Before we dive into the new capabilities, let's briefly review what triggers are. Triggers are event-driven specialized procedures that are stored in, and executed by, the DBMS. Each trigger is attached to a single, specified table. Triggers can be thought of as an advanced form of "rule" or "constraint" written using procedural logic. A trigger can not be directly called or executed; it is automatically executed (or "fired") by the DBMS as the result of a modification being made to the associated table. Once a trigger is created it is always executed when its "firing" event occurs (update, insert, delete, etc.). Triggers are generally used to promote data integrity and make the database self-maintaining.
So far, so good. But what does DB2 12 provide us that we did not have in prior releases?
Well, now we have a new type of trigger called an advanced trigger. All this really means is that the trigger supports new capabilities that I will outline momentarily. Triggers created before you have moved to function level 500 (this is new terminology for DB2 12 that roughly equate to NFM in earlier releases) will be referred to as basic triggers.
So what makes a trigger advanced? Simply put, support for additional development and usability capabilities. The following features are supported only with advanced triggers:
- You can define and reference SQL variables in the trigger
- More types of SQL statements can be used, including dynamic SQL statements
- SQL PL control statements can be used in the trigger
- It is possible to reference global variables, and to assign values to global variables
- Finally, you can explicitly specify options, including BIND options
- Comments are supported in SQL statements
- You can include definitions for multiple versions of the trigger
These are all good things. But there are some additional changes that you need to be aware of with advanced triggers. All transition variables are nullable in advanced triggers. And debugging options are available. Perhaps the most significant change though is the support for a more robust ALTER TRIGGER statement that can be used to change trigger options or regenerate the trigger body. Only a very rudimentary ALTER capability is available for basic triggers.
Another nice capability for advanced triggers it that CREATE TRIGGER now provides the OR REPLACE clause. This lets the developer use one CREATE statement to define a trigger or update an existing trigger depending on whether the trigger already exists. The OR
REPLACE option can also be used with a CREATE TRIGGER statement to define a
new version of a trigger, or to replace an existing version of a trigger.
A nice chart of the behavioral differences between basic and advanced triggers can be found here, if you are interested in additional details.
The bottom line is that for shop's that rely on triggers, or that are looking to use more triggers, the set of new functionality offered in DB2 12 for z/OS greatly expands the usefulness and usability for triggers.