Sunday, March 26, 2017

Too Easy for a Post: Install Oracle 12.2 with Vagrant

If you like the simplicity of Docker, but would like to continue with Virtualbox, then Vagrant is for you. After the conference in Dublin,  OUG Ireland, I got this challenge:

Not much of a challenge, of course, since he has done all the work, it is just "Download and Go". Just follow the instructions in the README part on the page linked to in his Tweet. I did this on my Mac at the airport (I found a downloaded copy of 12.2 after all). The only comment I could make is that the git command creates a directory (oracle-12.2-vagrant) and you copy the downloaded zip file ( into that directory.

In the oracle-12.2-vagrant directory there is of course the Vagrantfile that you can edit if you want. In case you have a listener already running on port 1521, you can easily change the Vagrantfile so the port 1521 from the VM will be forwarded to another port. I actually just did vagrant up on my server at home when preparing for this post, and it failed because port 1521 was already in use. No problem, just edit Vagrantfile (line number 19), and repeat the command, nothing to clean up first.

Do check out this blog post that came out today:  Oracle Linux Vagrant boxes by Mikael Sandström. He has been using Vagrant a lot and actually created a box for many versions of Oracle Linux. Which means that if you want to try an upgrade on one specific version of Oracle Linux you can use one of his boxes easily.  There are some other useful tips on Vagrant in the post too.

I will continue to play around with both Docker and VirtualBox/Vagrant. Creating new lab environments has become very easy so we can focus on more important stuff than just installing software.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Adding Examples to a Docker Container with Oracle database 12.2

Oracle Database 12.2 became available for download last week. This weekend I've been playing with Docker and created a container with it. The whole process is so easy, thanks to the work by Gerald Venzl at Oracle. You'll find all the information you need in his blog post. Though the post is for version, the dockerfiles have already been updated for, and you can download it from Github using the link he provides in the post.

It takes sometime to create a container (depending on your hardware, of course), so when I discovered that the examples / demos that are distributed in another file were not included, I decided to try to add it to the running container.  It is easy, just download the file and copy it into the running container, which in my case is named ora12.2:

docker cp ora12.2:/tmp

Also unzip a copy of the included response file locally:
unzip -j -d /tmp \

Edit it and change the variables so they look like this:


Copy it to the container:
docker cp /tmp/demos_install.rsp ora12.2:/tmp

Connect to your container with a command similar to this (again, ora12.2 is the name of my container):

docker exec -ti ora12.2 /bin/bash

Inside the container, unzip the transferred zip file and start the installation with:

cd /tmp
cd examples
./runInstaller -silent -force -waitforcompletion \
-responsefile /tmp/demos_install.rsp  -ignoresysprereqs -ignoreprereq

You can now verify that you have more demos installed, for instance under $ORACLE_HOME/md/demo.

Of course you can achieve the same effect by adding a few lines to the Dockerfile, build, and run again. Something like this should do for the Dockerfile:

# Added install of examples 
ENV EXAMPLE_RSP="demos_install.rsp" \
RUN cd /tmp && \
  unzip && \
  cd examples && \
  ./runInstaller -silent -force -waitforcompletion \
  -responsefile /tmp/demos_install.rsp  -ignoresysprereqs -ignoreprereq

It turned out to run just as fast since the new build builds on the previous images, oh well.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Splitting a String into Elements

Every 4 months or so I need a simple way to split a string (VARCHAR2) into elements, where the elements are separated with some fixed value (a comma, a colon, or perhaps a longer string). Since my short-term memory is too short0, I figured I should make a reminder here. Of course, you'll find this on Stackoverflow as well.

There is this function in APEX, which is usually1 available for you in the database, even if you are not using APEX. Here is a short demo:

  l_elements_arr apex_application_global.vc_arr2;
  l_str varchar2(2000) := 'IPA***Stout***Porter***Pale Ale';
  l_sep varchar2(10) := '***';
  l_elements_arr := apex_util.string_to_table(l_str, l_sep);
  for i in 1..l_elements_arr.count loop
  end loop;
  l_str := apex_util.table_to_string(l_elements_arr,'|');

The variables for the string and the separator can of course be part of a procedure / function. Also not that the separator can have more than one character. I used three stars because beer is probably good for you.

Another demo inspired by this Oracle blog post:
  l_str varchar2(100) := 'I$$bought$$a$$3D printer$$this weekend';
  l_sep varchar2(10) := '$$';
  l_exp varchar2(200) := '[^' || l_sep || ']+' ;
  for e in (select regexp_substr(l_str,l_exp, 1, level) str
    from dual
    connect by regexp_substr(l_str,l_exp, 1, level) is not null) loop
  end loop;

Since the work is done by the SQL statement in the FOR-LOOP, you can easily use this in pure SQL as well.

0) Let's just say that my buffer cache has surrendered space to the library cache, because there is so much interesting stuff going on, and all that parsing takes space. 
1) "Usually", because APEX is installed when creating the database, unless you deselect one of the standard components, which would, in almost all cases (that is, more often than what "usually" means), would be a mistake. If you regret your mistake, just download the latest version and install it. That will take less time than it takes to teach me write proper sentences with an adequate use of strange words, and commas.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

ORA-1722 and Regular Expressions

Yesterday I was importing some data I downloaded. When creating a new table I tried to convert two columns with latitude and longitude, stored as VARCHAR2, to numbers (in order to use them in the SDO_GEOMETRY constructor). The create table as select (CTAS) statement failed with ORA-01722. Problem is it does not tell you which line or what value is the offender. You may turn on some tracing with event 1722, but using regular expression is much easier:

select longitude 
from data_import
where regexp_instr(longitude,'\d+.\d{7}') = 0;

This will show you rows that does match the format used in the to_number function. Which in this case was '99.9999999'. Turned out that some of the rows had "(blank)" in them... they were updated to NULL.

Oracle database has support for regular expressions in theses functions:

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Delete Cascade with Recursive PL/SQL

If you need to delete all rows in a table that has parent keys for other tables' foreign keys, and the foreign keys constraints have not been defined with "on delete cascade", you can do a recursive delete with the following simple procedure.

This is typically something you will do only in a test or development database, and not in production. As always, it is a good thing to understand this procedure before you execute it:

create or replace procedure delete_cascade(
  p_table_name in user_tables.table_name%type) is
  l_pk user_constraints.constraint_name%type;
  select constraint_name into l_pk
  from user_constraints
  where Constraint_Type='P'
  and table_name=upper(p_table_name);
  for c in (
  select table_name
  from user_constraints
  where R_CONSTRAINT_NAME=l_pk) loop
  end loop;
  execute immediate 'delete from ' || upper(p_table_name);
exception when no_data_found then -- Tables without constraint
  execute immediate 'delete from ' || upper(p_table_name);;

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Displaying Spatial Data in SQL Developer

There are many ways to display spatial data, but when exploring a new data set in SQL Developer I think the built in Map View is practical. For this demo I used a list of nuclear power stations in the world, found via The Google Fusion Table can be exported to CSV format, and it includes the longitude and latitude which makes it easy to convert to SDO_GEOMETRY. After importing the file with SQL Developer into a table called NUCLEAR, I did this to add native Spatial data:

alter table nuclear add geom sdo_geometry;
update nuclear set geom=sdo_geometry(2001,

Since I want to try out a spatial operator, I need to add metadata for the column (or layer) and add a spatial index:

insert into user_sdo_geom_metadata(TABLE_NAME,COLUMN_NAME,diminfo,srid)
  values ('NUCLEAR','GEOM',
create index nuclear_si on nuclear(geom) indextype is mdsys.spatial_index
parameters ('layer_gtype=POINT');

The parameter is not necessary, but when you use this, Oracle can check that all new data has the same GTYPE and will speed up index creation. Not a big deal here, but useful to know for later.

With this in place I can search for active reactors within a distance of 1000km from my home:

select   name,country
  ,10, 'unit=km')) "Distance in km"
from nuclear
where sdo_within_distance(geom,
    ,'distance=1000 unit=km') = 'TRUE'
  and active_reactors>0
order by 3;

NAME COUNTRY Distance in km

A table looks nice, but it sure would be more informative on a map. I added the GEOM column to the query (and removed the others since I don't need them, and also the ORDER BY). The result is this:

Bring up the menu on the result set (right-click or similar on one of the rows), and select Invoke Map View on result set:

You get something like this:

That is not phenomenal. I had this idea that there should be a map in here. Well, a map with countries and their borders are spatial objects in themselves, and since I had downloaded the data files for the book Pro Oracle Spatial for Oracle Database 11g, I could just display the countries within the same distance:

select geom 
from spatial.world_countries
where sdo_within_distance(geom,
  ,'distance=1000 unit=km') = 'TRUE';

and repeat the procedure. I also made this simple query to get an SDO_GEOMETRY object for my own location:

select sdo_geometry(2001,8307,sdo_point_type(10.8000994,59.8301125,null),null,null) 
from dual;

After changing the order, titles, colors, and zoom, the result look like this:

Also note that I didn't make any comments about our neighbours ;-)

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Importing GPX files to Oracle database, part 2

The previous post showed how to import a file in GPX-format into a table that uses the XMLType. This post shows how to import the waypoints from the GPS logger into a table with the native SDO_GEOMETRY type.

First create  a table:

create table gps_log (
  log_time timestamp with time zone,
  waypoint sdo_geometry,
  src varchar2(20));

The datatype for log_time is chosen like shown because the type used in the XML-file (xsd:dateTime) maps to this, which makes importing the time data much easier. (Have a look at the previous post to see this mapping.)

Not strictly necessary at this point, but I want to add metadata about the spatial column (aka layer). This is done by doing an insert on a view that resides in the MDSYS-schema (with a public synonym added). Insert on the view works by instead-of triggers defined on the view, in case you wondered how this works:

insert into user_sdo_geom_metadata(TABLE_NAME,COLUMN_NAME,diminfo,srid)
  values ('GPS_LOG','WAYPOINT',

If you don't want to write this SQL yourself, you can use a nice feature in SQL Developer. Bring up the menu for the table in the Connections window, select Spatial and then Update Spatial Metadata...:

Then you can add the information in the pop-up window:

You can verify that this actually worked with:

select * 
from user_sdo_geom_metadata;

The app I was using used the position from the mobile network sometimes. I guess there was problem with the GPS reception at times. Anyway, the position reported from the mobile network does not include elevation, so I decided to leave it out. This has an implication when choosing the spatial reference ID; 8307 is commonly used for waypoints given by latitude and longitude (and without elevation), see this chapter for details. Another detail is the chosen tolerance; the app reported that the accuracy was around 4 meters from the GPS, usually worse from the mobile network, so I figured 3 meters is OK. (For geodetic coordinate systems the unit for tolerance is meter.)

Inserting the data into the table is pretty easy by adapting the SQL code at the end of previous post:

insert into gps_log(log_time,waypoint,src) 
  SELECT  EXTRACTVALUE(VALUE(t), 'trkpt/time'),
      sdo_point_type(EXTRACTVALUE(VALUE(t), 'trkpt/@lat'),
       EXTRACTVALUE(VALUE(t), 'trkpt/@lon'),null),
        'xmlns=""'))) t;

The following creates a spatial index on the WAYPOINT-column, but before you execute this, make sure the user has the privilege CREATE SEQUENCE in addition to CREATE TABLE:

create index gps_log_si
on gps_log(waypoint) indextype is mdsys.spatial_index

The statement above will return an error stack including ORA-29855 and ORA-13203 if metadata on the column is missing in USER_SDO_GEOM_METADATA. Probably it is a good habit to add it right after the creation of the table as shown previously. Note, if the statement failed, it may have created the index object (although not a useful one), and you may need to drop the index before you try again.