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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What is going on with DATE and TIMESTAMP?

I have ran in to developers using java.sql.Date object in Oracle and wondering why the date object does not contain the time information. The short answer is java.sql.Date and you need to use the java.sql.TimeStamp object that contains both Date and timestamp information.

A detailed explanation of the issue can be found in the Oracle web site . I am copying the text here for a quick reference.

Prior to 9.2, the Oracle JDBC drivers mapped the DATE SQL type to java.sql.Timestamp. This made a certain amount of sense because the Oracle DATE SQL type contains both date and time information as does java.sql.Timestamp. The more obvious mapping to java.sql.Date was somewhat problematic as java.sql.Date does not include time information. It was also the case that the RDBMS did not support the TIMESTAMP SQL type, so there was no problem with mapping DATE to Timestamp.

In 9.2 TIMESTAMP support was added to the RDBMS. The difference between DATE and TIMESTAMP is that TIMESTAMP includes nanoseconds and DATE does not. So, beginning in 9.2, DATE is mapped to Date and TIMESTAMP is mapped to Timestamp. Unfortunately if you were relying on DATE values to contain time information, there is a problem.

There are several ways to address this problem:

Alter your tables to use TIMESTAMP instead of DATE. This is probably rarely possible, but it is the best solution when it is.

Alter your application to use defineColumnType to define the columns as TIMESTAMP rather than DATE. There are problems with this because you really don't want to use defineColumnType unless you have to (see What is defineColumnType and when should I use it?).

Alter you application to use getTimestamp rather than getObject. This is a good solution when possible, however many applications contain generic code that relies on getObject, so it isn't always possible.

Set the V8Compatible connection property. This tells the JDBC drivers to use the old mapping rather than the new one. You can set this flag either as a connection property or a system property. You set the connection property by adding it to the java.util.Properties object passed to DriverManager.getConnection or to OracleDataSource.setConnectionProperties. You set the system property by including a -D option in your java command line.

java -Doracle.jdbc.V8Compatible="true" MyApp

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