Using first and last - collection method, PL-SQL Programming

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Using FIRST and LAST

FIRST and LAST return the first and last (minimum and maximum) index numbers in a collection. When the collection is empty, the FIRST and LAST return NULL. If the collections contains only one element, the FIRST and LAST return the same index number, as the example below shows:

IF courses.FIRST = courses.LAST THEN ... -- only one element

The later example shows that you can use FIRST and LAST to specify the lower and upper bounds of a loop range provided each element in that range exists:

FOR i IN courses.FIRST..courses.LAST LOOP ...

However, you can use the FIRST or LAST where the integer expression is allowed. In the example below, you use FIRST to initialize the loop counter:

i := courses.FIRST;

WHILE i IS NOT NULL LOOP...

For varrays, the FIRST always returns 1 and LAST always equals to COUNT. For the nested tables, FIRST generally returns 1. But, if you delete elements from the beginning of the nested table, FIRST returns a number bigger than 1. Also for the nested tables, the LAST generally equals to COUNT. But, if you delete elements from the middle of a nested table, the LAST becomes larger than COUNT.


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