Oracle DBMS_SQL.OPEN_CURSOR is a function provided by Oracle’s DBMS_SQL package, which is a part of Oracle’s extensive suite of database tools. The DBMS_SQL package is specifically designed for dynamic SQL operations, allowing developers to construct and execute SQL statements dynamically at runtime rather than statically at compile time. This feature is particularly useful for applications that require flexibility in their database interactions, such as constructing queries based on user input or operating with database structures that may change over time.


The OPEN_CURSOR function is a critical component within the DBMS_SQL package. It is used to allocate a new cursor in the context of a session, which is essential for executing any dynamic SQL statement. A cursor, in the context of Oracle databases, is a pointer to the memory area where the query is executed and its result set is stored.


The basic syntax of the DBMS_SQL.OPEN_CURSOR function is straightforward:

cursor_variable := DBMS_SQL.OPEN_CURSOR;

Here, cursor_variable is a variable of the data type appropriate for storing a cursor ID, which is typically an integer. This variable is then used in subsequent DBMS_SQL package operations to parse, bind, execute, and fetch results from the dynamic SQL statement.


The usage of OPEN_CURSOR follows a typical sequence of operations for executing dynamic SQL:

Open Cursor: Allocate a new cursor for use with dynamic SQL operations.

cursor_variable := DBMS_SQL.OPEN_CURSOR;

Parse: Prepare a SQL statement for execution by associating it with the cursor.

DBMS_SQL.PARSE(cursor_variable, sql_statement, DBMS_SQL.NATIVE);

Bind: Optionally bind variables to placeholders in the SQL statement.

Execute: Run the SQL statement.


Fetch: Retrieve the results of the SQL statement, if it is a query that returns rows.

Close: Release the cursor when it is no longer needed to free up resources.


Benefits and Considerations

Using OPEN_CURSOR and the DBMS_SQL package allows for a high degree of flexibility in database operations, enabling developers to write more dynamic and adaptable applications. However, this approach requires careful management of resources, as each open cursor consumes memory and other database resources. It’s important to always close cursors with DBMS_SQL.CLOSE_CURSOR when they are no longer needed to avoid resource leaks that could impact database performance.

In summary, DBMS_SQL.OPEN_CURSOR is a powerful tool in Oracle’s dynamic SQL toolkit, providing the necessary functionality to execute SQL statements dynamically. Its proper use enables developers to build flexible and efficient database-driven applications.