Getting started (and "playing around") with PL/SQL (and SQL (and Oracle Database))

Got this email Monday from a fellow new to PL/SQL and Oracle:
I have been in I.T. for a couple of years but always had this feeling that I could do better. I lost that hunger when the company I had worked for 10 years plucked me from the warehouse as a kind of internal promotion program. I guess you could say I slowly settled into a rut.  
I discovered your site recently and I am in the process of reviewing your tutorial videos (I have also started to read newer technical books). I am sure you have been told before but your tutorial videos are great!  
My problem is that I think the lessons would "stick" with me more if I had the chance to work with them and "play" around. 
I have very low self esteem (which I am also working on) so please don't laugh but is there a place that I can download a condensed or tutorial version of Oracle 11g?
First, I am always excited to hear from people who are just getting into Oracle Database, SQL and PL/SQL. Our part of the technology stack is "way down there" and often gets less attention these days. So my first response is always:

Welcome to my world! And it is a rather big, rich and supportive world. There are tens of thousands of experts in Oracle Database, all around the world, many of them eager to help and share their knowledge.

So many websites to visit and learn from, including:

PL/SQL Home Page - a great starting point for resources on PL/SQL

SQL Home Page - a great starting point for resources on SQL

Ask Tom - answers from a few of the biggest Oracle Database brains in the world

Oracle Technology Network, especially the forums - Oracle's own hosted community ecosystem

Oracle Dev Gym - quizzes on SQL, PL/SQL, Database Design and more!

Databases for Developers - a lightweight, 12-week "bootcamp" introduction to databases and SQL for application developers.

But Robert, who wrote the above message, wasn't just looking for sources of information. He wants to be able to play around with the technology - hands-on. Good idea, Robert! Reading, watching, etc. can never replace what you learn by actually writing some code.

These days, Oracle makes it really, REALLY easy to play around with SQL and PL/SQL. Just go to LiveSQL and get started!

LiveSQL offers several pre-defined schemas with data (and more to come soon!), tutorials and lots of scripts contributed by experts around the world.

If you want a more full-blown interaction with Oracle Database, well, hey, you can download a VM of Oracle Database 12c Release 1, with a whole bunch of tools, all for free!


  1. Thanks to Steven 'hardcoding' is a four letter word.
    If you're already in the company and learning PL/SQL that's fantastic. I learned so much faster actually meeting a challenge then I ever did reading books. The challenge now is using that knowledge. I've been using PL/SQL for almost 2 years and all the job postings local to me want senior level developers.

  2. Steven,

    One other incredibly useful resource you might mention is Oracle Express Edition.
    The main areas of difference between this and the VM images you mention are the fact that it's 11g (which is the version your correspondent expressed an interest in) and that it requires much less in the way of system resources to run.
    You can run Oracle XE on a machine with as little as 1GB RAM ( as I know from experience), as opposed to a Virtual Box Image, which seems to need at least 4GB ( including a minimum of 2GB for the guest).

    Express Edition may not be shiny and new, but it is a fantastic resource :-)


  3. Interesting what @anonymous said about job postings ...
    I can hardly see any Oracle jobs posted these days ...
    let alone positions for senior developers,
    except maybe for Oracle DBA-s, even those very rarely.
    Instead, there are a lot of SQL Server jobs, maybe this points to a kind of "trend" happening silently in the background ?

    Learning is valuable in any way, there are people who learn better by reading books, web sites, papers, while others prefer the direct challenge.
    I personally believe in both, with the first one however, preceding the second one.

    The LiveSQL is a very nice gift made by Oracle to the user community,
    though, it has (or maybe still has) a lot of limitations.
    Mainly, it can only access a very limited number of the DBMS packages.
    Also, it does not allow actions that require higher privileges, maybe kind of justifiable.
    Technically, however, I think that they should manage sessions in a different way, aka, allowing full control of the user upon transactions, instead of performing an automatic COMMIT after each page submission.
    I hope that it will still be enhanced further.



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