Tuesday, August 02, 2011

SQL UPDATE with JOIN statements in Oracle

You are reading this article as you probably have not found an easy way to UPDATE tables which are in a JOIN statement, in an Oracle database. The problem's solution may sound trivial, until you try it out yourself!

Without going through the erroneous ways to try to update joined tables, let me tell you that the only way you can reliably achieve this in Oracle is by using PL/SQL. The reason is that Oracle needs to know beforehand the joined dataset which is to be updated. Thus this needs to be stored in a cursor, and then updated accordingly.

The following piece of PL/SQL code depicts two tables - 'target' and 'source'. We need to update 'target' rows which are found in 'source' by the corresponding value in 'source'.

   commit_interval number := 1;
   l_count number := 0;    
CURSOR c1 is
        s.col1 s_col1,
        s.col2 s_col2,
        s.col3 s_col3
        target t,
        source s
        t.col1 = s.col1 and
        t.col2 = s.col2 and
        t.col3 = s.col3;
    FOR r IN c1 LOOP
       UPDATE target t
          SET t.col1 = r.s_col1
                t.col2 = r.s_col2 and
                t.col3 = r.s_col3;
      l_count := l_count + 1;
      IF (l_count >= commit_interval) THEN
        l_count := 0;
      END IF;
It is important to include all columns in the cursor which are referenced by the WHERE clause in the UPDATE statement.
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