Category Archives: General

SQL Macros – Some Less Obvious Facts (Part 2)

This second part of the “less obvious facts” series is about the COLUMNS pseudo-operator. It has been introduced in 18c as one of the variadic pseudo-operators, intended to operate with a variable number of operands. Unfortunately, no other pseudo-operators have been introduced since then, so that it is worth looking at what exactly the COLUMNS operator is, how to use it and how it can potentially be “misused”.

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How to get the final SQL after macro expansion

In my very first post about SQL macros, I mentioned that for table macros, there is a simple way to see the SQL statement after macro expansion using dbms_utility.expand_sql_text. However, for scalar SQL macros, there is no such straightforward method. We can activate a CBO trace (also known as event 10053) and find the final statement in the trace file. This approach works for both scalar and table SQL macros. In this post, we will explore how to do this, and we will use… a SQL macro for that! Well, at least we will give it a try…

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What does ChatGPT “think” about SQL Macros?

After some weeks of reading and hearing in almost every news report about generative AI and ChatGPT in particular, and how it will change a developer’s life or even make developers obsolete, I was really curious to check it out myself and ask some developer questions. Since I’ve posted quite lot about SQL macros in the past few years, I thought aksing about them could be a good start point. One more argument to start with the topic I’m pretending to know lot about, is to be able to easily distinguish the truth from AI hallucination.

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Comparing Rows using a SQL Macro

After the previous post about building an UNPIVOT query via SQL macro to output table rows like key-value pairs, I thought of another use case for the UNPIVOT operator, where developing a reusable SQL macro will make sense. From time to time you need to spot the difference between almost identical rows. You know they are different and you can easily check this using MINUS or GROUP BY, but if you want to know in what column(s) exactly the difference is, you need another approach.

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Not Every “Not Equals” is Equal

Yesterday I voted on the poll by @SQL Daily about using different forms for “not equals” conditions and that brought back bad (and funny) memories. Over 25 years I have always used “!=”. “Does it matter”, you might ask? Actually, it shouldn’t. But here is my story and the reason, why I was considering to change my habits and use “<>”.

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Using Subqueries and Views with PTF or SQL macros

In the last post about SQL macros in 19c I tried to use a subquery as an input for the function. And when I had some DATE calculations in a query, I got ORA-62558: Unsupported data types (DATE) The result looked somewhat confusing at first, but if you think about it, it is logical and maybe not a bug at all. You should just be very explicit while using subqueries and views(!) in this scenario. And because this behavior is not documented, it is worth sharing, I think.

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SQL macros in Oracle 19c

Now that I have created a patched Oracle database docker image with Release Update 19.8 ( to play with, I can finally start testing the backport of SQL macros! (UPDATE: As of now you can play with SQL macros on Autonomous Databases in Oracle Cloud (also free tier!) and on

SQL Macros have been introduced in Oracle 20c. As of now, Oracle 20c is only available as preview version in Oracle Cloud. That’s why I was quite excited when Connor McDonald pointed out on Twitter that they were backported to 19c. Let’s see if it works, and how.

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Dynamic Pivot with SQL Macros in Oracle 20c

More than a year ago I blogged about my view on using Polymorphic Table Function (PTF) for dynamic pivot in Oracle 18c. Actually I was not as optimistic. The solution had at least two significant problems:

  • the function will not see any changes on the underlying data until new hard parse of the query
  • operating on bigger data sets returns multiple result rows: one per 1024 rows (the size of the row sets in PTF), thus requiring some post processing

With Oracle 20c we now have SQL macros and I was curious, whether they can help here.

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Building Hash Keys using SQL Macros in Oracle 20c

In the next post about SQL macros in Oracle 20c we look at how they could be useful for building hash keys. If you are familiar with Data Warehousing and Data Vault modelling approach, you will probably know why it can be a good idea to build hash keys or hash diffs. Anyway, we will not discuss whether or not you should use them, but rather how you can do this in Oracle in a consistent and performant way.

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