PL/SQL GOTO Statement

Summary: this tutorial introduces you PL/SQL GOTO statement and discusses the restrictions of the GOTO statement.

Introduction to PL/SQL GOTO statement

The GOTO statement allows you to transfer control to a labeled block or statement. The following illustrates the syntax of the GOTO statement:

GOTO label_name;
Code language: SQL (Structured Query Language) (sql)

The label_name is the name of a label that identifies the target statement. In the program, you surround the label name with double enclosing angle brackets as shown below:

<<label_name>>;
Code language: SQL (Structured Query Language) (sql)

When PL/SQL encounters a GOTO statement, it transfers control to the first executable statement after the label.

PL/SQL GOTO statement example

The following shows an example of using the GOTO statements.

BEGIN GOTO second_message; <<first_message>> DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE( 'Hello' ); GOTO the_end; <<second_message>> DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE( 'PL/SQL GOTO Demo' ); GOTO first_message; <<the_end>> DBMS_OUTPUT.PUT_LINE( 'and good bye...' ); END;
Code language: SQL (Structured Query Language) (sql)

The output is:

PL/SQL GOTO Demo Hello and good Bye...
Code language: SQL (Structured Query Language) (sql)

The following explains the sequence of the block in detail:

  • First, the GOTO second_message statement is encountered, therefore, the control is passed to the statement after the second_message label.
  • Second, the GOTO first_message is encountered, so the control is transferred to the statement after the first_message label.
  • Third, the GOTO the_end is reached, hence the control is passed to the statement after the the_end label.

The picture below illustrates the sequence:

PL/SQL GOTO Example

PL/SQL GOTO statement restrictions

The GOTO statement is subject to the following restrictions.

First, you cannot use a GOTO statement to transfer control into an IF, CASE or LOOP statement, the same for sub-block.

The following example attempts to transfer control into an IF statement using a GOTO statement:

DECLARE n_sales NUMBER; n_tax NUMBER; BEGIN GOTO inside_if_statement; IF n_sales > 0 THEN <<inside_if_statement>> n_tax := n_sales * 0.1; END IF; END;
Code language: SQL (Structured Query Language) (sql)

Oracle issued the following error:

PLS-00375: illegal GOTO statement; this GOTO cannot branch to label 'INSIDE_IF_STATEMENT'
Code language: SQL (Structured Query Language) (sql)

Second, you cannot use a GOTO statement to transfer control from one clause to another in the IF statement e.g., from IF clause to ELSIF or ELSE clause, or from one WHEN clause to another in the CASE statement.

The following example attempts to transfer control to a clause in the IF statement:

DECLARE n_sales NUMBER; n_commission NUMBER; BEGIN n_sales := 120000; IF n_sales > 100000 THEN n_commission := 0.2; GOTO zero_commission; elsif n_sales > 50000 THEN n_commission := 0.15; elsif n_sales > 20000 THEN n_commission := 0.1; ELSE <<zero_commission>> n_commission := 0; END IF; END;
Code language: SQL (Structured Query Language) (sql)

Oracle issued the following error.

PLS-00375: illegal GOTO statement; this GOTO cannot branch to label 'ZERO_COMMISSION'
Code language: SQL (Structured Query Language) (sql)

Third, you cannot use a GOTO statement to transfer control out of a subprogram or into an exception handler.

Fourth, you cannot use a GOTO statement to transfer control from an exception handler back into the current block.

In this tutorial, you have learned how to use the PL/SQL GOTO statement to transfer control to a labeled block or statement.

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