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PL/SQL Backtraces for Debugging

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PL/SQL Backtraces for Debugging

· Java Zone
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For many PL/SQL developers, this might be common sense, but for one of our customers, this was an unknown PL/SQL feature: Backtraces.

When your application raises an error somewhere deep down in the call stack, you don’t get immediate information about the exact source of the error. For large PL/SQL applications, this can be a pain. One workaround is to keep track of statement numbers that were last executed before any error occurred:

DECLARE
  v_statement_no := 0;
BEGIN
  v_statement_no := 1;
  SELECT ...
 
  v_statement_no := 2;
  INSERT ...
 
  v_statement_no := 3;
  ...
EXCEPTION
  WHEN OTHERS THEN
    -- Log error message somewhere
    logger.error(module, v_statement_no, sqlerrm);
END;

The above looks an awful lot like println-debugging, a thing that isn’t really known to Java developers ;-)

But println-debugging isn’t necessary in PL/SQL either. Use the DBMS_UTILITY.FORMAT_ERROR_BACKTRACE function, instead! An example:

DECLARE
  PROCEDURE p4 IS BEGIN
    raise_application_error(-20000, 'Some Error');
  END p4;
  PROCEDURE p3 IS BEGIN
    p4;
  END p3;
  PROCEDURE p2 IS BEGIN
    p3;
  END p2;
  PROCEDURE p1 IS BEGIN
    p2;
  END p1;
 
BEGIN
  p1;
EXCEPTION
  WHEN OTHERS THEN
    dbms_output.put_line(sqlerrm);
    dbms_output.put_line(
      dbms_utility.format_error_backtrace
    );
END;
/

The above PL/SQL block generates the following output:

You can see exactly what line number generated the error. If you’re not using local procedures in anonymous blocks (which you quite likely aren’t), this gets even more useful:

CREATE PROCEDURE p4 IS BEGIN
  raise_application_error(-20000, 'Some Error');
END p4;
/
CREATE PROCEDURE p3 IS BEGIN
  p4;
END p3;
/
CREATE PROCEDURE p2 IS BEGIN
  p3;
END p2;
/
CREATE PROCEDURE p1 IS BEGIN
  p2;
END p1;
/
 
BEGIN
  p1;
EXCEPTION
  WHEN OTHERS THEN
    dbms_output.put_line(sqlerrm);
    dbms_output.put_line(
      dbms_utility.format_error_backtrace
    );
END;
/

The above now outputs:

To learn more about the DBMS_UTILITY package, please consider the manual. True to the nature of all things called “UTILITY”, it really contains pretty much random things that you wouldn’t expect there


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Published at DZone with permission of Lukas Eder, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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