What are cursors? Explain different types of cursors. What are the disadvantages of cursors? How can you avoid cursors?
Cursors allow row-by-row prcessing of the resultsets.
Types of cursors: Static, Dynamic, Forward-only, Keyset-driven. See books online for more information.
Disadvantages of cursors: Each time you fetch a row from the cursor, it results in a network roundtrip, where as a normal SELECT query makes only one rowundtrip, however large the result set is. Cursors are also costly because they require more resources and temporary storage (results in more IO operations). Furthere, there are restrictions on the SELECT statements that can be used with some types of cursors.
Most of the times, set based operations can be used instead of cursors.
Here is an example:
If you have to give a flat hike to your employees using the following criteria:
Salary between 30000 and 40000 — 5000 hike
Salary between 40000 and 55000 — 7000 hike
Salary between 55000 and 65000 — 9000 hike
In this situation many developers tend to use a cursor, determine each employee’s salary and update his salary according to the above formula. But the same can be achieved by multiple update statements or can be combined in a single UPDATE statement as shown below:
UPDATE tbl_emp SET salary = CASE WHEN salary BETWEEN 30000 AND 40000 THEN salary + 5000 WHEN salary BETWEEN 40000 AND 55000 THEN salary + 7000 WHEN salary BETWEEN 55000 AND 65000 THEN salary + 10000
Another situation in which developers tend to use cursors: You need to call a stored procedure when a column in a particular row meets certain condition. You don’t have to use cursors for this.
This can be achieved using WHILE loop, as long as there is a unique key to identify each row. For examples of using WHILE loop for row by row processing, check out the ‘My code library’ section of my site or search for WHILE.