Oracle’s DBMS_SQL.PARSE procedure is a crucial part of the DBMS_SQL package, which provides an interface to use dynamic SQL in PL/SQL applications. Dynamic SQL allows you to construct SQL statements dynamically at runtime, rather than having them fully written and fixed at compile time. This capability is extremely useful for writing flexible code that can adapt to different needs, such as building complex queries based on user input or operating on different objects without hardcoding their names.


The basic syntax of the DBMS_SQL.PARSE procedure is as follows:

   c        IN OUT NOCOPY CLOB,
   statement IN VARCHAR2,
   language_flag IN BINARY_INTEGER);

c: A cursor ID, which is obtained from a prior call to DBMS_SQL.OPEN_CURSOR. This parameter is used to identify the specific cursor in subsequent operations like binding, executing, and fetching.
statement: The SQL statement or PL/SQL block to be parsed. This is the dynamic SQL statement you want to execute.
language_flag: Specifies the type of statement being parsed. Common values include DBMS_SQL.NATIVE (default, for native dynamic SQL) and DBMS_SQL.V7 (for backward compatibility with Oracle7). This flag determines how the statement should be parsed.

How It Works

Open a Cursor: Before you can parse a statement, you must open a cursor using DBMS_SQL.OPEN_CURSOR. This function returns a cursor number that is used to refer to the cursor in subsequent operations.

Parse the Statement: Next, you use DBMS_SQL.PARSE to prepare the SQL statement or PL/SQL block for execution. During this step, Oracle checks the syntax of the statement and prepares it for execution. However, it does not actually execute the statement.

Bind Variables: If your SQL statement contains bind variables, you can use DBMS_SQL.BIND_VARIABLE to bind values to these variables. This step is optional and depends on whether your SQL statement includes bind variables.

Execute: After parsing and binding any variables, you execute the statement using DBMS_SQL.EXECUTE.

Fetch Results: For queries that return result sets, you use DBMS_SQL.FETCH_ROWS to fetch the results. This step is followed by retrieving the values of each column in the result set.

Use Cases

DBMS_SQL.PARSE is particularly useful in scenarios where:

The exact structure of the SQL statement is not known until runtime.
The application needs to execute SQL statements or PL/SQL blocks that vary significantly.
There is a need to execute dynamically generated DDL statements.


Here’s a simple example to demonstrate the use of DBMS_SQL.PARSE:

  cursor_id INTEGER;
  rows_processed INTEGER;
  cursor_id := DBMS_SQL.OPEN_CURSOR;
  DBMS_SQL.PARSE(cursor_id, 'SELECT * FROM employees WHERE department_id = :dept_id', DBMS_SQL.NATIVE);
  DBMS_SQL.BIND_VARIABLE(cursor_id, ':dept_id', 10);
  rows_processed := DBMS_SQL.EXECUTE(cursor_id);
  -- Further fetch and process operations go here

This example demonstrates opening a cursor, parsing a SELECT statement with a bind variable for the department ID, binding a value to the bind variable, executing the statement, and then closing the cursor. It omits the fetch and process steps for brevity.

DBMS_SQL.PARSE and the DBMS_SQL package offer powerful capabilities for dynamic SQL execution in Oracle, enabling developers to write flexible and adaptable PL/SQL code.