Altering Oracle’s SQL*Plus Help Facility

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.

James Koopmann
James Koopmann has fourteen years of database design, development and performance tuning experience. In addition, he has extensive database administration experience in Oracle and other relational databases in production environments, specializing in performance tuning of database engines and SQL based applications. Koopmann is an accomplished author with several technical papers in various Oracle related publications such as Oracle Magazine, Oracle Professional and SQL>UPDATE_RMOUG. He is a featured author and database expert for DatabaseJournal, a member of the editorial review committee for Select Journal (The Magazine for the International Oracle Users Group), an Oracle Certified Professional DBA and noted speaker at local Oracle User Groups around the country.

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