You can use traditional datatypes, such as those described in Chapter 4, to represent only a small portion of the information that your organization needs to store and manage. Oracle provides several additional datatypes that are specifically designed to provide optimal storage, performance, and flexibility for specific types of data.
Real-world information used in business, such as purchase orders, claims forms, shipping forms, and so on, may sometimes be best represented as object types, which are more complex than the simple atomic datatypes discussed in Chapter 4. Data that includes a timestamp may be better manipulated as a time series. Location-oriented data may best be represented using spatial coordinates. Documents, images, video clips, and audio clips have their own special requirements for storage and retrieval.
Oracle has extended the functionality of its basic relational database engine to support the storage and manipulation of nontraditional datatypes through the introduction of additional features and options—mainly through the Oracle8i Objects and Extensibility features. Oracle has also extended the types of data, the SQL that manipulates it, and the basic Oracle service framework so that you can modify the data and extend its capabilities even further.
An object-oriented approach to software development shifts the focus from building computing procedures that operate on sets of data to modeling business ...