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In Oracle 18.104.22.168 (and 10.2.0.5) a new feature has been added to external tables that allows users to preprocess input data before it is sent to the access driver. The ability to manipulate input data with a preprocessor program results in additional loadable data formats, which greatly enhances the flexibility and processing power of external tables. The types of preprocessor programs that can be used are versatile, ranging from system commands, user-generated binaries (for example, a C program), or user-supplied shell scripts. Because the user supplies the program to preprocess the data, it can be tailored to meet the user's specific needs. This means that the number of loadable formats is restricted only by the ability to manipulate the original data set.
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