Tim Hall

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Oracle related rants (and lots of off-topic stuff)...
Updated: 13 hours 14 min ago

Does anyone care about enterprise application servers anymore?

Mon, 2021-06-14 02:29

A few years ago it seemed like everywhere you turned there was a vendor extolling the virtues of their enterprise application server. The message was very much “big is beautiful”. The more complicated the better. The more features the better. Fast forward to present time and is that message still the same?

In a recent conversation I was asked about my thoughts on this and my response was I don’t think these “do it all” application servers matter anymore. This post outlines my feelings on the matter.

Full disclosure

Because of my job I was forced to learn WebLogic, and I’ve always disliked it. I think it’s over-complicated, a pig to manage, and every quarter the list of vulnerabilities look like a horror show. Keep this in mind when reading the rest of this post. Basically, I’m saying this is my biased opinion and you don’t have to agree with me. I’m not throwing shade at any particular company. In my opinion, the mindset at the time was different to now, which resulted in similar products from multiple companies.

Also, it’s worth saying I’m not an application server guru, so that probably affects my views on the subject.

Third-party application vendors

The company I work for at the moment uses a lot of third party apps. From what I can see, the 3rd party application vendors that were previously looking to offer solutions on products like Websphere and WebLogic are quite happily getting rid of them in favour of more streamlined solutions. They are quite happy to forgo the additional features, or implement them with additional libraries in their code.

Maybe that’s just the application vendors I come into contact with. Maybe your experience is different. I would be interested to know, in case I’m totally off the mark here.

Containers

With the rise of containers we’ve become accustomed to small and lightweight pieces of infrastructure that focus on doing one thing well, rather than trying to be all things to all people.

I know you can run these enterprise application servers in containers and on Kubernetes, but it just feels like trying to force monoliths into containers. That’s not my idea of progress.

When I talk about lightweight, I’m not just thinking about the size of the footprint, but the complexity of it also.

Administration

The administration of the monoliths is too complicated. Given the choice of training up a new person on WebLogic or Tomcat, I know which I would pick.

Even after all these years, when we get an issue on a WebLogic server a piece of me dies because I know I’ll be rooting around for ages to get the answers. In comparison, Tomcat is so much simpler.

We go back to my definition of the size of the footprint again. The complexity of some of these products comes at a cost.

But what about product X?

I realise that some products still need these enterprise application servers. If you use a product that needs them, that’s fine. Continue doing so. I just wouldn’t be looking to buy new products that require that much investment in time and money. It’s just my opinion though.

Moving to the cloud

One of the things I’ve mentioned several times is the move to the cloud changes things significantly. To a certain extent, I don’t care about the underlying technology used by a cloud service. I just care that it meets my requirements. Does it perform well enough? Does it have the required availability? Does it come at a reasonable price? Is it really easy to administer, or preferably need no real administration? Does it support the programming language/framework I care about? At no point am I really thinking about the underlying tech.

If a cloud provider builds out there service using an enterprise application server, that’s fine. I just don’t want to pay those licensing fees, and I don’t want to see any of the management. I want the most streamlined experience I can get.

What do you think?

I’m really interested to know what you think. I come to this conversation with a lot of bias, so I understand if a lot of people don’t agree with me. Are you looking to simplify this layer of your infrastructure, or do you still lean on the side of “big is beautiful”?

Cheers

Tim…

The post Does anyone care about enterprise application servers anymore? first appeared on The ORACLE-BASE Blog.Does anyone care about enterprise application servers anymore? was first posted on June 14, 2021 at 8:29 am.
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Video : APEX_MAIL : Send Emails from PL/SQL

Mon, 2021-06-07 02:12

In today’s video we’ll demonstrate how to use the APEX_MAIL package to send emails from PL/SQL.

The video is based on this article.

You may also want to check out these articles.

The star of today’s video is Paul Vallee, who knocked it out of the park with his recent post on hybrid working.

Cheers

Tim…

The post Video : APEX_MAIL : Send Emails from PL/SQL first appeared on The ORACLE-BASE Blog.Video : APEX_MAIL : Send Emails from PL/SQL was first posted on June 7, 2021 at 8:12 am.
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Video : APEX_ZIP : Manage Zip Files From PL/SQL

Mon, 2021-05-24 00:17

In today’s video we demonstrate the APEX_ZIP package, which allows us to manage zip files from PL/SQL.

The video is based on this article.

I must admit I hadn’t even noticed this package until Morten Braten mentioned it on Twitter.

The star of today’s video is Patrick Jolliffe, who is now a resident of Portugal.

Cheers

Tim…

The post Video : APEX_ZIP : Manage Zip Files From PL/SQL first appeared on The ORACLE-BASE Blog.Video : APEX_ZIP : Manage Zip Files From PL/SQL was first posted on May 24, 2021 at 6:17 am.
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What are you actually comparing? (an extended Twitter rant)

Tue, 2021-05-11 03:26

I had a bit of a rant on a Twitter thread yesterday about this post.

The Transition to Trunk-Based Development

I’m going to repeat that rant here, then expand on it below.

The Rant

This kind-of gets on my tits.

It reads like, “we were doing everything badly and blamed it on GitFlow. Then we switched to trunk-based development and started to do everything properly. Trunk-based dev rules.”

You went from:

  • No automation to automated delivery.
  • Manual testing to automated testing.
  • Huge, long-lived feature branches to deploying smaller units of work.

None of this is about GitFlow vs trunk-based. It’s all about doing modern development properly.

This is such a lazy argument. I would be interested to see you fix all that stuff in GitFlow, then move to trunk-based and see what the difference/improvement was. That is a better comparison.

Now I realise sometimes you have to have a big step-change project to get people to do something different, and maybe trunk-based development was that trigger for your company, and if so, that’s good for you, but as I said, this is not GitFlow vs. trunk-based.

So once again. I’m not saying one method is better than the other. I’m just saying be honest about the major factors that contributed to your increased velocity.

None of the factors listed were specific to these styles of development. They are basic Agile and DevOps things.

Expanding

I see this sort of thing all the time.

I remember being in a session about Exadata when it was first released, and being told about 1000x performance when one project was moved from old conventional kit to Exadata. Someone much brighter than me asked the question about what code changes were implemented as part of the migration. It turned out a bunch of row-by-row (slow-by-slow) procedural data loads were ripped out and replaced by parallel DML operations using external tables. So as well as moving from old crappy kit to Exadata, they switched from crappy procedural code to set-based data loads. Relatively speaking, relational databases tend to be pretty crap at procedural work, and amazing at set-based processing. There was of course no comparison of how well the new data load approach worked on the old kit, so who knows where the biggest performance gains were made?

This isn’t about me slagging off trunk-based development, or Exadata. It’s about people making flawed comparisons. Imagine what you would say if I said advanced driving courses are amazing and here’s the proof. I did a lap of the track in a Ford Fiesta and it took 5 minutes. I then did an advanced driving course and was able to improve my time to 3 minutes in a Ferrari. I credit the advanced driving course for all the performance improvements! It’s clearly a terrible comparison and a misleading conclusion.

Wrapping It Up

Going back to the post that initiated this rant, I don’t think they were purposely trying to be misleading. Please don’t send any hate, but I feel like the real conclusion was not about GitFlow verses trunk-based development. It was about two things.

  • Manual process verses automation.
  • A cultural shift to encourage large, long-lived enhancements to be broken down into smaller user stories and story points, and being willing to ship small sprints of work to production, rather than waiting for the entire enhancement to be complete before deploying.

The first point is very much what “The Principle of Flow” in Devops focusses on. The second point is common to discussions about DevOps and Agile in general. This is what resulted in the increased velocity IMHO.

So when you are reading stuff, try to engage your brain and read between the lines.

Cheers

Tim…

The post What are you actually comparing? (an extended Twitter rant) first appeared on The ORACLE-BASE Blog.What are you actually comparing? (an extended Twitter rant) was first posted on May 11, 2021 at 9:26 am.
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Video : Immutable Tables in Oracle Database 19c and 21c

Mon, 2021-05-10 02:06

In today’s video we demonstrate immutable tables, introduced in the April quarterly patches for Oracle database 19c and 21c

The video is based on this article.

You’ll notice a striking resemblance to the syntax of blockchain tables, because they are essentially blockchain tables without the rows chained using cryptographic hashes. You can check out blockchain tables here.

The star of today’s video is Connor McDonald of AskTom and 90-slides-per-minute fame. You can check out Connor’s YouTube channel here.

Cheers

Tim…

The post Video : Immutable Tables in Oracle Database 19c and 21c first appeared on The ORACLE-BASE Blog.Video : Immutable Tables in Oracle Database 19c and 21c was first posted on May 10, 2021 at 8:06 am.
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How will my content change?

Tue, 2021-05-04 02:10

I was on a call a few weeks ago and the subject of technical content came up. As someone who produces a certain type of content, I had some thoughts related to cloud services. Specifically how cloud services make my style of content less meaningful these days.

A large part of my content could be described as “traditional” DBA content. As we move more systems to the cloud, and start to use increasingly automated database services, the “traditional” DBA is becoming less relevant, and therefore a certain proportion of my content is becoming less relevant with it. We are due to get an on-prem release of Oracle database 21c soon, and I’ll certainly be doing some installation articles for that, but how many more releases after that will need installation articles? How many more releases will require traditional DBA content? At some point we’ll be using cloud-based data services, so people like me won’t be installing or patching stuff anymore. What does that mean for my content?

Of course, if I’m still working I will still be producing content. As followers of the blog know, writing stuff is part of my learning process, so every time I’m learning something new, you are likely to see some articles appear on that subject. The issue is, if the traditional DBA content stops being necessary, or I’m just not doing DBA work anymore, what sort of content will I be producing?

The short answer is I don’t really know. I don’t think any DBA knows what they will be doing in five years. I suspect I will be some form of developer, but I don’t really know what type of developer. I would imagine it would be data-related, but who knows…

If this post raises any questions in your mind, I’m afraid I’m not the person to answer them. It’s just a really odd time…

Cheers

Tim…

The post How will my content change? first appeared on The ORACLE-BASE Blog.How will my content change? was first posted on May 4, 2021 at 8:10 am.
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Video : UTL_COMPRESS : Compress and Uncompress Data from PL/SQL

Mon, 2021-04-26 01:42

In today’s video we’ll demonstrate how to compress and uncompress data from PL/SQL.

The video is based on this article.

The star of today’s video is Chris Saxon of AskTom fame. You can check out his YouTube channel here.

Cheers

Tim…

The post Video : UTL_COMPRESS : Compress and Uncompress Data from PL/SQL first appeared on The ORACLE-BASE Blog.Video : UTL_COMPRESS : Compress and Uncompress Data from PL/SQL was first posted on April 26, 2021 at 7:42 am.
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JSON Database and APEX Application Development on Oracle Cloud Free Tier

Thu, 2021-04-22 02:32

If you follow my Sister-in-law Maria Colgan on Twitter, you will already know the JSON Database and APEX Application Development are now available on the Oracle Cloud Free Tier. For a full list of things on the free tier, see here.

I was on a call with Oracle prior to the release of the APEX Application Development Service, and one of the points I made was it should be available on the free tier, but unfortunately that’s not what happened with the initial release. I’m glad to see that situation has been rectified pretty quickly.

When you are trying to win hearts and minds I think it’s really important to reduce the barriers to entry. These services were available on the free trial, time and credit permitting, but I don’t think the free trials last long enough for people to get a real feel for a service. Adding these to the free tier will result in a number of things.

  • More people will be able to try them and decide if these are the correct services for them.
  • People will be able to live with these services for an extended period of time, and get a true feel for them. Unless you are really well prepared, you can easily do very little with a free trial. The free tier allows you to take your time and make sure you are making the correct move.
  • The more people using the services, the more feedback Oracle will get, which will ultimately make the services better.

I’m really glad this decision has been made!

If you are new to Oracle Cloud, I have some resources that should help you get going. Sign up for the free tier.

Oracle Cloud : Free Tier Account Sign-Up

The bottom of that article has links to lots of other Oracle Cloud posts, including these links.

I’ve also got some Terraform articles, so you can learn to automate the deployment of services on Oracle Cloud, including the JSON Database and APEX Application Development services.

Have fun!

Cheers

Tim…

PS. If you’re not following Maria on Twitter, what’s wrong with you?

The post JSON Database and APEX Application Development on Oracle Cloud Free Tier first appeared on The ORACLE-BASE Blog.JSON Database and APEX Application Development on Oracle Cloud Free Tier was first posted on April 22, 2021 at 8:32 am.
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VirtualBox 6.1.20 & Vagrant 2.2.15

Wed, 2021-04-21 13:28

VirtualBox 6.1.20 has been released.

The downloads and changelog are in the usual locations.

While I was playing around with VirtualBox I noticed Vagrant 2.2.15 has been released. You can download it here.

I’ve installed both of those on Windows 10, macOS Big Sur and Oracle Linux 7 hosts. So far so good.

With the release of the Oracle patches I’ll be doing a lot of Vagrant and Docker builds in the coming days, so I should get to exercise this pretty well.

I’ll also do the Packer builds of my Vagrant boxes with the new versions of the guest additions. They take a while to upload, so they should appear on Vagrant Cloud in the next couple of days.

Happy upgrading!

Cheers

Tim…

The post VirtualBox 6.1.20 & Vagrant 2.2.15 first appeared on The ORACLE-BASE Blog.VirtualBox 6.1.20 & Vagrant 2.2.15 was first posted on April 21, 2021 at 7:28 pm.
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The Oracle ACE Program : My 15 Year Anniversary

Thu, 2021-04-01 03:01

Just noticed it’s April 1st, which means it’s my 15th year anniversary of being an Oracle ACE.

As usual I’ll mention some of the other anniversaries that will happen throughout this year.

  • 26 years working with Oracle technology in August. (August 1995)
  • 21 years doing my website in July. (Original name: 03 July 2000 or current name: 31 August 2001)
  • 16 years blogging in June. (15 June 2005)
  • 15 years on the Oracle ACE Program. (01 April 2006)
  • A combined 4 years as an Oracle Developer Champion, now renamed to Oracle Groundbreaker Ambassador. (21 June 2017)

Keep safe. Have a good one!

Cheers

Tim…

The post The Oracle ACE Program : My 15 Year Anniversary first appeared on The ORACLE-BASE Blog.The Oracle ACE Program : My 15 Year Anniversary was first posted on April 1, 2021 at 9:01 am.
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Learning new stuff is good, even if you don’t use it…

Thu, 2021-04-01 02:46

I mentioned on Twitter, I was on a training course last week for a non-Oracle cloud-based database engine.

I went into the week feeling quite nervous about things, because I like to learn things at my own pace. Having to work at the same pace as others doesn’t work well for me. I’m quick at some things, and slow at others. That said, it was a really fun week. It flew by, which is always a good sign.

The main point of this post is not about the product or the course itself. It’s a more general point. I think it’s important to expose yourself to new bits of tech all the time. I have no idea how involved I will be in the project using this product, but it’s still good to learn more about it. When you learn something new it makes you question how you approach your existing role, and how you use your existing tech.

Of course, the Oracle database is what I’ve invested most of my time into, and it’s the thing I know the most about, but it’s far from the only thing I do on a day to day basis. I often say people should try the latest version of the Oracle database, because it might make them alter their approach to the older versions. This is true of different technology stacks too. Over the last few years I’ve spent a lot of time using and writing about things that are not core Oracle database tech, but that has had a positive influence on my approach to the database.

So going back to the title of the post, it’s important you learn new things, even if you don’t use them often, as they will change you and give you a broader understanding of your goal.

Cheers

Tim…

PS. How you approach learning new stuff depends on you. I wrote a series of posts about Learning New Things.

PPS. It’s not all about tech. You should also expose yourself to different elements of projects, so you better understand where other people are coming from.

The post Learning new stuff is good, even if you don’t use it… first appeared on The ORACLE-BASE Blog.Learning new stuff is good, even if you don’t use it… was first posted on April 1, 2021 at 8:46 am.
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Video : Qualified Expressions Enhancements in Oracle Database 21c (part 2)

Mon, 2021-03-08 02:17

In today’s video we demonstrate some more of the enhancements to qualified expressions in Oracle database 21c.

You can see the first part here. This is the second video based on this article.

If you are new to qualified expressions, and don’t already know about the FOR LOOP enhancements in 21c, these may be helpful.

The star of today’s video is Kim Berg Hansen, who is an Oracle ACE Director and long time SQL and PL/SQL developer and advocate.

Cheers

Tim…

The post Video : Qualified Expressions Enhancements in Oracle Database 21c (part 2) first appeared on The ORACLE-BASE Blog.Video : Qualified Expressions Enhancements in Oracle Database 21c (part 2) was first posted on March 8, 2021 at 9:17 am.
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Video : Qualified Expressions Enhancements in Oracle Database 21c (part 1)

Mon, 2021-03-01 02:13

In today’s video we demonstrate some of the enhancements to qualified expressions in Oracle database 21c.

The video is based on this article.

If you are new to qualified expressions, and don’t already know about the FOR LOOP enhancements in 21c, these may be helpful.

The star of today’s video is Mike Hichwa. Everything you know and love about APEX started with this guy!

Cheers

Tim…

The post Video : Qualified Expressions Enhancements in Oracle Database 21c (part 1) first appeared on The ORACLE-BASE Blog.Video : Qualified Expressions Enhancements in Oracle Database 21c (part 1) was first posted on March 1, 2021 at 9:13 am.
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Video : FOR LOOP Iteration Enhancements in Oracle Database 21c

Mon, 2021-02-22 02:30

In today’s video we demonstrate the FOR LOOP iteration control enhancements in Oracle database 21c.

The video is based on this article.

If you’re not already got up to speed with qualified expressions in 18c, you might want to check this out also.

The star of today’s video is Alex Nuijten, of PL/SQL and in recent years APEX fame.

Cheers

Tim…

The post Video : FOR LOOP Iteration Enhancements in Oracle Database 21c first appeared on The ORACLE-BASE Blog.Video : FOR LOOP Iteration Enhancements in Oracle Database 21c was first posted on February 22, 2021 at 9:30 am.
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Video : Using Expressions in Initialization Parameters in Oracle Database 21c

Mon, 2021-02-15 02:18

In today’s video we demonstrate using expressions in initialization parameters, introduced in Oracle database 21c.

The video is based on this article.

The star of today’s video is Deiby Gómez, who is a fellow Oracle ACE Director, and was kind enough to take me sightseeing when I visited Guatemala for a conference.

Cheers

Tim…

The post Video : Using Expressions in Initialization Parameters in Oracle Database 21c first appeared on The ORACLE-BASE Blog.Video : Using Expressions in Initialization Parameters in Oracle Database 21c was first posted on February 15, 2021 at 9:18 am.
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You don’t need to be an expert to be useful!

Thu, 2021-02-11 03:04

I come from a time when you could be an expert at one thing and be really useful to a company, but I think that time is long gone. If you only have one skill, no matter how good you are at it, you probably can’t achieve anything in tech without waiting weeks to get people to help you with all the stuff you don’t understand. In recent years, being a tech allrounder seems to be much more useful than being an expert. Maybe it always was.

Of course, this poses its own set of problems. How do you learn all this stuff? That’s the hard part and there aren’t any short cuts. There isn’t a “full stack developer course” that will teach you. You’ve just got to work on your Google-Fu and start getting your hands dirty. On the positive side, there is a lot of good information out there to get you started. Blog posts and videos that will get you from zero to adequate in a short amount of time if you put in the effort.

Over the last few years I’ve played with a lot of different technology, and I still find new stuff interesting, but it’s taken me a long time to deal with the fact I’m crap at most of it. Good enough to get the job done and fool people into thinking I know what I’m doing, but ultimately only one weekend of playing with the tech and a couple of Google searches ahead of some other people.

So my advice to people in tech is:

  • Try and get involved in as many aspects of tech as possible.
  • Forget trying to be an expert in any of them. Just try to get good enough to be useful.
  • Be humble enough to realise that what you say and do today may change tomorrow when you’ve Googled a bit more.
  • Try to understand the big picture. How things fit together and how processes work. Programming languages and services change all the time, but understanding the goal and the processes to get there don’t change as much as you might think.

Remember, it’s just my opinion!

Cheers

Tim…

The post You don’t need to be an expert to be useful! first appeared on The ORACLE-BASE Blog.You don’t need to be an expert to be useful! was first posted on February 11, 2021 at 10:04 am.
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Video : Partial Indexes for Partitioned Tables

Mon, 2021-02-08 02:02

In today’s video we demonstrate partial indexes for partitioned tables, introduced in Oracle database 12.1.

The video is based on this article.

The star of today’s video is Carry Millsap, who is being lead astray by a very naughty James Morle.

Cheers

Tim…

The post Video : Partial Indexes for Partitioned Tables first appeared on The ORACLE-BASE Blog.Video : Partial Indexes for Partitioned Tables was first posted on February 8, 2021 at 9:02 am.
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Video : JSON_TRANSFORM in Oracle Database 21c

Mon, 2021-02-01 03:54

In today’s video we demonstrate the JSON_TRANSFORM function, introduced in Oracle database 21c.

This video is based on the following article, which has a lot more information and examples than the video does.

I’ve written a bunch of stuff on JSON and ORDS, and there’s a YouTube playlist.

The star of today’s video is Tom Kyte. Here are two funny (to me) stories about my interactions with Tom.

On my first visit to OpenWorld in 2006, Tom walked up to me and introduced himself. I was blown away he even knew who I was. It was a massive ego trip. On my next visit to OpenWorld in 2007, I walked up to Tom and said casually, “Hi Tom”. He looked at me, looked down at my conference badge, looked at me again and said, “Hi Tim”. Needless to say, my ego was placed firmly back where it belonged. I still laugh when I think about it now.

At a later OpenWorld I was sitting at a table and someone was fanboying me. Tom came along and asked if he could sit at the same table. I said sure. My fanboy turned and said in a rather snarky tone, “And who are you?” Tom replied, “Hi. I’m Tom Kyte”. Fanboy’s face immediately dropped and at that exact moment in time I became invisible, and fanboy began to fanboy Tom. It was priceless!

Good times!

Cheers

Tim…

The post Video : JSON_TRANSFORM in Oracle Database 21c first appeared on The ORACLE-BASE Blog.Video : JSON_TRANSFORM in Oracle Database 21c was first posted on February 1, 2021 at 10:54 am.
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VirtualBox 6.1.18

Wed, 2021-01-20 08:50

VirtualBox 6.1.18 has been released.

The downloads and changelog are in the usual places.

I’ve installed it on Windows 10, macOS Big Sur and Oracle Linux 7 hosts with no problems.

I’ll be running new Packer builds for the oraclebase/oracle-7 and oraclebase/oracle-8 vagrant boxes, so they should appear with the new version of the guest additions over the next day or so.

Cheers

Tim…

Links:

The post VirtualBox 6.1.18 first appeared on The ORACLE-BASE Blog.VirtualBox 6.1.18 was first posted on January 20, 2021 at 3:50 pm.
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Video : JSON Data Type in Oracle Database 21c

Mon, 2021-01-18 02:30

In today’s video we demonstrate the JSON data type, introduced in Oracle database 21c.

The video is based on this article.

It assumes knowledge of existing JSON support in the Oracle database. If you are not familiar with the functionality Oracle have been including in the database since Oracle 12c, you might want to check out these.

The star of today’s video is my sister-in-law Maria Colgan. As if being related to me by marriage is not enough of a claim to fame, she is also the current reigning queen of the Oracle database. Long live the Queen!

Cheers

Tim…

The post Video : JSON Data Type in Oracle Database 21c first appeared on The ORACLE-BASE Blog.Video : JSON Data Type in Oracle Database 21c was first posted on January 18, 2021 at 9:30 am.
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