2 Sybase Gateway Features and Restrictions

After the gateway is installed and configured, you can use the gateway to access Sybase data, pass Sybase commands from applications to the Sybase database, perform distributed queries, and copy data.


Remote Insert Rowsource

A remote insert rowsource feature allows remote insert requiring local Oracle data to work through the Oracle database and Oracle Database Gateway. This functionality requires that the Oracle database and the Oracle Database Gateway to be version 12.2 or later.

By Oracle Database design, some distributed statement must be executed at the database link site. But in certain circumstances, there is data needed to execute these queries that must be fetched from the originating Oracle Database. Under homogeneous connections, the remote Oracle database would call back the source Oracle database for such data. But in heterogeneous connections, this is not viable, because this means that the Foreign Data Store would have to query call back functions, or data, that can only be provided by the Oracle instance that issued the query. In general, these kinds of statements are not something that can be supported through the Oracle Database Gateway.

The following categories of SQL statements results in a callback:

  • Any DML with a sub-select, which refers to a table in Oracle database.

  • Any DELETE, INSERT, UPDATE or "SELECT... FOR UPDATE..." SQL statement containing SQL functions or statements that needs to be executed at the originating Oracle database.

    These SQL functions include USER, USERENV, and SYSDATE; and involve the selection of data from the originating Oracle database.

  • Any SQL statement that involves a table in Oracle database, and a LONG or LOB column in a remote table.

An example of a remote INSERT statement that can work through the remote insert rowsource feature is as follows:

INSERT INTO gateway_table@gateway_link select * from local_table;

Using the Pass-Through Feature

The gateway can pass Sybase commands or statements from the application to the Sybase database using the DBMS_HS_PASSTHROUGH package.

Use the DBMS_HS_PASSTHROUGH package in a PL/SQL block to specify the statement to be passed to the Sybase database, as follows:

    num_rows INTEGER;

Where command cannot be one of the following:




  • SAVE


  • Sybase tool commands

The DBMS_HS_PASSTHROUGH package supports passing bind values and executing SELECT statements.


TRUNCATE cannot be used in a pass-through statement.

See Also:

Oracle Database PL/SQL Packages and Types Reference and Chapter 3, Features of Oracle Database Gateways, of Oracle Database Heterogeneous Connectivity User's Guide for more information about the DBMS_HS_PASSTHROUGH package.

Executing Stored Procedures and Functions

Using the procedural feature, the gateway can execute stored procedures that are defined in the Sybase database. It is not necessary to relink the gateway or define the procedure to the gateway, but the procedure's access privileges must permit access by the gateway.

Standard PL/SQL statements are used to execute a stored procedure.

The gateway supports stored procedures in three mutually exclusive modes:

  • Normal mode: Have access to IN/OUT arguments only

  • Return value mode: Have a return value for all stored procedures

  • Resultset mode: Out values are available as last result set

Return Values and Stored Procedures

By default, all stored procedures and functions do not return a return value to the user. To enable return values, set the HS_FDS_PROC_IS_FUNC parameter in the initialization parameter file.

See Also:

Initialization Parameters for information about both editing the initialization parameter file and the HS_FDS_PROC_IS_FUNC parameter.


If you set the HS_FDS_PROC_IS_FUNC gateway initialization parameter, you must change the syntax of the procedure execute statement for all existing stored procedures.

In the following example, the employee name JOHN SMYTHE is passed to the Sybase stored procedure REVISE_SALARY. The stored procedure retrieves the salary value from the Sybase database to calculate a new yearly salary for JOHN SMYTHE. The revised salary returned in RESULT is used to update EMP in a table of an Oracle database:


The procedural feature automatically converts non-Oracle data types to and from PL/SQL data types.

Result Sets and Stored Procedures

The Oracle Database Gateway for Sybase provides support for stored procedures which return result sets.

By default, all stored procedures and functions do not return a result set to the user. To enable result sets, set the HS_FDS_RESULTSET_SUPPORT parameter in the initialization parameter file.

See Also:

Initialization Parameters for information about both editing the initialization parameter file and the HS_FDS_RESULTSET_SUPPORT parameter. For further information about Oracle support for result sets in non-Oracle databases see Oracle Database Heterogeneous Connectivity User's Guide.


If you set the HS_FDS_RESULTSET_SUPPORT gateway initialization parameter, you must change the syntax of the procedure execute statement for all existing stored procedures or errors will occur.

When accessing stored procedures with result sets through the Oracle Database Gateway for Sybase, you will be in the sequential mode of Heterogeneous Services.

The Oracle Database Gateway for Sybase returns the following information to Heterogeneous Services during procedure description:

  • All the input arguments of the remote stored procedure

  • None of the output arguments

  • One out argument of type ref cursor (corresponding to the first result set returned by the stored procedure)

Client programs have to use the virtual package function dbms_hs_result_set.get_next_result_set to get the ref cursor for subsequent result sets. The last result set returned is the out argument from the procedure.

The limitations of accessing result sets are the following:

  • Result sets returned by a remote stored procedure have to be retrieved in the order in which they were placed on the wire

  • On execution of a stored procedure, all result sets returned by a previously executed stored procedure will be closed (regardless of whether the data has been completely

In the following example, the Sybase stored procedure is executed to fetch the contents of the emp and dept tables from Sybase:

create procedure REFCURPROC (@arg1 varchar(255), @arg2 varchar(255) output)
select @arg2 = @arg1
select * from EMP
select * from DEPT

This stored procedure assigns the input parameter arg1 to the output parameter arg2, opens the query SELECT * FROM EMP in ref cursor rc1, and opens the query SELECT * FROM DEPT in ref cursor rc2.


Chained mode must be set before creating the stored procedure. Issue the following command in Sybase: set chained on

OCI Program Fetching from Result Sets in Sequential Mode

The following example shows OCI program fetching from result sets in sequential mode:

OCIBind *BNDH[3];
OraText arg1[20];
OraText arg2[255];
OCIResult *rset;
OCIStmt *rstmt;
ub2 rcode[3];
ub2 rlens[3];
sb2 inds[3];
OraText *stmt = (OraText *) "begin refcurproc@SYBS(:1,:2,:3); end;";
OraText *n_rs_stm = (OraText *)

/* Prepare procedure call statement */

/* Handle Initialization code skipped */
OCIStmtPrepare(STMH, ERRH, stmt, strlen(stmt), OCI_NTV_SYNTAX, OCI_DEFAULT);

/* Bind procedure arguments */
inds[0] = 0;
strcpy((char *) arg1, "Hello World");
rlens[0] = strlen(arg1);
OCIBindByPos(STMH, &BNDH[0], ERRH, 1, (dvoid *) arg1, 20, SQLT_CHR,
             (dvoid *) &(inds[0]), &(rlens[0]), &(rcode[0]), 0, (ub4 *) 0, 
inds[1] = -1;
OCIBindByPos(STMH, &BNDH[1], ERRH, 1, (dvoid *) arg2, 20, SQLT_CHR,
             (dvoid *) &(inds[1]), &(rlens[1]), &(rcode[1]), 0, (ub4 *) 0, 

inds[2] = 0;
rlens[2] = 0;
OCIDescriptorAlloc(ENVH, (dvoid **) &rset, OCI_DTYPE_RSET, 0, (dvoid **) 0);
OCIBindByPos(STMH, &BNDH[2], ERRH, 2, (dvoid *) rset, 0, SQLT_RSET,
             (dvoid *) &(inds[2]), &(rlens[2]), &(rcode[2]),
             0, (ub4 *) 0, OCI_DEFAULT);

/* Execute procedure */
OCIStmtExecute(SVCH, STMH, ERRH, 1, 0, (CONST OCISnapshot *) 0,
               (OCISnapshot *) 0, OCI_DEFAULT);

/* Convert result set to statement handle */
OCIResultSetToStmt(rset, ERRH);
rstmt = (OCIStmt *) rset;

/* After this the user can fetch from rstmt */
/* Issue get_next_result_set call to get handle to next_result set */
/* Prepare Get next result set procedure call */

OCIStmtPrepare(STMH, ERRH, n_rs_stm, strlen(n_rs_stm), OCI_NTV_SYNTAX,

/* Bind return value */
OCIBindByPos(STMH, &BNDH[1], ERRH, 1, (dvoid *) rset, 0, SQLT_RSET,
             (dvoid *) &(inds[1]), &(rlens[1]), &(rcode[1]),
             0, (ub4 *) 0, OCI_DEFAULT);

/* Execute statement to get next result set*/
OCIStmtExecute(SVCH, STMH, ERRH, 1, 0, (CONST OCISnapshot *) 0,
               (OCISnapshot *) 0, OCI_DEFAULT);

/* Convert next result set to statement handle */
OCIResultSetToStmt(rset, ERRH);
rstmt = (OCIStmt *) rset;

/* Now rstmt will point to the second result set returned by the
remote stored procedure */

/* Repeat execution of get_next_result_set to get the output arguments */
PL/SQL Program Fetching from Result Sets in Sequential Mode

Assume that the table loc_emp is a local table exactly like the Sybase emp table. The same assumption applies for loc_dept. outargs is a table with columns corresponding to the out arguments of the Sybase stored procedure.

create or replace package rcpackage is
  type RCTYPE is ref cursor;
end rcpackage;
  rc1 rcpackage.rctype;
  rec1 loc_emp%rowtype;
  rc2 rcpackage.rctype;
  rec2 loc_dept%rowtype;
  rc3 rcpackage.rctype;
  rec3 outargs%rowtype;
  out_arg varchar2(255);


  -- Execute procedure
  out_arg := null;  refcurproc@SYBS('Hello World', out_arg, rc1);

  -- Fetch 20 rows from the remote emp table and insert them into loc_emp
  for i in 1 .. 20 loop
    fetch rc1 into rec1;
    insert into loc_emp (rec1.empno, rec1.ename, rec1.job,
    rec1.mgr, rec1.hiredate, rec1.sal, rec1.comm, rec1.deptno);
  end loop;

  -- Close ref cursor
  close rc1;

  -- Get the next result set returned by the stored procedure
  rc2 := dbms_hs_result_set.get_next_result_set@SYBS;

  -- Fetch 5 rows from the remote dept table and insert them into loc_dept
  for i in 1 .. 5 loop
    fetch rc2 into rec2;
    insert into loc_dept values (rec2.deptno, rec2.dname, rec2.loc);
  end loop;

  --Close ref cursor
  close rc2;

  -- Get the output arguments from the remote stored procedure
  -- Since we are in sequential mode, they will be returned in the
  -- form of a result set
  rc3 := dbms_hs_result_set.get_next_result_set@SYBS;

  -- Fetch them and insert them into the outarguments table
  fetch rc3 into rec3;
  insert into outargs (rec3.outarg, rec3.retval);

  -- Close ref cursor
  close rc3;


CHAR Semantics

This feature allows the gateway to optionally run in CHAR Semantics mode. Rather than always describing Sybase CHAR columns as CHAR(n BYTE), this feature describes them as CHAR(n CHAR) and VARCHAR(n CHAR). The concept is similar to Oracle database CHAR Semantics. You need to specify HS_NLS_LENGTH_SEMANTICS=CHAR gateway parameter to activate this option. Refer to Initialization Parameters for more detail.

Multi-byte Character Sets Ratio Suppression

This feature optionally suppresses the ratio expansion from Sybase database to Oracle database involving multi-byte character set. By default, Oracle gateways assume the worst ratio to prevent data being truncated or insufficient buffer size situation. However, if you have specific knowledge of your Sybase database and do not want the expansion to occur, you can specify HS_KEEP_REMOTE_COLUMN_SIZE parameter to suppress the expansion. Refer to Initialization Parameters for more detail.

IPv6 Support

Besides full IPv6 support between Oracle databases and the gateway, IPv6 is also supported between this gateway and Sybase database. Refer to the HS_FDS_CONNECT_INFO parameter in Initialization Parameters for more detail.

Gateway Session IDLE Timeout

You can optionally choose to terminate long idle gateway sessions automatically with the gateway parameter HS_IDLE_TIMEOUT. Specifically, when a gateway session is idle for more than the specified time limit, the gateway session is terminated with any pending update rolled back.

Database Compatibility Issues for Sybase

Sybase and Oracle databases function differently in some areas, causing compatibility problems such as follows:

Chained Mode

The gateway supports the ANSI-standard chained mode. Sybase stored procedures must be written for this mode. Running in chained mode allows the gateway to extend the Oracle two-phase commit protection to transactions updating Oracle and Sybase databases.

Column Definitions

By default, a Sybase table column cannot contain null values unless NULL is specified in the column definition. In compliance with the ANSI standard, the Sybase database option "allow nulls by default" can be set to true to change the default column definition to NULL.

For an Oracle table, null values are allowed in a column unless NOT NULL is specified in the column definition.

Naming Rules

Naming rule issues include the following:

Rules for Naming Objects

Oracle and Sybase use different database object naming rules. For example, the maximum number of characters allowed for each object name can be different. Also, the use of single and double quotation marks, case sensitivity, and the use of alphanumeric characters can all be different.

See Also:

Oracle Database Reference and Sybase documentation.

Case Sensitivity

The Oracle database defaults to uppercase unless you surround identifiers with double quote characters. For example, to refer to the Sybase table called emp, enter the name with double quote characters, as follows:


However, to refer to the Sybase table called emp owned by SCOTT from an Oracle application, enter the following:

SQL> SELECT * FROM "Scott"."emp"@SYBS;

If the Sybase table called emp is owned by SCOTT, a table owner name in uppercase letters, you can enter the owner name without double quote characters, as follows:



SQL> SELECT * FROM scott."emp"@SYBS;

Oracle recommends that you surround all Sybase object names with double quote characters and use the exact letter case for the object names as they appear in the Sybase data dictionary. This convention is not required when referring to the supported Oracle data dictionary tables or views listed in Data Dictionary.

If existing applications cannot be changed according to these conventions, create views in Oracle to associate Sybase names to the correct letter case. For example, to refer to the Sybase table emp from an existing Oracle application by using only uppercase names, define the following view:

      AS SELECT "empno", "ename", "sal", "hiredate"
      FROM "emp"@SYBS;

With this view, the application can issue statements such as the following:


Using views is a workaround solution that duplicates data dictionary information originating in the Sybase data dictionary. You must be prepared to update the Oracle view definitions whenever the data definitions for the corresponding tables are changed in the Sybase database.

Data Types

Data type issues include the following:

Binary Literal Notation

Oracle SQL uses hexadecimal digits surrounded by single quotes to express literal values being compared or inserted into columns defined as data type RAW.

This notation is not converted to syntax compatible with the Sybase VARBINARY and BINARY data types (a 0x followed by hexadecimal digits, surrounded by single quotes).

For example, the following statement is not supported:


Where BINARY_TAB contains a column of data type VARBINARY or BINARY. Use bind variables when inserting into or updating VARBINARY and BINARY data types.

Data Type Conversion

Sybase does not support implicit date conversions. Such conversions must be explicit.

For example, the gateway issues an error for the following SELECT statement:


To avoid problems with implicit conversions, add explicit conversions, as in the following:


See Also:

Data Type Conversion for more information about restrictions on data types.


Query issues include the following:

Row Selection

Sybase evaluates a query condition for all selected rows before returning any of the rows. If there is an error in the evaluation process for one or more rows, no rows are returned even though the remaining rows satisfy the condition.

Oracle evaluates the query condition row-by-row and returns a row when the evaluation is successful. Rows are returned until a row fails the evaluation.

Empty Strings

Oracle processes an empty string in a SQL statement as a null value. Sybase processes an empty string as an empty string.

When comparing an empty string, the gateway passes literal empty strings to the Sybase database without any conversion. If you intended an empty string to represent a null value, Sybase does not process the statement that way; it uses the empty string.

You can avoid this problem by using NULL or IS NULL in the SQL statement instead of the empty string syntax, as in the following example:

SELECT * from "emp"@SYBS where "ename" IS NULL;

Selecting an empty string

For VARCHAR columns, the gateway returns an empty string to the Oracle database as NULL value.

For CHAR columns, the gateway returns the full size of the column with each character as empty space (' ').

Empty Bind Variables

For VARCHAR bind variables, the gateway passes empty bind variables to the Sybase database as a NULL value.


The locking model for a Sybase database differs significantly from the Oracle model. The gateway depends on the underlying Sybase behavior, so Oracle applications that access Sybase through the gateway can be affected by the following possible scenarios:

  • Read access might block write access

  • Write access might block read access

  • Statement-level read consistency is not guaranteed

    See Also:

    Sybase documentation for information about the Sybase locking model.

Sybase Identifiers Length Limit

By default, the gateway will always quote identifiers. However, certain Sybase releases have a limit of 30 characters for identifiers such as table or column names and quotes are considered part of the names when checking against this limit. Therefore, when quotes are used, you can only specify 28 characters. In order to support the maximum length limit in those Sybase releases, you need to specify HS_FDS_QUOTE_IDENTIFIER=FALSE in your gateway initialization parameter file. Setting this initialization parameter will cause the gateway to send identifiers without quotes. However, it has the side effect of precluding the use of identifiers that contain dots (.) or spaces, and the identifiers will follow the case sensitivity of the Sybase database being used.

Known Restrictions

If you encounter incompatibility problems not listed in this section or in "Known Problems", contact Oracle Support Services. The following section describes the known restrictions and includes suggestions for dealing with them when possible:

The following restriction also applies:

  • When negative numbers are used as the second parameter in a SUBSTR function, incorrect results are returned. This is due to incompatibility between the Oracle SUBSTR function and the equivalent in Sybase.


    If you have any questions or concerns about the restrictions, contact Oracle Support Services.

Transactional Integrity

The gateway cannot guarantee transactional integrity in the following cases:

  • When a statement that is processed by the gateway causes an implicit commit in the target database

  • When the target database is configured to work in autocommit mode


    Oracle strongly recommends the following:

    • If you know that executing a particular statement causes an implicit commit in the target database, then ensure that this statement is executed in its own transaction.

    • Do not configure the target database to work in autocommit mode.

Transaction Capability

The gateway does not support savepoints. If a distributed update transaction is under way involving the gateway and a user attempts to create a savepoint, the following error occurs:

ORA-02070: database dblink does not support savepoint in this context

By default, the gateway is configured as COMMIT_CONFIRM and it is always the commit point site when the Sybase database is updated by the transaction.

COMMIT or ROLLBACK in PL/SQL Cursor Loops Closes Open Cursors

Any COMMIT or ROLLBACK issued in a PL/SQL cursor loop closes all open cursors, which can result in the following error:

ORA-1002:  fetch out of sequence 

To prevent this error, move the COMMIT or ROLLBACK statement outside the cursor loop.

Stored Procedures

Changes issued through stored procedures that embed commits or rollbacks cannot be controlled by the Oracle transaction manager or Oracle COMMIT or ROLLBACK commands.

When accessing stored procedures with result sets through the Oracle Database Gateway for Sybase, you must work in the sequential mode of Heterogeneous Services.

When accessing stored procedures with multiple result sets through the Oracle Database Gateway for Sybase, you must read all the result sets before continuing.

Output parameters of stored procedures must be initialized to a NULL value.

Oracle Database Gateway for Sybase does not support output parameters or stored procedures with output parameters, inside a pass through query.

Pass-Through Feature

DDL statements executed by Sybase using the gateway pass-through feature might fail if they are in a multi-statement transaction. Set the Sybase option "ddl in tran" to allow DDL statements in a transaction.

Oracle recommends that you place a DDL statement in its own transaction when executing such a statement with the pass-through feature. An explicit COMMIT must be issued after the DDL statement.

If the SQL statements being passed through the gateway result in an implicit commit at the Sybase database, the Oracle transaction manager is unaware of the commit and an Oracle ROLLBACK command cannot be used to roll back the transaction.

Sybase NCHAR and NVARCHAR Data Types

The gateway cannot select a column defined with a Sybase NCHAR or NVARCHAR data type.

SQL Syntax

Restrictions on SQL syntax are listed as follows:

See Also:

Supported SQL Syntax and Functions for more information about restrictions on SQL syntax.


UPDATE and DELETE statements with the WHERE CURRENT OF clause are not supported by the gateway because they rely on the Oracle ROWID implementation. To update or delete a specific row through the gateway, a condition style WHERE clause must be used.


The gateway does not support the CONNECT BY clause in a SELECT statement.


The Oracle ROWID implementation is not supported.

Subqueries in INSERT Statement

Subqueries of INSERT statements cannot use multiple aliases for the same table. For example, the following statement is not supported:

SQL> INSERT INTO "emp_target"@SYBS
         SELECT a."empno" FROM "emp_source"@SYBS a,
            "emp_source"@SYBS b WHERE b."empno"=9999

The EXPLAIN PLAN statement is not supported.

SQL*Plus COPY Command with Lowercase Table Names

You need to use double quotes to wrap around lowercase table names.

For example:

copy from tkhouser/tkhouser@inst1 insert loc_tkhodept using select * from "tkhodept"@holink2;

Database Links

The gateway is not multithreaded and cannot support shared database links. Each gateway session spawns a separate gateway process and connections cannot be shared.

Known Problems

This section describes known problems and includes suggestions for correcting them when possible. If you have any questions or concerns about the problems, contact Oracle Support Services. A current list of problems is available online. Contact your local Oracle office for information about accessing the list.

The known problems are as follows:

Encrypted Format Login

Oracle database no longer supports the initialization parameter DBLINK_ENCRYPT_LOGIN. Up to version 7.3, this parameter's default TRUE value prevented the password for the login user ID from being sent over the network (in the clear). Later versions automatically encrypt the password.

Date Arithmetic

The following SQL expressions do not function correctly with the gateway:

date + numbernumber + datedate - numberdate1 - date2

Statements with the preceding expressions are sent to the Sybase database without any translation. Since Sybase does not support these date arithmetic functions, the statements return an error.

Sybase IMAGE and TEXT Data Type

The following restrictions apply when using IMAGE and TEXT data types:

  • An unsupported SQL function cannot be used in a SQL statement that accesses a column defined as Sybase data type IMAGE or TEXT.

  • You cannot use SQL*Plus to select data from a column defined as Sybase data type IMAGE or TEXT when the data is greater than 80 characters in length. Oracle recommends using Pro*C or Oracle Call Interface to access such data in a Sybase database.

  • IMAGE and TEXT data cannot be read through pass-through queries.

The gateway does not support the PL/SQL function COLUMN_VALUE_LONG of the DBMS_SQL package.

See Also:

Supported SQL Syntax and Functions for more information about restrictions on SQL syntax.

String Functions

If you concatenate numeric literals using the "||" operator when using the gateway to query a Sybase database, the result is an arithmetic addition. For example, the result of the following statement is 18:


The result is 99 when using Oracle to query an Oracle database.

Schema Names and PL/SQL

If you do not prefix a Sybase database object with its schema name in a SQL statement within a PL/SQL block, the following error message occurs:

ORA-6550 PLS-201 Identifier table_name must be declared.

Change the SQL statement to include the schema name of the object.

Data Dictionary Views and PL/SQL

You cannot refer to data dictionary views in SQL statements that are inside a PL/SQL block.

Stored Procedures

Return values of stored procedures that return result sets are incorrect.