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Don Burleson Blog 







Ignoring Oracle ORA Errors in PL/SQL

Expert Oracle Database Tips by Donald BurlesonMarch 21, 2015


Oracle PL/SQL provides an exception clause to allow you to stop execution of your program whenever Oracle returns a specific ORA-xxxx error. 

Oracle provides the generic when others clause for trapping all non-zero error codes. 

However, there are cases when you expect an Oracle error to be thrown, such as a PL/SQL code that creates a table, and ignores the error if the table already exists. (The ORA-00955 error below).

Remember, PL/SQL is separate from the Oracle database, and whenever you call Oracle, you want to check the return code to ensure that Oracle has done what you wanted.  See these important notes on PL/SQL error handling.  Also note that you can handle PL/SQL exceptions when using bulk operators (forall and bulk collect)

It's easy to use the built-in values with the PL/SQL exceptions clause, but this list does not cover all 1,000+ possible Oracle errors. 

Let's look at how to define a custom exception for an Oracle ORA- error code.

 Defining a custom Oracle error exception in PL/SQL

Oracle has over 1,000 distinct error codes, and this is how to translate an ORA-0nnn to a SQLCODE.

For example, let's assume that we want to ignore the ORA-00955 error, where a table already exists.  The SQLCODE is the same as the Oracle error code with the leading ORA-000's stripped off:

Oracle error         SQLCODE
ORA-01555            -1555
ORA-00600            -600
ORA-03113            -3113
ORA-12560            -12560
ORA-03113            -3113
etc . . .

Below we trap an ORA-00955 error which translates into a -955 SQLCODE.  We define a custom pragma exception TableExists) and then check this Boolean in the EXCEPTION clause:

   TableExists EXCEPTION;
   pragma exception_init(TableExists,-955);
   sql_stmt varchar2(50) := 'create table temp (col1 number)';
   execute immediate sql_stmt;
/*+ Ignore ORA-955 errors when the table already exists) */
EXCEPTION when TableExists then NULL;

Here is another method for ignoring an expected non-zero return code from Oracle, using the important when others clause to abort the PL/SQL if an unexpected error comes from Oracle:

if (sqlcode=-955) then NULL
end if;

Using these simple techniques we can trap dozens of expected errors in our PL/SQL program while still stopping the program when we hit an unexpected non-zero return code from Oracle.

 For working examples of the exceptions clause see the download from the book Easy PL/SQL Programming and the code depot in the great book PL/SQL Tuning Secrets by Dr. Timothy Hall.

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Note: This Oracle documentation was created as a support and Oracle training reference for use by our DBA performance tuning consulting professionals.  Feel free to ask questions on our Oracle forum.

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