Help for Oracle9i Database Online Documentation

Searching

The most popular way to find information is to enter a word or phrase and perform a search:

What if there are Too Many Results?

You might find on your first few searches that you get so many results that you cannot tell which match to look at.

What if there are Too Few Results?

You might occasionally find that you get no results at all.

Searching within a Single Book

The top dropdown lets you pick some of the widely used books and search within those. To restrict the search to a book not listed in the dropdown, use the list of books (top left), which lets you pick any book and search in it.

Interpreting the Search Results

By default, the search results begin as a list of books, showing how many matching topics are in each one. You can use the book title to help decide which book is appropriate, or use the number of matching topics to find the books with the most information.

The search results are always ordered the same way:

Performing Boolean Searches

You can enter the words AND, OR, and NOT in your search terms to perform boolean searches:

For example, here are some search terms you might enter:

create tablespace
create tablespace and parallel
datatype or data type
stored procedure not java
{AND operator}

Performing Wildcard Searches

By default, all search terms are surrounded by wildcards on both sides. For example, searching for intermedia also finds intermediate. If you include typical wildcard characters such as %, _, *, and ? in your search terms, they are interpreted as literal characters rather than wildcards.

To turn off the wildcard expansion, you can surround the search term with curly braces. For example, {intermedia} does not match intermediate.

Dealing with Information that is Scattered, Buried, or at the Wrong Level of Detail

If the information you need is scattered across books, buried deep within a book, or you can't find information to match your experience level, the Virtual Book is your answer.

The Virtual Book uses special processing to categorize information. The categories roughly correspond to different levels of experience and detail:

Introductory
High-level information that is useful when you are first learning about a subject. Typically, you only need to read it once.
Tasks
Includes both step-by-step procedures and more general explanations of how to do things. You can find the topic you want based on your objective, such as creating a table or granting a role. You can also scan the list of tasks to see what the possible actions are for an object.
Examples
If you are experienced, or just like to learn by example, you might only need to look at one of these topics to understand how to do something. Because there is some overlap between tasks and the associated examples, some topics are listed in both places.
Reference
This is strictly factual information, usually concerning syntax or similar details.
Troubleshooting
This information helps recover when something goes wrong. It usually concerns errors, exceptions, and tasks such as debugging. If you want to plan ahead, you can read this information before starting an operation, so that you know what problems to avoid.

The Virtual Book includes other navigation mechanisms like a paper book:

Index
Shows all the index terms containing the search term, together with their second-level and third-level entries. The index terms are collected from the indexes of all the books in the library.
Bibliography
The links from the Virtual Book transport you to various places in the library. You might want to print out some relevant sections, but it is more convenient to print PDF than HTML. The bibliography lists all the books that are represented in the Virtual Book output, and shows which chapters contain the matching topics. You can follow the link to the PDF file for a book, and print out only those chapters containing relevant topics.

To keep the number of matches to a reasonable level, the Virtual Book always searches the title text rather than the complete text of each topic. It also does not support the AND and OR operators as in the regular search. The dropdowns and other checkboxes on the search form have no effect on the Virtual Book output: it always examines all the books and all the topics in the library.

Case-Sensitive Searches Not Available

Because all searches work the same for uppercase and lowercase terms, you do not need to enter a word in all capital letters. If you are searching for a keyword that matches a commonly used word, such as FROM, either use a different method

When Should I Not Use the Search?

If you are searching for a keyword that is the same as a commonly used word, such as FROM, it is faster to use another method rather than sifting through thousands of matches. The Master Index (upper right) has entries for keywords like these. For SQL or PL/SQL keywords, a link (upper left) lets you navigate to the definition.

What if the System is Responding Slowly?

If the system is responding slowly, you may not want to re-run the same search several times to check the results in different books. A checkbox lets you see the search results in an expanded tree view.

If the system is responding slowly because your search returned many thousands of matches, use some of the tips for reducing the number of matches.

Search Tips for First-Time Users

If you are delving into an area for the first time, you can check the box for the Virtual Book feature to see how much coverage that area has in the documentation. The Virtual Book presents all the introductory topics first, so that you can get a quick overview of that area.

Search Tips for Experienced Users

If you know the exact name of the item you want, you may be able to get directly to that topic using the links in the upper left. You can quickly find SQL and PL/SQL syntax, initialization parameters, and catalog views.

When you are familiar with the book or group of books containing your answer, you can use some shortcuts to get there:

Browsing Books

If you think you can recognize the book that contains the information you want, you can go directly to a list of books (top left).

Locating a Specific Book

The books are listed alphabetically, by their short titles, usually without the initial "Oracle", "Oracle8i", or "Oracle9i". They are alphabetized according to their usual informal names, so the "SQL Reference" is under S and the "OCI Guide" is under O.

You can use the list of shortcuts at the top to jump directly to a particular book. Besides the official titles, these shortcuts include entries for some informal short titles. For example, the library includes "Application Developer's Guide - Large Objects (LOBs)" which is often referred to as the "LOBs book", so the shortcuts include an entry LOB.

Locating a Category of Books

To see which books belong to a particular category, use the dropdown above the list of book titles. An icon appears next to the applicable books. (This feature requires Javascript to be enabled in the browser.)

The books for all categories are always visible in the list, because you might not know whether a particular book is part of the administration, application development, or other category. Also, some categories are subsets of others, such as Java within application development. Where appropriate, books are listed in multiple categories.

Finding Information within a Book

The links next to each book name let you jump to the most appropriate spot in the book:

Searching within a Single Book

To do a full-text search within a single book, use the "Search" link next to that book in the list. The resulting search form has that book filled in as the only choice to search. You can make other choices, such as limiting the search to introductory topics or to title text, before performing the search.

If the Book You Want Is Not in the List

This system includes only some of the books that Oracle publishes, in particular, the books about using and programming the database server and associated products on any platform. For other subjects or products, you may need to look elsewhere.

In particular, this system does not include:

Looking Up Keywords by Name

If you know the name of a function, statement, database term, or other kind of keyword, you can look it up in an alphabetical list rather than doing a full-text search. This technique is especially effective for keywords that are also common English words, such as "select" and "where".

In addition to showing you the definitions of keyword, some pages also let you do focused searches, such as for examples that use a particular SQL statement.

Looking Up SQL and PL/SQL Syntax and Examples

This report (top left) shows keywords that are used in SQL and PL/SQL programming:

You can see the definition of the keyword, including its purpose, syntax, parameters, and sometimes usage information and examples. You can also search the entire library for code examples or tutorials where it is used. For example, searching for examples of the CREATE TRIGGER statement might find relevant examples in books about data warehousing, parallel execution, and Java.

Looking Up Definitions in the Master Glossary

The Master Glossary (top left) contains short definitions of specialized database and Oracle terms. Selecting a term pops up a small window, showing the definition from the glossary of a particular book. If more than one book defines the term in its glossary, you can pick the book that is most relevant to you.

The glossary typically does not define terms that are keywords or special names, such as the names of catalog or data dictionary views. These special keywords are listed in separate reports that are linked from the home page.

Looking Up Index Terms in the Master Index

To find the most relevant topics for a given term, you can use the Master Index. It is a compilation of the indexes for all the books. It is useful if you are not sure of the exact spelling, or if a full-text search gives too many matches.

Because the Master Index contains a huge number of entries:

Looking Up Catalog / Data Dictionary Views

Catalog views, also known as data dictionary views, allow you to query database settings and usage information. They are widely used for administration, programming, and troubleshooting. There are specialized sets of views related to performance and backup/recovery.

You can see an alphabetical list of these views (top left). You can see the view definition, which includes its purpose and its columns. You can also search for all places where the view is mentioned, which often turns up how-to information or examples in the administration and performance documentation.

Looking Up Initialization Parameters

Initialization parameters allow you to permanently choose various database settings. They often have corresponding dynamic parameters that can take effect for a particular session. They are widely used for performance tuning, ensuring compatibility, and trading off between available features and memory usage.

You can see an alphabetical list of these parameters (top left). You can see the parameter definition, which includes its purpose and its possible values. You can also search for all places where the parameter is mentioned, which often turns up how-to information or examples in the administration and performance documentation.

Looking Up Error Messages

If you receive an error message, you can look up the corresponding cause and recommended action (top left).

The search form comes with the common message prefix ORA- already filled in. You can just supply the number, or overwrite it with a different message prefix. Because messages are sometimes listed inconsistently, such as ORA-01234 and ORA-1234, a search that does not use a leading zero will also match messages that have the leading zero.

The matching message or messages are shown in the top frame. When you follow the link to the message information, that text is shown in the bottom frame.

The cause and recovery information in the published manual is brief. To see whether there are bugs filed or tutorials written for particular error messages, you can use online Oracle services such as Metalink.

Tips for Faster Web Browsing

The following tips work across many web sites. They can help you find information faster and avoid getting lost.

Finding Information within a Large Page

When a web page is several screens long, you might find it faster to use the browser's "Find" function to find a word within the page. The "Find" function is usually available from a menu, and is different from the "Search" function that might go to another web site.

Saving Your Position with Bookmarks

The various reports, searches, virtual books, and so on from this system can all be bookmarked. So if you find a set of useful information by doing a complicated search, you can bookmark the URL and return to that page later or send it to someone else.

Tips for Using the Back Button

When you have followed several links and want to go back to the original page, you can choose how far back to go rather than pressing "Back" several times. Depending on the browser, either click and hold on the "Back" button, or click on the narrow dropdown next to the "Back" button. You will see a dropdown list of page titles, and can go directly to any one.

Opening Multiple Windows

If you want to keep a particular page available while following links from that page, you can open a link in a new browser window. Right-click on the link, and pick the "open in new window" choice from the popup menu. You can close the window later, and the original page is still available in the original window. This technique is useful for exploring several paths at once.

By default, this system's search function opens its result page as a separate window. This allows you to navigate through a set of search queries, and switch to the original window at any time to try a different way of finding the information.