Sam Newman's site, a Consultant at ThoughtWorks

This is rapidly becoming a log of my stupid mistakes, but I thought I’d post another beauty from the Extremely Tired And Lacking In Coffee school of programming. A stored procedure was returning some very strange results – namely it was returning the same record no matter what was passed in. My procedure looked like this:

	RETURN mercury.GenericCursor AS
res mercury.GenericCursor;
	SELECT someinfo
	FROM customer
	customerid = customerId and

Anyway, no matter the customerId passed in, back came the same record. Eventually my more SQL-minded colleague pointed out that Oracle is case insensitive at matching the parameter/column name and returned me the first record. A quick rename of the parameter to customer_id and all was well. It would of been nice if Oracle had thrown an error or at least a warning when I gave it the procedure – even so, not one of my finer moments.

3 Responses to “How to hurt your brain with Oracle”

  1. Behrang


    The same also happens in Java:

    class X {

    int a;

    public void method(int a) {
    a = a;

    The above class compiles with no problems but does not do what it was meant to do. The

    a = a

    has to change to

    this.a = a

    to work correctly. The compiler does not give any errors but some IDEs such as Eclipse underline that statement saying it does not have any effect on the variable a…

  2. JM Ibanez

    I usually avoid such issues by prefixing parameter variables with ‘p_’; that way, I know which variable I’m referring to. (And I don’t have to worry about case insensitivity either)

  3. Sam Newman

    Yeah – I use a prefix as well having been bitten by that particular bug a couple of times in my early Java days. Checkstyle and PMD should also pick it up as a usless statement too. The annoying thing with the Oracle bug was that I completely forgot that SQL is case insensitive….


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