Changing the datatype of a column from VARCHAR2 to CLOB

Some days ago, I realized I hadn’t estimated correctly the size of a column of a table that receives data from an external source. I defined a VARCHAR2(4000 CHAR) datatype but it came a longer message  (I got an ORA-01461 error), so I decided to move the column to a CLOB datatype.

At first sight, it seems a simple matter. For example, if you have the following table definition:

   create table test_messages
   (message_id number             primary key,
    content   varchar2(4000 char) not null);

You would think to issue the following statement:

   alter table test_messages
   modify (content clob not null);

But, if you do that, you get an ORA-22296 error.

I had several options to solve the problem (please review the reference of this post), but I finally selected the following one:

   alter table test_messages
   add (temp_content clob);

   update test_messages
   set temp_content = content;

   alter table test_messages
   drop column content;

   alter table test_messages
   rename column temp_content to content;

   alter table test_messages
   modify (content not null);

Anyway, it’s very important to review all the application code affected by the change, because, for example, if you use the substr function, you have to change it to dbms_lob.substr. On the other hand, if you use JPA and you have an entity like:

   @Table(name = "TEST_MESSAGES")
   public class TestMessages implements Serializable {

       @Column(name = "MESSAGE_ID")
       private Long messageId;

       @Column(name = "CONTENT", length = 4000, nullable = false)
       private String content;

       public Long getMessageId() {
           return messageId;

       public void setMessageId(Long messageId) {
           this.messageId = messageId;

       public String getContent() {
           return content;

       public void setContent(String content) {
           this.content = content;


You have to change the definition of content to:

   @Column(name = "CONTENT", nullable = false)
   private String content;

Finally, I’d like to point out two issues that could affect to performance. The first one is the possibility of defer the removing of the initial column, running the following statement:

   alter table test_messages
   set unused column content;

instead of:

   alter table test_messages
   drop column content;

Later, in a period of low use of the database, you can issue:

   alter table test_messages
   drop unused columns;

The other thing regarding to performance is that it’s convenient reorganizing the storage of the table by running the following command:

   alter table test_messages move;

Statements like alter index <index_name> rebuild could also be needed.


Debugging Java Stored Procedures

I’ve been a fan of developing Java software stored in Oracle Databases for the last years, it’s the perfect partner of PL/SQL,  where this structured language is difficult to deal with or simply can’t achieve the goal.

One of my first problems was remote debugging, a common issue for every programmer.

First of all, I asked my DBA for the DEBUG CONNECT SESSION system privilege. When I got it, I had to configure my JDeveloper project for remote debugging, I started using the version 10g of this powerful IDE, so I changed the project properties in order to listen for JPDA (Java Platform Debugger Architecture) connections:

Project properties for remote debugging, JDeveloper 10g

Nowadays, I’m working with JDeveloper 11g, where I have to configure a Run/Debug/Profile within the project properties, clicking on the Remote Debugging check-box of the Launch Settings and adjusting the same parameters of the former version:

Project properties for remote debugging, JDeveloper 11g

Later on, the next step was to set the breakpoints I needed in the code, so I could go to the menu Run → Debug, in order to listen for remote debugging sessions. At this point, I was asked for the details of the connection:

Listening process parameters

Once I started the listening process, I could check for it checking the Run Manager.

The next step was to run SQL*Plus (nowadays I use SQLDeveloper), logging on the Database and calling the procedure dbms_debug_jdwp.connect_tcp with two VARCHAR2 parameters: the IP direction of my PC and  the port where my IDE was listening for JPDA connections.

After that, I started my debugging session calling the PL/SQL wrapper from SQL*Plus.

When I finished my debugging session, I ran the procedure dbms_debug_jdwp.disconnect from SQL*Plus and I used the Run Manager of JDeveloper to terminate the listening process.

Finally, I would like to talk of some problems I’ve suffered from: sometimes the debugger disconnects the session without any reason, others it disconnects when the Java code throws an exception in order to be managed by the calling PL/SQL, both times the Oracle Database connection is finished too.