mers who have been working with it for a long
time. I think one of the key challenges for all of
us is to find a way to cohere those individuals
into a community in which everybody’s exper-
tise can be shared and magnified. Too much
of the way that we tend to work in the tech-
nology world is that people look for gurus, and
basically ask for a “download.” I’m pleased to
do it, but many people out there know PL/SQL
as well as I do in certain areas and have a lot
more to offer in their real-world experience.
So, what I’m really focusing on these days,
primarily through the PL/SQL Challenge
Website, is to provide a way for people around
the world to not only learn from me, but for
me and everybody else to learn from them.
Oracle Magazine: You’ve said that your days
of traveling for work are limited. What’s the
latest on your PL/SQL roadwork plans?
Feuerstein: In 2010, I finally decided that I
had enough of living in airplanes, airports,
and hotels. I had been doing 100,000-plus
miles a year, and I was tired of being away
from home. I was interested in working on
building this global community, and the way
you build a global community is not neces-
sarily to try to meet everybody personally,
but to provide Websites where people can
get together and share and promote their
expertise. These days, in terms of traveling,
I prioritize key conferences—for example,
Oracle Open World and ODTUG Kscope.
Oracle Magazine: Do you have any sugges-
tions for aspiring and senior PL/SQL devel-
opers to help them manage their own
PL/SQL training and experience?
Feuerstein: I get a lot of questions from
developers about what they should be doing
with their careers. They’re trained in PL/SQL.
They’ve got pretty solid experience under their
belts, and they want to know what to do to
protect and enhance their careers. They also
want to know about the future of PL/SQL.
Ever since Oracle8i Database, when the Java
Virtual Machine was put into the database,
people have been asking, “Is PL/SQL going to
stick around? Is Oracle switching over to Java?
Is PL/SQL going to go away?”
PL/SQL is absolutely not going to go away.
It’s critical technology in so many parts of the
Oracle technology stack. And even if it weren’t,
there are literally millions of lines of PL/SQL
code out there that have been running in
“PL/SQL is absolutely not going to go away.
It’s critical technology in so many parts of
the Oracle technology stack.”
mission-critical applications for decades. So, I
think that everybody should be quite confident
that PL/SQL is not only going to stick around,
but it will be enhanced. The PL/SQL team is
still working hard at making it the best possible database programming language.
Having said that, I have heard from a
number of developers that they’re seeing
the opportunities for PL/SQL shrinking. That
makes some sense, because it’s not the only
language you can use to deploy Oracle applications. I think it’s really critical that anybody
who is a PL/SQL developer today also has a
working knowledge of Java—so that they can,
at a minimum, leverage Java technology from
within their PL/SQL programs.
It’s also important that PL/SQL developers
are familiar with XML, which will be a critical
mechanism for managing and transmitting
information between application architecture
elements. Also make sure you’re really strong
on the latest implementations of SQL and the
enhancements to SQL in Oracle Database, so
you’re not writing PL/SQL when you can do
the work in SQL instead.
Finally, if you’re into PL/SQL and you
want to keep it at the top of your technology stack, learn about Oracle Application
Express. It’s a classic “have your cake and
eat it, too” scenario: you get to leverage your
PL/SQL skills to build Websites! How cool
is that? Oracle Application Express is going
to play a bigger and bigger role in the Oracle
world in years to come. As more Oracle
Application Express–based applications
are deployed, I think we’ll actually see an
upsurge in PL/SQL popularity.
Oracle Magazine: What are the key features
that developers should know about PL/SQL?
Feuerstein: One critical datatype of
PL/SQL that you’ve got to be really sharp on
is collections—PL/SQL’s version of arrays.
They form the foundation for critical perfor-mance-related features of PL/SQL, including
FORALL and BULK COLLEC T.
In addition, every PL/SQL developer
needs to be aware of the Function Result
Cache feature in Oracle Database 11 g. This
is a really nice feature that involves putting
one keyword into your existing functions,
result_cache, and potentially speeding up
the performance of data retrievals from
the database by a significant margin, with
minimal impact to your code.
LIS TEN to the podcast
VISIT Steven Feuerstein’s recommended
Websites to learn more about PL/SQL