We have already mentioned that FORALL can only be used when one DML statement needs to be executed. Unfortunately, that’s not where the bad news ends.

Any unhandled exception causes all IUD changes to be rolled back. The exception to this is when exceptions are managed with the SAVE EXCEPTIONS clause. If there are failures that are saved, Oracle will raise a single exception (ORA-24381) for the entire statement after completing the FORALL. You can query the pseudo-collection SQL%BULK_EXCEPTIONS to get the information about these exceptions.


Any collection index referenced in the IUD statement of a FORALL cannot be an expression: it must be the plain index itself. The collection index is implicitly defined by Oracle as a PLS_INTEGER.

Another gotcha is that bulk SQL can only be performed on local tables: you cannot do a BULK COLLECT over a database connection. Furthermore, parallel DML is disabled for bulk SQL.

As of Oracle Database 10gR2, the PL/SQL compiler automatically optimizes most cursor FOR loops into constructs that run with performance comparable to a BULK COLLECT. Yay! Unfortunately, this does not happen automatically when there are IUD statements in your FORALL statements: these statements require manual intervention. Boo!

For pipelined table functions we can define the collection types they return inside a package specification. Oracle automatically creates database (i.e. schema-level) types based on the record and collection types defined in the package specification. The reason Oracle does this is that table functions are invoked by the SQL engine, which does not know about PL/SQL constructs inside the package. As such, Oracle must ensure that the SQL engine can do its work, so it creates the shadow types implicitly. These types typically have names that start with SYS_PLSQL_. So, while you have all your types in the same file (i.e. package specification), which makes maintaining your code base easier, you end up with system-generated identifiers for types, which in itself can be a maintenance issue.