Oracle’s DBMS_SQL.EXECUTE function is a part of Oracle’s DBMS_SQL package, which is a dynamic SQL interface that allows you to dynamically construct and execute SQL statements and PL/SQL blocks. Unlike static SQL, where the full SQL statement is known and fixed at compile time, dynamic SQL enables you to assemble SQL commands dynamically at runtime. This feature is particularly useful for writing flexible and adaptable database applications.


The basic syntax for the DBMS_SQL.EXECUTE function is:


c: This parameter is an integer cursor ID that is obtained from a prior call to DBMS_SQL.OPEN_CURSOR. It identifies the cursor associated with the SQL statement you intend to execute.
The function returns an integer that often represents the number of rows processed by the SQL statement. The exact return value can depend on the type of SQL statement executed.

How It Works

Open a Cursor: Before you can execute a SQL statement using DBMS_SQL.EXECUTE, you first need to open a cursor using DBMS_SQL.OPEN_CURSOR. This cursor acts as a pointer to the SQL statement you want to execute.

Parse the SQL Statement: After obtaining a cursor, you use DBMS_SQL.PARSE to prepare the SQL statement for execution. This step involves specifying the SQL statement (which can be a SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE, or PL/SQL block), the cursor to use, and other details such as the language flag and the parse mode.

Bind Variables (Optional): If your SQL statement includes bind variables, you use DBMS_SQL.BIND_VARIABLE to associate each bind variable in the SQL statement with a corresponding PL/SQL variable or value.

Execute the Statement: Once the SQL statement is parsed and any bind variables are bound, you use DBMS_SQL.EXECUTE to execute the statement. The cursor ID is passed as an argument to DBMS_SQL.EXECUTE.

Fetch Rows (For SELECT Statements): If the executed statement is a SELECT query, you’ll need to fetch the result set rows using DBMS_SQL.FETCH_ROWS. Other types of statements do not produce a result set, so fetching is not required.

Close the Cursor: After execution and optional fetching are complete, you should close the cursor using DBMS_SQL.CLOSE_CURSOR to release the allocated resources.


Here’s a simplified example of using DBMS_SQL.EXECUTE:

  cursor_id INTEGER;
  rows_processed INTEGER;
  cursor_id := DBMS_SQL.OPEN_CURSOR;
  DBMS_SQL.PARSE(cursor_id, 'INSERT INTO employees (name) VALUES (:1)', DBMS_SQL.NATIVE);
  DBMS_SQL.BIND_VARIABLE(cursor_id, ':1', 'John Doe');
  rows_processed := DBMS_SQL.EXECUTE(cursor_id);
  DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE('Rows processed: ' || TO_CHAR(rows_processed));

In this example, a cursor is opened, an INSERT statement is parsed and bound with a value for the :1 placeholder, executed, and finally, the cursor is closed. The number of rows processed (in this case, inserted) is outputted.

DBMS_SQL.EXECUTE is a powerful tool in Oracle’s database programming environment, providing the flexibility to execute dynamically constructed SQL statements and PL/SQL blocks. This capability is essential for developing applications that require dynamic SQL execution based on user input, application logic, or other runtime conditions.