SQL Plus

SQL Plus content image


Are you keen on understanding the potential to enhance your Oracle database management abilities? SQL Plus is a powerful command-line tool included in the Oracle Database software package. Users can use it to work with the database, run SQL queries, PL/SQL commands, and manage the database.

This manual contains steps for installation and important features and commands to begin.

What is SQL Plus?

The Oracle Database software bundles SQL Plus, an interactive command-line interface and scripting tool. It lets users talk to the Oracle database by typing in and running SQL, PL/SQL, and Plus commands. This is an essential tool for database administrators, developers, and analysts who work with Oracle databases.

SQL Plus main interactions

Some key features include:

  • Executing SQL statements and viewing results
  • Running PL/SQL blocks and scripts
  • Formatting query results
  • Performing database administration tasks
  • Automating tasks through scripting
  • Interacting with the operating system

Users can quickly and efficiently manage their databases, run queries, load data, and automate routine tasks.

SQL Plus Installing

If you have Oracle Database installed, you probably already have SQL Plus because it comes with the software package. Nonetheless, if there is a need to set up Plus individually, the following are the broad steps:

  1. Download the Oracle Instant Client package for your operating system from the Oracle website. Choose the version that matches your Oracle Database.
  2. Extract the downloaded package to a directory of your choice.
  3. Set the required environment variables:
  • Set the PATH variable to include the directory where SQL Plus is located.
  • Set the ORACLE_HOME variable to the directory where you extracted the Instant Client package.
  • Set the TNS_ADMIN variable to the location of your tnsnames.ora file (if using one).

For example, on Linux or macOS, you can set the environment variables in your .bash_profile file:

export PATH=/path/to/instantclient_directory:$PATH
export ORACLE_HOME=/path/to/instantclient_directory
export TNS_ADMIN=/path/to/tnsnames.ora
  • Verify the Plus installation by running the sqlplus -version command in your terminal. It should display the SQL Plus version information.
  • Now you’re ready to start connecting to your Oracle databases and running commands.

    Connecting to a Database

    To start using SQL Plus, you first need to connect to an Oracle database. Here’s how:

    1. Open a terminal or command prompt.
    2. Run the sqlplus command followed by your username and password:
    sqlplus username/password@connect_identifier

    Replace username, password, and connect_identifier with your actual database credentials and connection details.

    For example, to connect as the system user with “password” password to a local database with SID “orcl”, the command would be:

    sqlplus system/password@orcl

    If the connection is successful, you’ll see the prompt, which looks like this:


    You are now connected to the database and can start running SQL and PL/SQL commands.

    Example: Creating a Test User

    Let’s create a test user called testuser with the password testpass to use for our examples. Connect to your database as a user with administrative privileges (e.g., system) and run the following commands:

    CREATE USER testuser IDENTIFIED BY testpass;

    The CREATE USER command creates a new user. The GRANT command gives the user permissions to connect to the database and create things.

    Now you can connect to the database as testuser:

    sqlplus testuser/testpass@connect_identifier

    With the test user created and connected, we’re ready to explore some basic SQL Plus commands.

    Basic SQL Plus Commands

    SQL Plus has various commands for managing the database, formatting query results, and customizing the environment. Here are some basic commands to get you started:

    To run a SQL query, simply enter the query at the Plus prompt and end it with a semicolon (;). For example:

    SELECT * FROM employees;

    This query selects all rows and columns from the employees table. SQL Plus will display the query results in a formatted table.

    Formatting Query Results

    SQL Plus provides several commands to format query results. Here are a few common ones:

    • COLUMN column_name FORMAT format: Sets the display format for a specific column.
    • TTITLE text: Sets the title for the top of each report page.
    • BTITLE text: Sets the title for the bottom of each report page.
    • BREAK ON column: Creates a break group on a specified column, which inserts a blank line and repeats column values when the value changes.

    For example, to format the salary column as currency and add a title to the report:

    COLUMN salary FORMAT $99,999
    TTITLE 'Employee Salaries'
    SELECT first_name, last_name, salary FROM employees;

    This report will show the names and salaries of employees. The system will display salaries in currency format with a title.

    Saving and Running Scripts

    SQL Plus allows you to save a series of commands into a script file and run them later. To save your current Plus session to a file, use the SPOOL command:

    SPOOL output.txt
    SELECT * FROM departments;

    This will save the output of the SELECT statement to a file named output.txt.

    To run a script file, use the @ command followed by the script filename:


    This will execute the commands in the myscript.sql file.

    Example of Using SQL Plus: Creating a Table and Inserting Data

    Let’s create a simple products table and insert some sample data using SQL Plus:

    CREATE TABLE products (
      product_id NUMBER PRIMARY KEY,
      product_name VARCHAR2(100),
      price NUMBER(10,2)
    INSERT INTO products VALUES (1, 'Laptop', 999.99);
    INSERT INTO products VALUES (2, 'Smartphone', 499.99);
    INSERT INTO products VALUES (3, 'Headphones', 99.99);

    Now, let’s format and query the data:

    COLUMN product_name FORMAT A20
    COLUMN price FORMAT $999.99
    SELECT * FROM products;

    The output should look something like this:

    ---------- ---------------- -------
             1 Laptop           $999.99
             2 Smartphone       $499.99
             3 Headphones        $99.99


    In this guide, we’ve covered the basics of SQL Plus, Oracle’s powerful command-line interface for managing databases. We’ve explored what Plus is, how to install it, connect to a database, and run basic commands. You’ve also seen examples of formatting query results, saving and running scripts, and creating tables and inserting data.

    This is important for working with Oracle databases. It helps with querying data, automating tasks, and managing databases. This guide will help you start using Plus effectively in your database projects.