Crazy Idea

Jdbc : Why doesn’t Oracle’s driver support READ_UNCOMMITTED ?
September 7, 2007, 6:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

hi lazy Web,

I tried to change the Transaction Isolation level to see what my unit test(spring/hibernate/dbUnit) was doing.

Connection conn = java.sql.DriverManager.getConnection(url, user, password);
if (null != conn) {
System.out.printf(“%s%n”, conn.getTransactionIsolation());

and got the following exception

Exception in thread “main” java.sql.SQLException: READ_COMMITTED and SERIALIZABLE are the only valid transaction levels
at oracle.jdbc.driver.DatabaseError.throwSqlException(
at oracle.jdbc.driver.DatabaseError.throwSqlException(
at oracle.jdbc.driver.DatabaseError.throwSqlException(
at oracle.jdbc.driver.PhysicalConnection.setTransactionIsolation(
at JdbcTest.main(

So, why doesn’t Oracle JDBC driver let me do dirty reads ?

Does anyone out there know of a tool (java or otherwise) that can let me do this ? I have TOAD : does TOAD support a way to do this ? How about ruby/Python tools ? I’m on windows XP. So, it would help me if you could refer  me to windows specific OR cross-platform tools.

Thank you for any pointers,

15 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Because transaction isolation levels READ_UNCOMMITTED and REPEATABLE_READ don’t exist in Oracle databases by design.

Comment by Morgan

Hi Morgan,

Thank you.

Guess it’s time to refresh my Oracle fundas by reading the WROX PRESS “EXPERT ONE-ON-ONE ORACLE”. I’m sure Tom would give me a hint as to why they do it.

Do, do other DBs(like MS-SQL, MySQL, DB2) allow Dirty Reads ? How about Java DB, HSQL, etc ?

Thanks again,


Comment by anjanb

Databases that use Multiversion concurrency control (oracle, postgresql, mysql&innodb, firebird etc) don’t need dirty reads. A dirty read is useful if you want to do a non blocking read, but Multiversion Concurrency Control (MVCC) database have a different solution. Instead of reading uncommitted data, a previous committed version of a record is used (hence the name multiversion). This approach is much saver because you can’t read uncommitted data (so data that never made it into the db) or data that is not valid (data could be written before its constraints are checked).

That is why a READ_UNCOMMITTED isolation level is ugraded to READ_COMMITTED.

A similar explanation can be used for REPEATABLE_READS. The SERIALIZED isolation level also prevents unrepeatable reads from happening and the serialized isolation level is quite easily realized in oracle (also based on the multiversion mechanism and optimistic locking at the end of serialized transaction commit). That is why REPEATABLE_READ is automatically upgraded to SERIALIZED.

Comment by peter veentjer

For your convenience, Tom’s answer can be found on his site.

Comment by Dr. Java

My understanding is that Oracle just cannot do the READ_UNCOMMITTED because it uses versioned snapshots. Once you started reading, you read the same data from the snapshot which is detached from the “current” state of the table. This approach to concurrency makes READ_UNCOMMITTED simply impossible.

Comment by Slava Imeshev

answering the tool part of the question myself.

datastorm is a tool :
that will launch a SWT app with the same connection used for the unit test.

this tool lets the unit tester to go into the GUI and then run queries for all you want. That will make unit testing a lot more easier for those difficult cases.

It might NOT even be a bad idea to have the setup() method launch the datastorm tool by default — just in case it is needed. Anyhow, most of the time, connection is obtained once per test case.

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