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Best UTL_FILE Practice

with 3 comments

In a post a couple days ago, I promised to provide a best practice approach to reading external files with the UTL_FILE package. My first assumption is that you’re reading unstructured data because structured data is best read by external tables because external tables can read data much faster with the PARALLEL option.

My second assumption is that you’re you don’t know how to use or choose not to use the DBMS_LOB package; specifically, the loadclobfromfile and loadblobfromfile procedures. By the way, Chapter 10 of the Oracle Database 12c PL/SQL Programming has several complete examples using the DBMS_LOB package. My third assumption is that you’d like the external file packaged as a whole, which means you want it returned as a CLOB or BLOB data type.

Here’s a generic function that achieves that and avoids the nonsense with closing the file in the exception handler, or worse yet, wrapping it in another PL/SQL schema-level function:

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CREATE OR REPLACE FUNCTION read_file_to_clob
( pv_location   VARCHAR2
, pv_file_name  VARCHAR2 ) RETURN CLOB IS 
 
  /* Declare local input variables. */
  lv_location      VARCHAR2(60);
  lv_file_name     VARCHAR2(40);
 
  /* Declare a file reference pointer and buffer. */
  lv_file    UTL_FILE.FILE_TYPE;  -- File reference
  lv_line    VARCHAR2(32767);     -- Reading buffer
 
  /* Declare local sizing variables. */
  lv_file_size  NUMBER;
  lv_line_size  NUMBER;
  lv_read_size  NUMBER :=0;
 
    /* Declare local file attribute data. */
  lv_file_exists  BOOLEAN := FALSE;
  lv_block_size   BINARY_INTEGER;
 
  /* Declare a control variable and return CLOB variable. */
  lv_enable  BOOLEAN := FALSE;
  lv_return  CLOB;
BEGIN
  /* Declare local input variables. */
  lv_location  := pv_location;
  lv_file_name := pv_file_name;
 
  /* Check for open file and close when open. */
  IF utl_file.is_open(lv_file) THEN
    utl_file.fclose(lv_file);
  END IF;
 
  /* Read the file attributes to get the physical size. */
  utl_file.fgetattr( location    => lv_location
                   , filename    => lv_file_name
                   , fexists     => lv_file_exists
                   , file_length => lv_file_size
                   , block_size  => lv_block_size ); 
 
  /* Open only files that exist. */
  IF lv_file_exists THEN
 
    /* Create a temporary CLOB in memory. */
    dbms_lob.createtemporary(lv_return, FALSE, dbms_lob.CALL);
 
    /* Open the file for read-only of 32,767 byte lines. */
    lv_file := utl_file.fopen( location     => lv_location
                             , filename     => lv_file_name
                             , open_mode    => 'R'
                             , max_linesize => 32767);
 
 
    /* Read all lines of a text file. */
    WHILE (lv_read_size < lv_file_size) LOOP
      /* Read a line of text until the eof marker. */
      utl_file.get_line( file   => lv_file
                       , buffer => lv_line );
 
      /* Add the line terminator or 2 bytes to its length. */
      lv_line := NVL(lv_line,'')||CHR(10);
      lv_read_size := lv_read_size
                    + LENGTH(NVL(lv_line,CHR(10))) + 2;
 
      /* Write to an empty CLOB or append to an existing CLOB. */
      IF NOT lv_enable THEN
        /* Write to the temporary CLOB variable. */
        dbms_lob.WRITE( lv_return, LENGTH(lv_line), 1, lv_line);
 
        /* Set the control variable. */
        lv_enable := TRUE;
      ELSE
        /* Append to the temporary CLOB variable. */
        dbms_lob.writeappend( lv_return, LENGTH(lv_line),lv_line);
      END IF;
    END LOOP;
 
    /* Close the file. */
    utl_file.fclose(lv_file);
  END IF;
 
  /* This line is never reached. */
  RETURN lv_return;
EXCEPTION
  WHEN OTHERS THEN
    utl_file.fclose(lv_file);
    RAISE NO_DATA_FOUND;
END;
/

You can test the function with the following:

SET LONG 100000
SET PAGESIZE 999
 
SELECT read_file_to_clob('SomeVirtualDirectory','TextFile.txt') AS "Output"
FROM   dual;

If anybody has suggestions for improvements, please pass them along. As always, I hope this helps other developers.

Written by maclochlainn

April 16th, 2014 at 3:07 am

3 Responses to 'Best UTL_FILE Practice'

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  1. […] preceding example lays a foundation […]

  2. I would use RAISE or RAISE NO_DATA_FOUND instead of RETURN NULL in the WHEN OTHERS exception.

    Kevan Gelling

    17 Apr 14 at 5:17 am

  3. Kevan, good point, I’ll make the change. Thanks, Michael

    maclochlainn

    17 Apr 14 at 7:04 pm

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