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Triggers in PL/SQL

Triggers in oracle are blocks of PL/SQL code which oracle engine can execute automatically based on some action or event.

These events can be:

  • DDL statements (CREATE, ALTER, DROP, TRUNCATE)
  • DML statements (INSERT, SELECT, UPDATE, DELETE)
  • Database operation like connecting or disconnecting to oracle (LOGON, LOGOFF, SHUTDOWN)

Triggers are automatically and repeatedly called upon by oracle engine on satisfying certain condition.

Triggers can be activated or deactivated depending on the requirements.

If triggers are activated then they are executed implicitly by oracle engine and if triggers are deactivated then they are executed explicitly by oracle engine.


PL/SQL: Uses of Triggers

Here we have mentioned a few use cases where using triggers proves very helpful:

  • Maintaining complex constraints which is either impossible or very difficult via normal constraint(like primary, foreign, unique etc) applying technique.
  • Recording the changes made on the table.
  • Automatically generating primary key values.
  • Prevent invalid transactions to occur.
  • Granting authorization and providing security to database.
  • Enforcing referential integrity.

PL/SQL: Parts of a Trigger

Whenever a trigger is created, it contains the following three sequential parts:

  • Triggering Event or Statement: The statements due to which a trigger occurs is called triggering event or statement. Such statements can be DDL statements, DML statements or any database operation, executing which gives rise to a trigger.
  • Trigger Restriction: The condition or any limitation applied on the trigger is called trigger restriction. Thus, if such a condition is TRUE then trigger occurs otherwise it does not occur.
  • Trigger Action: The body containing the executable statements that is to be executed when trigger occurs that is with the execution of Triggering statement and upon evaluation of Trigger restriction as True is called Trigger Action.

PL/SQL: Types of Triggers

The above diagram clearly indicated that Triggers can be classified into three categories:

  1. Level Triggers
  2. Event Triggers
  3. Timing Triggers

which are further divided into different parts.

Level Triggers

There are 2 different types of level triggers, they are:

  1. ROW LEVEL TRIGGERS
    • It fires for every record that got affected with the execution of DML statements like INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE etc.
    • It always use a FOR EACH ROW clause in a triggering statement.
  2. STATEMENT LEVEL TRIGGERS
    • It fires once for each statement that is executed.

Event Triggers

There are 3 different types of event triggers, they are:

  1. DDL EVENT TRIGGER
    • It fires with the execution of every DDL statement(CREATE, ALTER, DROP, TRUNCATE).
  2. DML EVENT TRIGGER
    • It fires with the execution of every DML statement(INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE).
  3. DATABASE EVENT TRIGGER
    • It fires with the execution of every database operation which can be LOGON, LOGOFF, SHUTDOWN, SERVERERROR etc.

Timing Triggers

There are 2 different types of timing triggers, they are:

  1. BEFORE TRIGGER
    • It fires before executing DML statement.
    • Triggering statement may or may not executed depending upon the before condition block.
  2. AFTER TRIGGER
    • It fires after executing DML statement.

Syntax for creating Triggers

Following is the syntax for creating a trigger:

CREATE OR REPLACE TRIGGER <trigger_name>
BEFORE/AFTER/INSTEAD OF
	INSERT/DELETE/UPDATE ON <table_name>
REFERENCING (OLD AS O, NEW AS N)
	FOR EACH ROW WHEN (test_condition)
DECLARE
	-- Variable declaration;
BEGIN
	-- Executable statements;
EXCEPTION
	-- Error handling statements;
END <trigger_name>;
END;

where,

CREATE OR REPLACE TRIGGER is a keyword used to create a trigger and <trigger_name> is user-defined where a trigger can be given a name.

BEFORE/AFTER/INSTEAD OF specify the timing of the trigger's occurance. INSTEAD OF is used when a view is created.

INSERT/UPDATE/DELETE specify the DML statement.

<table_name> specify the name of the table on which DML statement is to be applied.

REFERENCING is a keyword used to provide reference to old and new values for DML statements.

FOR EACH ROW is the clause used to specify row level tigger.

WHEN is a clause used to specify condition to be applied and is only applicable for row-level trigger.

DECLARE, BEGIN, EXCEPTION, END are the different sections of PL/SQL code block containing variable declaration, executable statements, error handling statements and marking end of PL/SQL block respectively where DECLARE and EXCEPTION part are optional.


Time for an Example!

Below we have a simple program to demonstrate the use of Triggers in PL/SQL code block.

CREATE OR REPLACE TRIGGER CheckAge
BEFORE
INSERT OR UPDATE ON student
FOR EACH ROW
BEGIN
	IF :new.Age>30 THEN
		raise_application_error(-20001, 'Age should not be greater than 30');
	END IF;
END;

Trigger created.


Following is the STUDENT table,

ROLLNO SNAME AGECOURSE
11 Anu 20 BSC
12 Asha 21 BCOM
13 Arpit 18 BCA
14 Chetan 20 BCA
15 Nihal 19 BBA

After initializing the trigger CheckAge, whenever we will insert any new values or update the existing values in the above table STUDENT our trigger will check the age before executing INSERT or UPDATE statements and according to the result of triggering restriction or condition it will execute the statement.

Let's take a few examples and try to understand this,

Example 1:

INSERT into STUDENT values(16, 'Saina', 32, 'BCOM');

Age should not be greater than 30

Example 2:

INSERT into STUDENT values(17, 'Anna', 22, 'BCOM');

1 row created

Example 3:

UPDATE STUDENT set age=31 where ROLLNO=12; 

Age should not be greater than 30

Example 4:

 UPDATE STUDENT set age=23 where ROLLNO=12; 

1 row updated.