Is Ref a Data Type in Oracle?


Scott Campbell

Is Ref a Data Type in Oracle?

When it comes to data types in Oracle, you might have come across various types such as number, string, date, etc. However, you might be wondering if ‘Ref’ is also a data type in Oracle. In this article, we will explore the concept of ‘Ref’ and its significance in Oracle.

Understanding the Ref Data Type

In Oracle, the ‘Ref’ data type is not a primitive data type like numbers or strings. Instead, it is a reference data type that allows you to create references to objects stored in the database. These objects can be instances of user-defined object types or system-defined object types.

The purpose of using the ‘Ref’ data type is to establish relationships between different objects within the database. It enables you to create associations between tables or even between rows within a table.

Working with Refs

To work with ‘Ref’ data type in Oracle, you need to follow certain steps:

  • Create an object type: First, you need to define an object type using the CREATE TYPE statement. This object type will represent the structure of the object for which you want to create references.
  • Create a table: Next, you can create a table that includes a column of the previously defined object type.
  • Create an instance: Once the table is created, you can insert rows into it and create instances of your defined object type.
  • Create references: Finally, you can use the REF keyword to create references to specific instances within your table.

Note that when creating references using the ‘Ref’ data type, you are not duplicating the actual object. Instead, you are creating a pointer to the original object stored in the database.

Benefits of Using Refs

Using ‘Ref’ data type in Oracle offers several advantages:

  • Data Integrity: By establishing relationships between objects using references, you ensure data integrity as changes made to one object automatically reflect in all referencing objects.
  • Efficiency: Since references only store the address of the original object, they require less storage space compared to duplicating the entire object.
  • Flexibility: Refs allow you to create complex relationships between objects, enabling you to represent real-world scenarios more accurately.


In conclusion, ‘Ref’ is a valuable data type in Oracle that allows you to create references to objects stored in the database. It enables you to establish relationships between different objects and offers benefits such as data integrity, efficiency, and flexibility. By understanding and utilizing the ‘Ref’ data type effectively, you can enhance your database design and improve overall application performance.

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