error will be displayed. For example, if you have invalid database object:

  l_dummy invalid_table.invalid_column%TYPE;
  RETURN p_dummy;

then when trying to call it


you will get the following error message:

ArgumentError: Database object 'HR.TEST_INVALID_FUNCTION' is not in valid status
Error on line    2:   l_dummy invalid_table.invalid_column%TYPE;
     position   11: PLS-00201: identifier 'INVALID_TABLE.INVALID_COLUMN' must be declared
     position   11: PL/SQL: Item ignored

Other improvements

See History.txt file for other new features and improvements and see RSpec tests in spec directory for more usage examples.

January 6, 2010

Screencasts of Oracle PL/SQL unit testing with Ruby

Filed under: oracle,pl/sql,ruby,screencast,testing — Raimonds Simanovskis @ 4:01 pm

In my previous post I already described how to do Oracle PL/SQL unit testing with Ruby. I now have named it as ruby-plsql-spec unit testing framework. But probably you didn’t want to read such long text or maybe it seemed for you too difficult to try it out therefore I prepared two screencasts to show how easy and fun it is :)

Testing simple function

The first example is based on classic BETWNSTR function example from utPLSQL tutorial.

Load screencast in QuickTime format (4.7 MB).

Testing procedure that changes tables

Second example is based on Quest Code Tester for Oracle testing tables demo screencast. So you can see both unit testing frameworks in action and can compare which you like better :)

Load screencast in QuickTime format (8.1 MB).

Test driven development

In both these screencasts I demonstrated how to do test driven development of PL/SQL

  • Write little test of indended functionality before writing code.
  • Write implementation of new functionality until this test passes and verify that all existing tests pass as well.
  • Refactor implementation when needed and verify that all tests still pass.

From my experience TDD style of development can improve design and testability of code and also make you think before coding what you actually want to implement. But existing visual PL/SQL testing tools (Quest Code Tester, SQL Developer 2.1) do not quite support TDD style of development, they expect that there is already existing code that should be tested. Therefore this is one more ruby-plsql-spec advantage if you would like to do TDD style development in PL/SQL.

More information

Examples shown in screencasts are available in ruby-plsql-spec GitHub repository. And if you want to see more examples how to use ruby-plsql library for PL/SQL unit testing then you can take a look at ruby-plsql own RSpec tests or read previous posts about ruby-plsql.

January 4, 2010

ruby-plsql 0.4.1 – support for package variables, views, dbms_output and more

Filed under: oracle,pl/sql,ruby — Raimonds Simanovskis @ 11:40 pm

Based on feedback from using ruby-plsql for PL/SQL unit testing I have release new version 0.4.1 with several new features. You can read about initial versions of ruby-plsql in previous blog posts.

Package variables

When you call methods on “plsql” Ruby object then ruby-plsql uses all_procedures and all_arguments data dictionary views to search for procedures and their argument metadata to construct corresponding PL/SQL block for execution. Unfortunately there are no corresponding data dictionary views for package variables (sometimes called “global variables”) that are defined in package specifications. Therefore there was no support for package variables in initial ruby-plsql versions.

But as there is quite frequent need in PL/SQL tests to set and get package variable values then I created the following solution for accessing package variables. I assume that typically package variables are defined in one line in package specifications and I scan PL/SQL package specification source in all_source data dictionary view for potential package variable definitions.

As a result if you have the following example of package specification:

  varchar2_variable VARCHAR2(50);
  number_variable NUMBER(15,2);
  string_constant CONSTANT  VARCHAR2(10) := 'constant';
  integer_constant CONSTANT INTEGER := 1;

then you can access these package variables in the same way as procedures:

plsql.test_package.varchar2_variable = 'test'
plsql.test_package.number_variable = 123
plsql.test_package.varchar2_variable # => 'test'
plsql.test_package.number_variable # => 123
plsql.test_package.string_constant # => 'constant'
plsql.test_package.integer_constant # => 1

Other basic data types as well as %ROWTYPE, %TYPE and schema object types are also supported for package variables. Only custom types defined in package specification are not supported (they are not supported for procedure parameters as well). As there are no data dictionary views for types defined in package specifications I don’t feel very enthusiastic about parsing package sources from all_source to get information about types defined inside packages :)


In previous post I described how to use ruby-plsql to perform basic table operations. Now these operations can be performed also with views:


insert_values method

Additional insert_values method is added for tables and views which can be helpful in PL/SQL tests for test data preparation. You can specify with more compact syntax which data you would like to insert into table or view:

plsql.employees.insert_values [:employee_id, :first_name, :last_name],
    [1, 'First', 'Last'],
    [2, 'Second', 'Last']

# => INSERT INTO employees (employee_id, first_name, last_name) VALUES (1, 'First', 'Last')
# => INSERT INTO employees (employee_id, first_name, last_name) VALUES (2, 'Second', 'Last')


If you use DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE in your PL/SQL procedures to log some debug messages then you can use plsql.dbms_output_stream= method to set where these messages should be displayed. Use the following to display DBMS_OUTPUT messages in standard output:

plsql.dbms_output_stream = STDOUT

Or write DBMS_OUTPUT messages to file:

plsql.dbms_output_stream = File.new('debug.log', 'w')

STANDARD package procedures

Procedures from SYS.STANDARD package can be called without sys.standard prefix, e.g.:


Other improvements

See History.txt file for other new features and improvements and see RSpec tests in spec directory for more usage examples.

And also this version of ruby-plsql requires ruby-oci8 gem latest version 2.0.3 (if you use MRI / standard Ruby interpreter 1.8.6, 1.8.7 or 1.9.1) so please upgrade it as well if you do not have it. But as previously you can use ruby-plsql with JRuby and Oracle JDBC driver as well.

November 27, 2009

Oracle PL/SQL unit testing with Ruby

Filed under: oracle,pl/sql,ruby — Raimonds Simanovskis @ 2:18 pm

Current PL/SQL unit testing options

Unit testing and TDD (test driven development) practices are nowadays one of the key software development practices. It is especially important if you are doing agile software development in small iterations where you need to automate unit testing as much as possible, as you cannot do manual regression testing of all existing and new functionality at the end of each iteration.

In some languages (like Java, Ruby, Python, C# etc.) there is quite good tools and frameworks support for unit testing and as a result there is quite high testing culture among top developers in these communities. But unfortunately in PL/SQL community so far automated unit testing is not used very often. During recent Oracle OpenWorld conference in presentations about unit testing when it was asked who is doing automated unit testing then only few hands were raised.

Why is it so? And what are current options for doing automated PL/SQL unit testing?

The first unit testing framework for PL/SQL was utPLSQL which was created by Steven Feuerstein and based on API defined by many other xUnit style frameworks (like e.g. JUnit). But the issue with this approach was that PL/SQL syntax for tests was quite verbose and tests were not very readable (see example). As a result Steven stopped developing further utPLSQL and currently there are no other active maintainers of this project. There are some other alternative frameworks which tried to simplify writing tests in PL/SQL (OUnit, pl/unit, PLUTO etc.) but none of them are very actively used and maintained by PL/SQL community.

Because of the issues with utPLSQL Steven Feuerstein started development of graphical interface tool for PL/SQL unit testing which is now Quest Code Tester for Oracle. This tool is actively developed and maintained by Quest Software but there are several issues with it:

  • It is a commercial tool and as a result it will not become widely accepted by all PL/SQL developers. There is also a freeware edition of it but the functionality of it is very limited.
  • It is a graphical tool – it can help you with quick creation of simple tests but when you will need more complex logic you might get stuck that you cannot do it (or you need to do it again in plain PL/SQL and have the same issues as in utPLSQL).
  • It stores tests in database repository – and it means that it might be hard to maintain unit tests in version control system like Subversion or Git.

And finally also Oracle started to do something in PL/SQL unit testing area and there is unit testing support in latest SQL Developer version 2.1 which currently still is in early adopter status. SQL Developer has very similar approach to Quest Code Tester – it is graphical tool which stores tests and test results in repository. So the benefit of SQL Developer over Quest Code Tester is that it is free :) But compared to Quest Code Tester it still has less features (e.g. currently not all complex data types are supported) and still is not released as final version and still has bugs.

Ruby as testing tool for PL/SQL

As you probably know I am quite big Ruby fan and always exploring new ways how to use Ruby to increase my productivity. And Ruby community has very high testing culture and has many good tools for testing support (I like and use RSpec testing framework). Therefore some time ago I started to use Ruby and RSpec also for testing PL/SQL code in our projects where we use Ruby on Rails on top of Oracle databases with existing PL/SQL business logic.

I have created ruby-plsql library which provides very easy API for calling PL/SQL procedures from Ruby and recent ruby-plsql version supports majority of PL/SQL data types.

So let’s start with with simple example how to use Ruby, RSpec and ruby-plsql to create PL/SQL procedure unit test. I will use BETWNSTR procedure example from utPLSQL examples:

   string_in   IN   VARCHAR2,
   start_in    IN   INTEGER,
   end_in      IN   INTEGER
   l_start PLS_INTEGER := start_in;
   IF l_start = 0
      l_start := 1;
   END IF;
   RETURN (SUBSTR (string_in, l_start, end_in - l_start + 1));

I took example tests from utPLSQL and wrote them in Ruby and RSpec:

describe "Between string" do
  it "should be correct in normal case" do
    plsql.betwnstr('abcdefg', 2, 5).should == 'bcde'
  it "should be correct with zero start value" do
    plsql.betwnstr('abcdefg', 0, 5).should == 'abcde'
  it "should be correct with way big end value" do
    plsql.betwnstr('abcdefg', 5, 500).should == 'efg'
  it "should be correct with NULL string" do
    plsql.betwnstr(nil, 5, 500).should be_nil

As you can see the tests are much shorter than in utPLSQL and are much more readable (also more readable than utPLSQL template which can be used to generate utPLSQL tests). And also you can create these tests faster than using GUI tools like Quest Code Tester or SQL Developer.

More complex example

Second more complex example I took from SQL Developer unit testing tutorial. We will create tests for PL/SQL procedure AWARD_BONUS:

 PROCEDURE award_bonus (
  emp_id NUMBER, sales_amt NUMBER) AS
  commission    REAL;
  comm_missing  EXCEPTION;
  SELECT commission_pct INTO commission
    FROM employees2
      WHERE employee_id = emp_id;
  IF commission IS NULL THEN
    RAISE comm_missing;
    UPDATE employees2
      SET salary = NVL(salary,0) + sales_amt*commission
        WHERE employee_id = emp_id;
END award_bonus;

I didn’t quite like the testing approach in SQL Developer unit testing tutorial – it was assuming that there is already specific data in employees2 table and was testing procedure using specific primary key values. As a result tests are not very readable as you cannot see all input data in the test case and tests could easily broke if initial data in table are different.

Therefore I created tests in Ruby using better approach that each test creates all necessary data that are needed for it and at the end of test there are no side effects which can influence other tests:

describe "Award bonus" do
  include CustomerFactory
  [ [1000,  1234.55,  0.10,   1123.46],
    [nil,   1234.56,  0.10,   123.46],
    [1000,  1234.54,  0.10,   1123.45]
  ].each do |salary, sales_amt, commission_pct, result|
    it "should calculate base salary #{salary.inspect} + sales amount #{sales_amt} * commission percentage #{commission_pct} = salary #{result.inspect}" do
      employee = create_employee(
        :commission_pct => commission_pct,
        :salary => salary
      plsql.award_bonus(employee[:employee_id], sales_amt)
      get_employee(employee[:employee_id])[:salary].should == result

I am generating three different tests with three different sets of input values. When you run these tests you see result:

Award bonus
- should calculate base salary 1000 + sales amount 1234.55 * commission percentage 0.1 = salary 1123.46
- should calculate base salary NULL + sales amount 1234.56 * commission percentage 0.1 = salary 123.46
- should calculate base salary 1000 + sales amount 1234.54 * commission percentage 0.1 = salary 1123.45

In addition I am using factory pattern (create_customer method) for test data creation. When using factory pattern you create test data creation method which will create valid new record with default field values. If in your test you need some specific non-default values then you can pass just these values as parameters to factory method. Factory pattern also helps in the maintenance of tests. For example, if new mandatory columns will be added to employees table then it will be necessary to add new fields with default values in factory methods and nothing should be changed in individual tests.

Here is example of employee factory implementation:

module EmployeeFactory
  # Creates new employee with valid field values.
  # Pass in parameters only field values that you want to override.
  def create_employee(params)
    employee = {
      :employee_id => plsql.employees2_seq.nextval,
      :last_name => 'Last',
      :email => 'last@example.com',
      :hire_date => Date.today,
      :job_id => plsql.jobs.first[:job_id],
      :commission_pct => nil,
      :salary => nil
    plsql.employees2.insert employee
    get_employee employee[:employee_id]
  # Select employee by primary key
  def get_employee(employee_id)
    plsql.employees2.first :employee_id => employee_id

And here is additional test for testing if procedure will raise exception if one input value is missing:

  it "should raise ORA-06510 exception if commission percentage is missing" do
    salary, sales_amt, commission_pct = 1000,  1234.55,  nil
    employee = create_employee(
      :commission_pct => commission_pct,
      :salary => salary
    lambda do
      plsql.award_bonus(employee[:employee_id], sales_amt)
    end.should raise_error(/ORA-06510/)

How to use it

I hope that if you are looking for PL/SQL unit testing tool then you will try this out :) You can get examples from this article together with necessary setup code and installation instructions at http://github.com/rsim/ruby-plsql-spec.

If you have any feedback or questions or feature suggestions then please comment.

November 25, 2009

More Oracle data types supported by ruby-plsql gem

Filed under: jruby,oracle,pl/sql,ruby — Raimonds Simanovskis @ 4:34 pm

I have just released ruby-plsql gem version 0.4.0 which provides many new features. You can read about initial versions of ruby-plsql in previous blog posts.

Oracle complex data type support

Initial versions of ruby-plsql supported just simple Oracle types like NUMBER, VARCHAR2, DATE, TIMESTAMP, CLOB, BLOB as PL/SQL procedure parameters. Now support for many more complex data types is added. See examples below how to call PL/SQL procedures with these complex data types.

PL/SQL Record

Let’s assume you have PL/SQL procedure with PL/SQL record type parameter (which most typically will be in table%ROWTYPE format):

CREATE TABLE test_employees (
          employee_id   NUMBER(15),
          first_name    VARCHAR2(50),
          last_name     VARCHAR2(50),
          hire_date     DATE
CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION test_full_name (p_employee test_employees%ROWTYPE)
  RETURN p_employee.first_name || ' ' || p_employee.last_name;

Then you can create Ruby Hash with record field values (specifying field names as Symbols), e.g.:

p_employee = {
  :employee_id => 1,
  :first_name => 'First',
  :last_name => 'Last',
  :hire_date => Time.local(2000,01,31)

and pass this Hash as a parameter which will be translated to PL/SQL record parameter by ruby-plsql:

plsql.test_full_name(p_employee) #=> "First Last"
# or
plsql.test_full_name(:p_employee => p_employee) #=> "First Last"

In the same way you can get PL/SQL function return values or output parameter values as Hash values.

Object type

In similar way also object type parameters can be passed as Hash values. In this case also nested objects or nested collections of objects are supported:

  street    VARCHAR2(50),
  city      VARCHAR2(50),
  country   VARCHAR2(50)
  type            VARCHAR2(10),
  phone_number    VARCHAR2(50)
  employee_id   NUMBER(15),
  first_name    VARCHAR2(50),
  last_name     VARCHAR2(50),
  hire_date     DATE,
  address       t_address,
  phones        t_phones
CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION test_full_name (p_employee t_employee)
  RETURN p_employee.first_name || ' ' || p_employee.last_name;

and from Ruby side you can call this PL/SQL function as:

p_employee = {
  :employee_id => 1,
  :first_name => 'First',
  :last_name => 'Last',
  :hire_date => Time.local(2000,01,31),
  :address => {:street => 'Main street 1', :city => 'Riga', :country => 'Latvia'},
  :phones => [{:type => 'mobile', :phone_number => '123456'}, {:type => 'home', :phone_number => '654321'}]
plsql.test_full_name(p_employee) #=> "First Last"
# or
plsql.test_full_name(:p_employee => p_employee) #=> "First Last"

And also object type return values and output parameters will be returned as Ruby Hash values (with nested Hashes or Arrays if necessary).

There is one limitation that these object types should be defined as database types and not just inside PL/SQL package definition. Unfortunately you cannot access type definitions inside packages from OCI or JDBC drivers and as a result cannot call such procedures from outside of PL/SQL.

TABLE and VARRAY collections

TABLE and VARRAY collection parameters can be passed as Array values:

CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION test_sum (p_numbers IN t_numbers)
  l_sum   NUMBER(15) := 0;
  IF p_numbers.COUNT > 0 THEN
    FOR i IN p_numbers.FIRST..p_numbers.LAST LOOP
      IF p_numbers.EXISTS(i) THEN
        l_sum := l_sum + p_numbers(i);
      END IF;
    RETURN l_sum;

And from Ruby side:

plsql.test_sum([1,2,3,4]) #=> 10


You can get also cursor return values from PL/SQL procedures:

  l_cursor  SYS_REFCURSOR;
  OPEN l_cursor FOR
  SELECT * FROM test_employees ORDER BY employee_id;
  RETURN l_cursor;

can be called from Ruby in the following way:

plsql.test_cursor do |cursor|
  cursor.fetch #=> first row from test_employees will be returned

It is important to pass block parameter in this case and do something with returned cursor within this block as after ruby-plsql finishes PL/SQL procedure call it will close all open cursors and therefore it will not be possible to do anything with returned cursor outside this block.

It is also possible to use returned cursor as input parameter for another PL/SQL procedure:

  RETURN test_employees%ROWTYPE
  l_record  test_employees%ROWTYPE;
  FETCH p_cursor INTO l_record;
  RETURN l_record;
plsql.test_cursor do |cursor|
  plsql.test_cursor_fetch(cursor) #=> first record as Hash

Note: you can pass cursors as PL/SQL procedure input parameter just when using ruby-plsql on MRI 1.8/1.9 with ruby-oci8, unfortunately I have not found a way how to pass cursor as input parameter when using JRuby and JDBC.


And finally you can use also PL/SQL BOOLEAN type – it is quite tricky data type as it is supported just by PL/SQL but not supported as data type in Oracle tables. But now you can also use it with ruby-plsql:

  ( p_boolean BOOLEAN )
  RETURN p_boolean;
plsql.test_boolean(true) #=> true

You can find more PL/SQL procedure call usage examples in ruby-plsql RSpec tests.

Table and sequence operations

I have been using and promoting to others ruby-plsql as PL/SQL procedure unit testing tool. As current PL/SQL unit testing tools are not so advanced and easy to use as Ruby unit testing tools then I like better to use Ruby testing tools (like RSpec) together with ruby-plsql to write short and easy to understand PL/SQL unit tests.

In unit tests in setup and teardown methods you typically need some easy way how to create some sample data in necessary tables as well as to validate resulting data in tables after test execution.

If you are Ruby on Rails developer then you probably will use ActiveRecord (or DataMapper) for manipulation of table data. But if Ruby is used just for unit tests then probably ActiveRecord would be too complicated for this task.

Therefore I added some basic table operations to ruby-plsql which might be useful e.g. in unit tests. Some syntax ideas for these table operations are coming from Sequel Ruby library.


# insert one record
employee = { :employee_id => 1, :first_name => 'First', :last_name => 'Last', :hire_date => Time.local(2000,01,31) }
plsql.employees.insert employee # INSERT INTO employees VALUES (1, 'First', 'Last', ...)
# insert many records 
employees = [employee1, employee2, ... ]  # array of many Hashes
plsql.employees.insert employees

If primary key values should be selected from sequence then you can get next sequence values with

plsql.employees_seq.nextval # SELECT employees_seq.NEXTVAL FROM dual
plsql.employees_seq.currval # SELECT employees_seq.CURRVAL FROM dual


# select one record
plsql.employees.first # SELECT * FROM employees
                      # fetch first row => {:employee_id => ..., :first_name => '...', ...}
plsql.employees.first(:employee_id => 1)  # SELECT * FROM employees WHERE employee_id = 1
plsql.employees.first("WHERE employee_id = 1")
plsql.employees.first("WHERE employee_id = :employee_id", 1)
# select many records
plsql.employees.all                       # => [{...}, {...}, ...]
plsql.employees.all(:order_by => :employee_id)
plsql.employees.all("WHERE employee_id > :employee_id", 5)
# count records
plsql.employees.count                     # SELECT COUNT(*) FROM employees
plsql.employees.count("WHERE employee_id > :employee_id", 5)


# update records
plsql.employees.update(:first_name => 'Second', :where => {:employee_id => 1})
                      # UPDATE employees SET first_name = 'Second' WHERE employee_id = 1


# delete records
plsql.employees.delete(:employee_id => 1) # DELETE FROM employees WHERE employee_id = 1

Other SQL statements

Any other SELECT statement can be executed with

plsql.select :first, "SELECT ..."
# or
plsql.select :all, "SELECT ..."

or any other non-SELECT SQL statement can be executed with

plsql.execute "..."

And also COMMIT or ROLLBACK could be executed simply with


I plan to write a separate blog post about how I recommend to create PL/SQL unit tests using Ruby and ruby-plsql and RSpec.


As always you can install latest version of ruby-plsql with

gem install ruby-plsql

Latest gem version is just on Gemcutter but now it should be available as default gem source for all Ruby installations.

And as always ruby-plsql is supported both on

  • Ruby 1.8.6/1.8.7 or Ruby 1.9.1 with ruby-oci8 gem version 2.0.3 or later (some specific issues with complex data types will be fixed in later versions of ruby-oci8)
  • JRuby 1.3/1.4 with Oracle JDBC driver (testing mainly with ojdbc14.jar but also ojdbc5.jar or ojdbc6.jar should be fine)

Please try it out and tell me if there are any issues with some particular data types or if there are still some unsupported PL/SQL data types that you would like to be supported in ruby-plsql. And also I encourage you to try ruby-plsql out for PL/SQL unit testing if you had no PL/SQL unit tests previously :)

April 21, 2009

ruby-plsql new version – Ruby 1.9.1 support and more

Filed under: jruby,oracle,pl/sql,rails,ruby — Raimonds Simanovskis @ 1:20 pm

I have released ruby-plsql gem (Ruby API for Oracle PL/SQL procedure calls) new version 0.3.0 which includes several new features.

Ruby 1.9.1

Probably the most important is support for Ruby 1.9.1 – now you can use both Oracle enhanced adapter and ruby-plsql gem on all three major Ruby plaforms:

  • MRI 1.8.6 with ruby-oci8 1.0.x library or gem
  • Ruby/YARV 1.9.1 with ruby-oci8 2.0 library or gem (currently just trunk version of ruby-oci8 2.0 contains the last bug fixes for Ruby 1.9.1)
  • JRuby (so far tested with 1.1.6) with JDBC Oracle driver

ActiveRecord connection

In addition usage of ruby-plsql gem in Ruby on Rails project is simplified. Now you can include in environment.rb or some initializer file just:

plsql.activerecord_class = ActiveRecord::Base

and you don’t need to specify plsql.connection anymore – it will always use current ActiveRecord connection. This is also useful when ActiveRecord reestablishes connection to database as you don’t need to reestablish plsql connection in this case.

In addition if you use several different connections to Oracle database then you can assign to plsql.activerecord_class also different class that inherits from ActiveRecord::Base and has connection to different database.

Database time zone

Also you can also specify in which timezone DATE values are stored in database:

plsql.default_timezone = :local


plsql.default_timezone = :utc

This will affect how DATE values (without timezone) will be converted to Time or DateTime values (with timezone), default selection is :local timezone. If you have set plsql.activerecord_class then the value will be taken from ActiveRecord::Base.default_timezone.

BLOB support

You can now use BLOB data type for input and output parameters and function return values.
I remind you that also NUMBER, VARCHAR2, DATE, TIMESTAMP and CLOB data types are supported,

Synonym support

Now you can also use private and public database synonyms to functions or procedures or packages.
E.g. if ORA_LOGIN_USER is public database synonym to SYS.LOGIN_USER function then instead of


you can use



To install the gem as always do

sudo gem install ruby-plsql

or call the correct gem command version for JRuby or Ruby 1.9.1.

Source code of ruby-plsql is located at GitHub where you can find usage examples in RSpec tests.

July 10, 2008

Custom ActiveRecord create, add and delete methods for legacy databases

Filed under: oracle,oracle-enhanced,pl/sql,rails,ruby — Raimonds Simanovskis @ 7:08 pm

In some Ruby on Rails projects I am putting ActiveRecord interface on top of existing legacy databases. It is quite easy to specify legacy table names and primary keys in ActiveRecord models so that ActiveRecord would generate correct SQL SELECT statements to read data from legacy databases.

But it is more difficult to insert, update and delete in legacy databases using ActiveRecord. When using Oracle legacy databases then quite often they have exposed PL/SQL APIs for writing to tables and you are typically not allowed to directly modify tables with INSERT, UPDATE and DELETE statements.

Therefore I created support for custom create, update and delete methods in the version 1.1.3 of ActiveRecord Oracle enhanced adapter which uses also my ruby-plsql gem.

Let’s look at the following example. Assume that we have the following table:

      CREATE TABLE test_employees (
        employee_id   NUMBER(6,0),
        first_name    VARCHAR2(20),
        last_name     VARCHAR2(25),
        hire_date     DATE,
        salary        NUMBER(8,2),
        version       NUMBER(15,0),
        create_time   DATE,
        update_time   DATE

And we have the following PL/SQL API package that should be used to write to this table:

      CREATE OR REPLACE PACKAGE test_employees_pkg IS
        PROCEDURE create_employee(
            p_first_name    VARCHAR2,
            p_last_name     VARCHAR2,
            p_hire_date     DATE,
            p_salary        NUMBER,
            p_employee_id   OUT NUMBER);
        PROCEDURE update_employee(
            p_employee_id   NUMBER,
            p_first_name    VARCHAR2,
            p_last_name     VARCHAR2,
            p_hire_date     DATE,
            p_salary        NUMBER);
        PROCEDURE delete_employee(
            p_employee_id   NUMBER);

Then we define ActiveRecord model in the following way:

    class TestEmployee < ActiveRecord::Base
      set_primary_key :employee_id
      # should return ID of new record
      set_create_method do
          :p_first_name => first_name,
          :p_last_name => last_name,
          :p_hire_date => hire_date,
          :p_salary => salary,
          :p_employee_id => nil
      # return value is ignored
      set_update_method do
          :p_employee_id => id,
          :p_first_name => first_name,
          :p_last_name => last_name,
          :p_hire_date => hire_date,
          :p_salary => salary
      # return value is ignored
      set_delete_method do
          :p_employee_id => id

And as a result we can use this model in the same way as other ActiveRecord models:

    @employee = TestEmployee.create(
      :first_name => "First",
      :last_name => "Last",
      :hire_date => Date.today
    @employee.first_name = "Second"

And all writing to the database will be done using defined API procedures.

Currently this functionality is embedded into Oracle enhanced adapter but if somebody needs it also for other databases this functionality could easily be extraced from the adapter.

To get the new release of Oracle enhanced adapter just do:

sudo gem install activerecord-oracle_enhanced-adapter

Source code of Oracle enhanced adapter is located at GitHub and you can submit bug reports and enhancement requests in Lighthouse.

June 26, 2008

ruby-plsql gem now supports JRuby and Oracle JDBC driver

Filed under: jruby,oracle,pl/sql,ruby — Raimonds Simanovskis @ 9:11 pm

Some time ago I created ruby-plsql gem which provides simple Ruby API for Oracle PL/SQL stored procedures.

Initially this gem supported just MRI with ruby-oci8 library which provides connectivity to Oracle database as this was my main development and production environment for Ruby & Oracle applications. But as JRuby is fast growing alternative Ruby deployment platform and as it can be integrated into Oracle Fusion middleware platform (e.g. Oracle Mix is running on JRuby on Oracle Fusion middleware) then I planned to support JRuby as well.

I started to work on JRuby support during RailsConf JRuby hackfest and initially this did not seem very hard task for me. But as I did not know JDBC very well it took me much more time than initially planned. And unfortunately JDBC is also much less powerful compared to ruby-oci8 library for construction of dynamic PL/SQL calls. In addition I needed to strugle with Ruby and JDBC data type mappings which differs from Ruby and ruby-oci8 data type mappings.

But finally I have completed JRuby support and released ruby-plsql gem version 0.2.0. And good news are that from usage perspective ruby-plsql behaves identically on MRI and JRuby – at least my RSpec tests are telling so.

To install this gem on JRuby execute

sudo jruby -S gem install ruby-plsql


sudo jgem install ruby-plsql

depending on how you have installed JRuby on your computer.

Source code of ruby-plsql is located on GitHub where you can find usage examples in RSpec tests.

March 15, 2008

ruby-plsql gem: simple Ruby API for PL/SQL procedures

Filed under: oracle,pl/sql,ruby — Raimonds Simanovskis @ 11:44 pm

In several projects I have used Ruby and Rails to access legacy Oracle databases which have both tables with data as well as PL/SQL packages with lot of existing business logic. Sometimes it is easier just to redo business logic in Ruby but sometimes you need to reuse existing PL/SQL packages and procedures.

Let’s use this simple PL/SQL function as an example:

  ( p_string VARCHAR2 )
  RETURN UPPER(p_string);
END test_uppercase;

If you are using ruby-oci8 library to connect to Oracle then you can call this PL/SQL procedure from Ruby in the following way (more details can be found in ruby-oci8 documentation):

conn = OCI8.new("hr","hr","xe")
cursor = conn.parse <<-EOS
  :return := test_uppercase(:p_string);
puts cursor[':return']

This does not look like Ruby-style as it is too long and complex code which just calls one simple PL/SQL function :(

Wouldn’t it be much nicer if you could get the same result with the following code?

plsql.connection = OCI8.new("hr","hr","xe")
puts plsql.test_uppercase('xxx')

This idea served as inspiration to create ruby-plsql gem which would provide such nice Ruby API to access existing PL/SQL procedures and functions. Here are other examples how you can use it.

Call procedure with named parameters:

plsql.test_uppercase(:p_string => 'xxx')

Call procedure with specified schema:


Call procedure from specified package in specified schema:


Call procedure with output arguments:

plsql.test_copy("abc", nil, nil) # returns output arguments { :p_to => "abc", :p_to_double => "abcabc" }

To install this gem execute

sudo gem install ruby-plsql

As I mentioned before it also requires ruby-oci8 library to access Oracle. I have plans to create JRuby / JDBC support in the future versions of this gem.

Current limitation is that this API support just NUMBER, VARCHAR2, DATE and TIMESTAMP types for PL/SQL procedures which are dinamically mapped to Ruby Fixnum/Bignum/Float, String, DateTime and Time types.

If you find this gem interesting then please let me know in comments what additional features you would like to have for it.

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