Automatic Locks in DDL Operations

A data dictionary (DDL) lock protects the definition of a schema object while it is acted upon or referred to by an ongoing DDL operation. For example, when a user creates a procedure, Oracle Database automatically acquires DDL locks for all schema objects referenced in the procedure definition. The DDL locks prevent these objects from being altered or dropped before procedure compilation is complete.

Oracle Database acquires a DDL lock automatically on behalf of any DDL transaction requiring it. Users cannot explicitly request DDL locks. Only individual schema objects that are modified or referenced are locked during DDL operations. The whole data dictionary is never locked.

DDL operations also acquire DML locks on the schema object to be modified.

Exclusive DDL Locks

An exclusive DDL lock prevents other session from obtaining a DDL or DML lock.

Most DDL operations require exclusive DDL locks to prevent destructive interference with other DDL operations that might modify or reference the same schema object. For example, a DROP TABLE operation is not allowed to drop a table while an ALTER TABLE operation is adding a column to it, and vice versa. However, a query against the table is not blocked.

Exclusive DDL locks last for the duration of DDL statement execution and automatic commit. During the acquisition of an exclusive DDL lock, if another DDL lock is already held on the schema object by another operation, then the acquisition waits until the older DDL lock is released and then proceeds.

Share DDL Locks

A share DDL lock for a resource prevents destructive interference with conflicting DDL operations, but allows data concurrency for similar DDL operations.

For example, when a CREATE PROCEDURE statement is run, the containing transaction acquires share DDL locks for all referenced tables. Other transactions can concurrently create procedures that reference the same tables and acquire concurrent share DDL locks on the same tables, but no transaction can acquire an exclusive DDL lock on any referenced table.

A share DDL lock lasts for the duration of DDL statement execution and automatic commit. Thus, a transaction holding a share DDL lock is guaranteed that the definition of the referenced schema object is constant for the duration of the transaction.

Breakable Parse Locks

A parse lock is held by a SQL statement or PL/SQL program unit for each schema object that it references. Parse locks are acquired so that the associated shared SQL area can be invalidated if a referenced object is altered or dropped. A parse lock is called a breakable parse lock because it does not disallow any DDL operation and can be broken to allow conflicting DDL operations.

A parse lock is acquired in the shared pool during the parse phase of SQL statement execution. The lock is held as long as the shared SQL area for that statement remains in the shared pool.