PL/SQL Cursor FOR LOOP

Summary: in this tutorial, you will learn how to use the PL/SQL cursor FOR LOOP statement to fetch and process every record from a cursor.

Introduction to PL/SQL cursor FOR LOOP statement

The cursor FOR LOOP statement is an elegant extension of the numeric FOR LOOP statement.

The numeric FOR LOOP executes the body of a loop once for every integer value in a specified range.  Similarly, the cursor FOR LOOP executes the body of the loop once for each row returned by the query associated with the cursor.

A nice feature of the cursor FOR LOOP statement is that it allows you to fetch every row from a cursor without manually managing the execution cycle i.e.,  OPEN, FETCH, and CLOSE.

The cursor FOR LOOP implicitly creates its loop index as a record variable with the row type in which the cursor returns and then opens the cursor.

In each loop iteration, the cursor FOR LOOP statement fetches a row from the result set into its loop index. If there is no row to fetch, the cursor FOR LOOP closes the cursor.

The cursor is also closed if a statement inside the loop transfers control outside the loop, e.g., EXIT and GOTO, or raises an exception.

The following illustrates the syntax of the cursor FOR LOOP statement:

FOR record IN cursor_name LOOP process_record_statements; END LOOP;
Code language: SQL (Structured Query Language) (sql)

1) record

The record is the name of the index that the cursor FOR LOOP statement declares implicitly as a %ROWTYPE record variable of the type of the cursor.

The record variable is local to the cursor FOR LOOP statement. It means that you can only reference it inside the loop, not outside. After the cursor FOR LOOP statement execution ends, the record variable becomes undefined.

2) cursor_name

The cursor_name is the name of an explicit cursor that is not opened when the loop starts.

Note that besides the cursor name, you can use a SELECT statement as shown below:

FOR record IN (select_statement) LOOP process_record_statements; END LOOP;
Code language: SQL (Structured Query Language) (sql)

In this case, the cursor FOR LOOP declares, opens, fetches from, and closes an implicit cursor. However, the implicit cursor is internal; therefore, you cannot reference it.

Note that Oracle Database automatically optimizes a cursor FOR LOOP to work similarly to a BULK COLLECT query. Although your code looks as if it fetched one row at a time, Oracle Database fetches multiple rows at a time and allows you to process each row individually.

PL/SQL cursor FOR LOOP examples

Let’s look at some examples of using the cursor FOR LOOP statement to see how it works.

A) PL/SQL cursor FOR LOOP example

The following example declares an explicit cursor and uses it in the cursor FOR LOOP statement.

DECLARE CURSOR c_product IS SELECT product_name, list_price FROM products ORDER BY list_price DESC; BEGIN FOR r_product IN c_product LOOP dbms_output.put_line( r_product.product_name || ': $' || r_product.list_price ); END LOOP; END;
Code language: SQL (Structured Query Language) (sql)

In this example, the SELECT statement of the cursor retrieves data from the products table. The FOR LOOP statement opened, fetched each row in the result set, displayed the product information, and closed the cursor.

B) Cursor FOR LOOP with a SELECT statement example

The following example is equivalent to the example above but uses a query in a cursor FOR LOOP statement.

BEGIN FOR r_product IN ( SELECT product_name, list_price FROM products ORDER BY list_price DESC ) LOOP dbms_output.put_line( r_product.product_name || ': $' || r_product.list_price ); END LOOP; END;
Code language: SQL (Structured Query Language) (sql)

In this tutorial, you have learned how to use the PL/SQL cursor FOR LOOP to fetch data from a cursor.

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