Hints & Tips Archive

These entries were posted to the Extra Connections Ltd website on the subject of “Hints & Tips”.

Read Access to Package Bodies

I’ve recently been asked to grant a user permission to read a package body owned by another user. It’s surprisingly difficult to do.

There’s no object privilege that you can grant that will do this, instead you have to grant read access on DBA_SOURCE to the┬ásecond user for them to see the first user’s source code. One problem with this is that you’ll grant them the right to read everybody’s code. If this is an issue (and it may well be) you’ll have to create a view which limits the rows that can be returned:

CREATE VIEW some_source AS 
FROM   sys.dba_source 
WHERE  owner = 'X' 
AND    name = 'Y'

Remember to follow my earlier tip with regard to granting permissions if you take this approach.

If you’re happy to grant the straight DBA view to the other user, and they want to view the package source using TOAD, there’s a bit more to do. Firstly, they’ll need access to DBA_OBJECTS as well. Secondly, they’ll need to tweak their TOAD setup as follows:

  1. Select View/Options from the menu.
  2. Select “StartUp” from the tree view on the left.
  3. Tick the “Check for access to DBA views” checkbox.

Next time they log on they’ll be able to see package bodies.

Incidentally, there’s an important moral to this story: Comment your packages in the specification, not the body (well, OK, you should comment the body too). Most of the time you won’t want to do the above hacking, so people need to be able to work out what a packaged program unit does from looking at the part of the package they can see!

Fun with Oracle Permissions

Here’s an unexpected piece of Oracle behaviour that had me tearing my hair out last night until I figured out what was going on. It’s to do with object permissions as applied to views.

Suppose you have an oracle user called TABLE_OWNER who grants select access on his table to a role which all users have. One of those user, let’s call him VIEW_OWNER, creates a view based on that table and also grants select access on it to everybody.

Now, what happens when a third user attempts to select from the view? They get an “ORA-1031: Insufficient Privileges” error. Remember, they have select permission on both the view and the underlying table, so what’s happening?

The answer is that it’s Oracle security going a bit overboard. VIEW_OWNER has permission to see TABLE_OWNER’s table, but by creating a view of it and granting other users permission to view it, he’s effectively granting them select permission on the table. You need permission to do that, and VIEW_OWNER doesn’t have it. Curiously, this check is made when others try to select the view, rather than when the grant is made.

The solution is for TABLE_OWNER to do this:


That gives VIEW_OWNER permission to pass on the privilege, and thus other users permission to select from the view.