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Oracle PL/SQL tips by Boobal Ganesan

This is an excerpt from the book Advanced PL/SQL: The Definitive Reference by Boobal Ganesan.

The UTL_ENCODE package was introduced in the Oracle release version 9i for encoding and decoding the raw data, primarily the body of an email message, while transmitting them between the hosts. This package also helps in converting the chunk files into more organized parts of the UTL_FILE package.


This package is not to be confused with the encryption technology as encoding is the process of converting a sequence of characters into a certain format, resulting in efficient transmission or storage and encryption is the process of scrambling the data and making it decipherable only by the intended recipients with a private key.


This package has five subprograms for encoding and decoding. They are,


The ENCODE function converts the binary RAW input to its BASE64 encoded form and the DECODE function accepts the BASE64 encoded form of the RAW data and converts back to its original format.


The prototypes of these functions are shown below,






·         R parameter contains the RAW string


In the below example, a VARCHAR2 string is converted to RAW using the UTL_RAW.CAST_RAW function. After this conversion, the RAW string is then encoded into its BASE64 form through the UTL_ENCODE.BASE64_ENCODE function. This encoded RAW data is to be used during transmission and at the receiving end this string is to be converted back to its original form using the UTL_ENCODE.BASE64_DECODE function. The original VARCHAR2 string can be then extracted from this RAW string using the UTL_RAW.CAST_TO_VARCHAR2 function similar to the below example.



  l_vc_var1 VARCHAR2(32767):='UTL_ENCODE';

  l_rw_var2 RAW(32767);


  dbms_output.put_line('Original string: '||l_vc_var1);

  l_rw_var2:= utl_raw.cast_to_raw(l_vc_var1);

  dbms_output.put_line('Original RAW string: '||l_rw_var2);

  l_rw_var2:= utl_encode.base64_encode(l_rw_var2);

  dbms_output.put_line('Encoded RAW string: '||l_rw_var2);

  l_rw_var2:= utl_encode.base64_decode(l_rw_var2);

  dbms_output.put_line('Decoded RAW string: '||l_rw_var2);


  dbms_output.put_line('Decoded Original string: '||l_vc_var1);






Original string: UTL_ENCODE

Original RAW string: 55544C5F454E434F4445

Encoded RAW string: 5656524D5830564F5130394552513D3D

Decoded RAW string: 55544C5F454E434F4445

Decoded Original string: UTL_ENCODE


Need to learn to program with PL/SQL?  For complete notes on programming in PL/SQL, we recommend the book Advanced PL/SQL: The Definitive Reference by Boobal Ganesan.

This is a complete book on PL/SQL with everything you need to know to write efficient and complex PL/SQL code.

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