Documentation Code Snippets

October 11, 2011


Code templates/snippets is one of modern IDE facilities accelerating programming. Some time ago I used to complain about cumbersome main() function signature in Java which escaped my limited memorization abilities until learning that there is convenient code template offered by code assist, so the syntax doesn’t matter. Sometimes the answer is just ctrl-space away!

SQL Developer 3.1 preview release is out and offers improvements in snippet/template arena. First, the old user-programmed templates and snippets are demoted from code assist/insight. You still can invoke them traditional way. The SQL&PL/SQL fragments shown in code insight are fetched from documentation. That’s right, Oracle documentation contains hundreds if not thousands of code snippets, therefore why insist on entering them manually?

Let’s go through examples. Starting anonymous PL/SQL block prompts code insight like this:

The first entry here is an individual keyword suggestion. The three next listings are code fragments captured from SQL history. Then there is "..." prompting that the list can be expanded, followed by the three entries from documentation. Selecting the first one outputs:

Code insight is syntax driven; the code snippet is suggested only in the appropriate context. For example, a standalone "exc" prefix won’t bring any exception snippets, while within our anonymous PL/SQL block it would:

If you are wondering where particular snippet is coming from, you can press the button with library icon. It will open new browser window pointing to the relevant documentation page:


This feature may compete with Google for the fastest way to a forgotten corner of oracle documentation. Try it: REGEXP signature, recursive WITH, every other clause from humongous SQL syntax is right there at you keystroke.

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