Oracle PL/SQL’s DBMS_XMLQUERY.SETSQLQUERY function is part of the DBMS_XMLQUERY package, which is used to generate XML documents from SQL queries. This function allows you to set or modify the SQL query used by an existing DBMS_XMLQUERY context. The XML document generated can be used for various purposes, such as data interchange, web services, or to feed data into other applications that understand XML.


The basic syntax of the DBMS_XMLQUERY.SETSQLQUERY function is:

ctx IN OUT NOCOPY CtxHandle, sqlQuery IN VARCHAR2,
 reset_context_attributes IN BOOLEAN DEFAULT TRUE

ctx: This is the context handle for the XML query, which is obtained when you initialize the XML query using DBMS_XMLQUERY.NEWCONTEXT. It’s a reference to the current state and settings of your XML generation process.

sqlQuery: A string that represents the SQL query you want to execute and generate XML output from. This query can select data from one or more tables or views.

reset_context_attributes: An optional boolean parameter that, when set to TRUE (the default), resets all context attributes to their default values. If set to FALSE, the current context settings, such as rowset tag names or XSLT transformations, are retained.


To use DBMS_XMLQUERY.SETSQLQUERY, you first need to create a context with DBMS_XMLQUERY.NEWCONTEXT, set your SQL query with DBMS_XMLQUERY.SETSQLQUERY, and then use other DBMS_XMLQUERY functions to customize the XML output (if necessary) before finally generating the XML document with DBMS_XMLQUERY.GETXML.


Here’s a simple example of how to use DBMS_XMLQUERY.SETSQLQUERY:

  ctx dbms_xmlquery.ctxHandle;
  xml_output CLOB;
  ctx := dbms_xmlquery.newContext('SELECT * FROM employees'); -- Create a new context with an SQL query
  dbms_xmlquery.setSQLQuery(ctx, 'SELECT employee_id, first_name FROM employees WHERE department_id = 10'); -- Modify the SQL query
  xml_output := dbms_xmlquery.getXML(ctx); -- Generate the XML document
  dbms_xmlquery.closeContext(ctx); -- Always close the context when done
  -- Output or use the xml_output as needed

In this example, we first create a new XML query context with a default SQL query, then immediately replace that query with a new one that selects only the employee_id and first_name columns from the employees table where department_id is 10. Finally, we generate the XML output and close the context.


The SQL query set with DBMS_XMLQUERY.SETSQLQUERY can be any valid SQL query, but keep in mind the structure of the resulting XML document will directly correspond to the selected columns and rows.

Be cautious with large datasets, as generating XML documents from them can be memory-intensive and may affect performance.
Always ensure to close the XML query context using DBMS_XMLQUERY.CLOSECONTEXT to release system resources.
Using DBMS_XMLQUERY.SETSQLQUERY provides a powerful way to dynamically generate XML documents from Oracle databases, offering flexibility in how data is retrieved and formatted for various applications.