Altering Oracle's SQL*Plus Help Facility

June 4, 2003

Everyone needs a little help now and then. If you have never used Oracle's help facility, venture with me and find new ways you can provide benefit to your users of SQL*Plus through this simple interface.

Invoking Help

The SQL*Plus facility has a very simple syntax.

HELP [topic]

In order to get the appropriate help information, you need only issue the HELP or '?' command on the command line within SQL*Plus, followed by the command or subject matter you need help on. If you do not know what you want or just want to see what is available, then for the subject matter supply the global 'TOPICS' or 'INDEX' keyword and get a listing of everything available for HELP.

SQL> HELP INDEX

Enter Help [topic] for help.

 @             COPY         PAUSE                    SHUTDOWN
 @@            DEFINE       PRINT                    SPOOL
 /             DEL          PROMPT                   SQLPLUS
 ACCEPT        DESCRIBE     QUIT                     START
 APPEND        DISCONNECT   RECOVER                  STARTUP
 ARCHIVE LOG   EDIT         REMARK                   STORE
 ATTRIBUTE     EXECUTE      REPFOOTER                TIMING
 BREAK         EXIT         REPHEADER                TTITLE
 BTITLE        GET          RESERVED WORDS (SQL)     UNDEFINE
 CHANGE        HELP         RESERVED WORDS (PL/SQL)  VARIABLE
 CLEAR         HOST         RUN                      WHENEVER OSERROR
 COLUMN        INPUT        SAVE                     WHENEVER SQLERROR
 COMPUTE       LIST         SET
 CONNECT       PASSWORD     SHOW

Not only can you supply a single topic for the HELP command, you may also supply an abbreviated topic. If the abbreviated topic also covers multiple topic areas, all of the topics will be reported. For example, if I supplied the topic 'H', under the base installation of HELP, I would get results for both HELP and HOST.

SQL> ? H

 HELP
 ----

 Accesses this command line help system. Enter HELP INDEX for a list
 of topics.
 In iSQL*Plus, click the Help button to display iSQL*Plus help.

 HELP [topic]


 HOST
 ----

 Executes a host operating system command without leaving
 SQL*Plus.

 HO[ST] [command]

 Not available in iSQL*Plus

Possible errors you may encounter are an indication of the HELP facility not being installed or an invalid topic.

SP2-0171 HELP not accessible
Cause: On-line SQL*Plus help is not installed in this Oracle instance.
Action: Contact the Database Administrator to install the on-line help.

SP2-0172 No HELP available
Cause: There is no help information available for the specified command.
Action: Enter HELP INDEX for a list of topics.







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