How to limit number of rows returned from Oracle at the JDBC data source level?

Is there a way to limit the rows returned at the Oracle datasource level in a Tomcat application?

It seems maxRows is only available if you set it on the datasource in the Java code. Putting maxRows="2" on the datasource doesn't apply.

Is there any other way limit the rows returned? Without a code change?


It isn't something that is available at the configuration level. You may want to double check that it does what you want it to do anyway: see the javadoc for setMaxRows. With Oracle it is still going to fetch every row back for the query and then just drop the ones outside the range. You would really need to use rownum to make it work well with Oracle and you can't do that either in the configuration.

The question is why do you want to limit the number of rows returned. There could be many reasons to do this. The first would be to just limit the data returned by the database. In my opinion this makes no sense in most cases as if I would like to get certain data only then I would use a different statement or add a filter condition or something. E.g. if you use rownum of Oracle you don't exactly know which data is in the rows you get and which data is not included as you just tell the database that you want row x to y. The second approach is to limit memory usage and increase performance so that the ResultSet you get from the JDBC driver will not include all data. You can limit the number of rows hold by the ResultSet using Statement.setFetchSize(). If you move the cursor in the ResultSet beyond the number of rows fetched the JDBC driver will fetch the missing data from the database. (In case of Oracle the database will store the data in a ref cursor which is directly accessed by the JDBC driver).

*Beware: the code below is provided as pure example. It has not been tested * It thus may harm yourself or your computer or even punch you in the face.

If you want to avoid modifying your SQL queries but still want to have clean code (which means that your code stay maintainable), you may design the solution using wrappers. That is, by using a small set of classes wrapping existing ones, you may achieve what you want seamlessly for the rest of the application which will still think it is working with real DataSource, Connection and Statement.

1 - implement a StatementWrapper or PreparedStatementWrapper class, depending what your application already uses. Those classes are wrappers around normal Statement or PreparedStatement instances. They are implemented simply as using the inner statement as a delegate which does all the work, except when this is a QUERY statement (Statement.executeQuery() method). Only in that precise situation, the wrapper surrounds the query by the two following strings : "SELECT * FROM (" and ") WHERE ROWNUM < "+maxRowLimit. For basic code wrapper code, see how it looks for the DataSourceWrapper below.

2 - write one more wrapper : ConnectionWrapper which wraps a Connection which returns StatementWrapper in createStatement() and PreparedStatementWrapper in prepareStatement(). Those are the previously coded classes taking ConnectionWrapper's delegateConnection.createStatement()/prepareStatement() as construction arguments.

3 - repeat the step with a DataSourceWrapper. Here is a simple code example.

public class DataSourceWrapper implements DataSource
    private DataSource mDelegate;

    public DataSourceWrapper( DataSource delegate )
        if( delegate == null ) { throw new NullPointerException( "Delegate cannot be null" );
        mDelegate = delegate;

    public Connection getConnection(String username, String password)
        return new ConnectionWrapper( mDelegate.getConnection( username, password ) );

    public Connection getConnection()
        ... <same as getConnection(String, String)> ...

4 - Finally, use that DataSourceWrapper as your application's DataSource. If you're using JNDI (NamingContext), this change should be trivial.

Coding all this is quick and very straightforward, especially if you're using smart IDE like Eclipse or IntelliJ which will implement the delegating methods automagically.

If you know you will be dealing with only one table, then define a view with rownum in the where statement to limit the number of rows. In this way, the number of rows is controlled at the DB and does not need to be specified as part of any query from a client application. If you want to change the number of rows returned, then redefine the view prior to executing query.

A more dynamic method would be to develop a procedure and pass in a number of rows, and have the procedure return a ref_cursor to your client. This would have the advantage of avoiding hard parsing on the DB, and increase performance.

Ok, a code change it'll have to be then.

The scenario is limiting an adhoc reporting tool so that the end user doesnt pull back too many records and generate a report which is unusable.

We already use oracle cost based resource management.

Take a look at this page with a description of limiting how much is sucked into the Java App at a time. As another post points out, the DB will still pull all of the data, this is more for controlling network use, and memory on the Java side.

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