One of the main differences between UDF and SP is that UDF can only have select statements inside it and not insert/update/delete statements. Can someone please explain the reason behind this? The below function:

create function test(..)
insert into EMPLOYEE('22',12000,'john');
return 0;

is not valid. But why is this so?


1 Answer 1


This is not about function (UDF) vs procedure. It is the context where you use them.

You can have DML operations in a function:

SQL> create table t1 (c1 number);

Table created.

SQL> create or replace function f1 return number as
  2  begin
  3    insert into t1 values (1);
  4    commit;
  5    return 0;
  6  end;
  7  /

Function created.

SQL> declare
  2    i number;
  3  begin
  4    i := f1;
  5  end;
  6  /

PL/SQL procedure successfully completed.

SQL> select * from t1;


But if you use your function as and UDF in a query:

SQL> select f1 from dual;
select f1 from dual
ERROR at line 1:
ORA-14551: cannot perform a DML operation inside a query
ORA-06512: at "BP.F1", line 3

You can still work around this with an autonomous transaction:

SQL> create or replace function f2 return number as
  2    pragma autonomous_transaction;
  3  begin
  4    insert into t1 values (1);
  5    commit;
  6    return 0;
  7  end;
  8  /

Function created.

SQL> select f2 from dual;


SQL> select * from t1;


But should you do this? I do not think so.

  • 2
    Your last statement still begs another "Why?". And I think the answer to that "why" would work as the answer to the OP's "why" too, even though the OP was incorrect about permissibility of DML in functions. Just saying. I like the answer anyway, learned something new.
    – Andriy M
    Apr 27, 2018 at 14:26
  • @AndriyM I find it a very bad idea to create code with unexpected side effects. If I run a query to just read data, I expect it to query data, and not modify something else in the background. Yes, I know, auditing, block cleanout and other mechanisnms can cause unexcpected writes on reads as well... Apr 27, 2018 at 15:13
  • Oh, you don't need to tell me, because my position on this is exactly the same as yours. It's shaping it into words that I have trouble with, otherwise I would've posted my own answer or edited yours :)
    – Andriy M
    Apr 27, 2018 at 15:48

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