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Life After Coffee How to Create Auto Increment Columns in Oracle http://www.lifeaftercoffee.com/2006/02/17/how-to-create-auto-increment...

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Life After Coffee


because I dont believe in life before coffee

How to Create Auto Increment Columns in Oracle


Categories: Database Administration, Information Technology, Oracle
Posted on Friday, February 17, 2006 by Jon Emmons
[55] Comments

After pointing out how not to create auto increment columns in Oracle, I suppose I should point out how to create
auto increment columns in oracle.

Many will gripe about this not being a standard feature in Oracle, but when its as easy as two more commands
after your CREATE TABLE command I cant see any good reason to use fancy SQL on every insert.

First lets create a simple table to play with.


SQL> CREATE TABLE test
(id NUMBER PRIMARY KEY,
name VARCHAR2(30));

Table created.

Now well assume we want ID to be an auto increment field. First we need a sequence to grab values from.
SQL> CREATE SEQUENCE test_sequence
START WITH 1
INCREMENT BY 1;

Sequence created.

Now we can use that sequence in an BEFORE INSERT trigger on the table.
CREATE OR REPLACE TRIGGER test_trigger
BEFORE INSERT
ON test
REFERENCING NEW AS NEW
FOR EACH ROW
BEGIN
SELECT test_sequence.nextval INTO :NEW.ID FROM dual;
END;
/

Trigger created.

1 of 16 6/9/2010 2:25 PM
Life After Coffee How to Create Auto Increment Columns in Oracle http://www.lifeaftercoffee.com/2006/02/17/how-to-create-auto-increment...

This trigger will automatically grab the next value from the sequence we just created and substitute it
into the ID column before the insert is completed.
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SQL> INSERT INTO test (name) VALUES ('Matt');

1 row created.

SQL> SELECT * FROM test;

ID NAME
---------- ------------------------------
1 Jon
2 Bork
3 Matt

Because the sequence is updated independent of the rows being committed there will be no conflict if multiple users are
inserting into the same table simultaneously.

If you need to capture the value of the auto increment column youll want to check out my other article Oracle Auto
increment Columns Part 2

Matt has posted a similar method in which he uses a sequence in the insert eliminating the need for the trigger. That will
work just as well without the need for the trigger. The only drawback to this method is slightly longer SQL commands.

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55 Responses to How to Create Auto Increment Columns in Oracle


1. Life After Coffee How Not to Create Auto Increment Columns in Oracle Says:
February 20th, 2006 at 10:04 am

[...] This article is about how not to create auto increment columns. If youre looking for a more acceptable way, youll
want to check out this article. [...]

2. Fabio Xodo Says:


March 2nd, 2006 at 4:55 am

There is an issue caused by using directly the increment of a sequence in an insert statement

insert into table (id) values (seq.nextval)

is okay, but will not make inserts work in the table in some case.
For example, I had to use and MS Access interface to insert rows in an oracle db. Using the statement above will not
work.

Youll have to use the trigger one behaivor, demanding the sequence increment directy to the oracle server.

2 of 16 6/9/2010 2:25 PM
Life After Coffee How to Create Auto Increment Columns in Oracle http://www.lifeaftercoffee.com/2006/02/17/how-to-create-auto-increment...

Hope this helps

3. Tony Jackson Says:


March 21st, 2006 at 8:50 pm

1. Works great, thanks for posting this.


2. These two lines were not needed:

DECLARE
seqNo NUMBER;

I removed them and the trigger still works correctly.

Please let me know if they are really needed (ie, is this going to bite me later?)

3. I dont understand the line:


REFERENCING NEW AS NEW OLD AS OLD

so if you have any explanation, I would be greatful.

Thanks again,
Tony Jackson
atjsfo@hotmail.com

4. Jon Says:
March 21st, 2006 at 9:18 pm

Tony, glad this helped you.

The DECLARE portion must be left from some previous revision of some other trigger. Its not necessary and I will be
removing it form the code above. Thanks for pointing this out.

The REFERENCING NEW AS NEW OLD AS OLD gives you the :NEW and :OLD objects so you can refer to
columns as :NEW.id or :NEW.name. If its an insert there is really just a :NEW, but for an update you would have the
new values in :NEW and the old values in :OLD.

Hope that all makes sense. Let me know if youre looking for more.

5. Jon Says:
March 21st, 2006 at 10:00 pm

Update: Thanks to Tony for pointing out a couple things that could be tightened up.

I left out the OLD AS OLD since there is no OLD data on inserts. The NEW AS NEW could also be excluded, but its
nice to be explicit here. I also took out the DECLARE line where I declared a variable I never used.

6. Narender Says:
March 22nd, 2006 at 4:49 am

thank u very much for giving to this information.

7. Jon Says:
March 22nd, 2006 at 8:10 am

Youre welcome.

Glad I could help.

Jon

8. Daniel Says:

3 of 16 6/9/2010 2:25 PM
Life After Coffee How to Create Auto Increment Columns in Oracle http://www.lifeaftercoffee.com/2006/02/17/how-to-create-auto-increment...

May 5th, 2006 at 7:17 pm

Great post!

Sometimes I do this in PL/SQL:


nextID := test_sequence.nextval;
insert into test (ID,name) values (nextID,bzzt);
use nextID for other work

Id like to use your trigger solution, but was wondering about the best way to capture the most recent ID.

Any thoughts?

Thank you!

9. Shaun McDonald Says:


May 10th, 2006 at 6:12 am

Im doing a java program that interfaces with an oracle database and require to know how to get the id generated for
the last insert for use in later processing.

Any thoughts would be great.

Shaun

10. Megha Says:


May 12th, 2006 at 7:07 am

Thanks For this Post! this has made the oracle world easy!

11. Zach Says:


May 22nd, 2006 at 1:42 pm

Any clue how I can easily and reliably grab that id number in PHP? In PHP with MySQL I would use the function
mysql_insert_id() to grab it. However, there is obviously no direct equivelant in Oracle Im aware of. Thoughts?

12. Life After Coffee Oracle Auto increment Columns - Part 2 Says:
May 22nd, 2006 at 5:20 pm

[...] Three separate people have commented on my previous article on How to Create Auto Increment Columns in
Oracle asking how they can retrieve the value of an auto increment column for use later in their code. Well Daniel,
Shaun and Zach, heres the answer. [...]

13. D Lee Says:


May 26th, 2006 at 9:29 am

I copied your codes (create table, sequence and trigger). The first two (table and sequence) worked, but the creating of
trigger failed. The error message is trigger created with PL/SQL compilation error. And could insert any vales to
tables due to fault trigger. Any hints? By the way, I used MS_Query to execute those SQL statements.

14. Jon Says:


May 26th, 2006 at 10:31 am

D, what version of Oracle are you using? Im not familiar with MS_Query, but some apps dont like having a
semicolon at the end of a PL/SQL block (before the forward slash).

Try again and then run the command show errors and that should give you some better error messages. Good luck!

Jon

15. D Lee Says:

4 of 16 6/9/2010 2:25 PM
Life After Coffee How to Create Auto Increment Columns in Oracle http://www.lifeaftercoffee.com/2006/02/17/how-to-create-auto-increment...

May 26th, 2006 at 1:46 pm

Thanks for your reply.

The version of Oracle is 8.1

I tried to create the trigger without simicolon but it still doesnt work. I tried show errors, but was told Invalid SQL
statement. Because of that invalid trigger, I couldnt insert any information into the table. Any more hints? Thanks.

16. Jon Says:


May 26th, 2006 at 3:25 pm

Try it through SQL*Plus if possible. At least then the show errors command should work.

I would think this would work just fine in 8.1 but its been a while since I worked with anything prior to 9i.

Jon

17. Keyur Says:


June 6th, 2006 at 3:21 pm

Im getting the following error when I try the above trigger with my table.
java.sql.SQLException: ORA-04098: trigger CCTP_WDB.PROD_TRIGGER is invalid and failed re-validation

Prod_trigger is the name of my trigger. The rest is the same.


Im using JSP to run the query and to connect to the database. PLease help.

18. Jon Says:


June 6th, 2006 at 9:13 pm

Keyur,

Try running the trigger creation in SQLPlus or SQL Developer. If the trigger still gives that error type show errors
and you should get a more meaningful error message.

It sounds likely that the sequence didnt create properly.

Jon

19. michael Says:


June 19th, 2006 at 5:03 pm

Hey, thanks for the post. Im getting PLS-00049: bad bind variable NEW.ID when I run these create statements in
SQL*Plus.

Am using REFERENCING NEW AS NEW and SELECT INTO :NEW.ID FROM DUAL.

Any ideas? Thanks!


michael

20. michael Says:


June 19th, 2006 at 6:19 pm

Never mind. Dumb mistake. Its working fine.

21. Jon Says:


June 19th, 2006 at 6:51 pm

Glad you got it working! Thanks for letting me know.

Jon

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Life After Coffee How to Create Auto Increment Columns in Oracle http://www.lifeaftercoffee.com/2006/02/17/how-to-create-auto-increment...

22. Md Khaliq Says:


July 4th, 2006 at 8:28 am

This is very useful to the developers who need help .

23. Stuart Says:


July 17th, 2006 at 10:35 am

I had the same problem as Keyur. I was attempting to create my triggers using Squirrel (which I have to say is an
excellent program, but not particularly good for proceedures). I found that Squirrel couldnt interpret the commands,
and was therefore creating invalid triggers, and wouldnt tell me why. The Show errors command didnt work. So I
downloaded another excellent program called TOAD, which allowed me to create the triggers and get everything
working. It has an excellent interface with SQL window and proceedure window. It also has a wizard type feature
which helps you create triggers or a series of other statements if you are a novice or unsure of the syntax.

I thought other users/readers might find this information useful.

Stu

24. Jon Says:


July 17th, 2006 at 10:43 am

Stuart,

Glad TOAD worked for you. We used to use it heavily for development but have recently switched to Oracles SQL
Developer. Check it out. It has much of the functionality of TOAD with less clutter.

Thanks for sharing.

25. Michael Says:


July 21st, 2006 at 1:50 pm

Hi Jon, thank you for taking the time to address sequencing. I have a variation of the code above that Im trying to
write. It would dynamically identify the number by which I have to ALTER the incremental value of a SEQUENCER
in Oracle. My scenario is that we have an external batch load of data into the data warehouse that is not using the
sequencer.. The SEQ field is manually being set to begin at the max+1 of the value in the table. So every night I have
to reset the sequencer to be the max value of that same table to account for the recently added records.

So Ive got all the pieces I need, but when I put them together inside a stored procedure I get a syntax error with no
explanation. Heres the code. I must be missing something really simple that I hope you will see easily. If you have a
moment, Id appreciate your insight. Thanks. Mike

/* I just keep this code here for safe keeping ignore for now
create table MGA_AUDIT_SEQ (
MGA_POLICY_MAXVAL NUMBER
, MAX_POL_SEQ_NEXTVAL NUMBER THIS IS THE VALUE IN CACHE FOR THE SEQUENCER
, SEQ_DIFF NUMBER THIS IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE 2 ABOVE VALUES
, LOAD_DATE VARCHAR2(10) JUST SYSDATE IN MM/DD/YYYY FORMAT
);
COMMIT;
*/

create or replace procedure sp_alter_mga_pol_seq


is
newseq number;
nextseq number;
mgapolval number;
begin

SELECT MAX(SEQ_ID) INTO MGAPOLVAL from mga_policy;

6 of 16 6/9/2010 2:25 PM
Life After Coffee How to Create Auto Increment Columns in Oracle http://www.lifeaftercoffee.com/2006/02/17/how-to-create-auto-increment...

SELECT MGA_POL_SEQ.NEXTVAL INTO NEXTSEQ FROM DUAL;


INSERT INTO MGA_AUDIT_SEQ
VALUES (MGAPOLVAL,
NEXTSEQ,
NEXTSEQ-MGAPOLVAL,
TO_CHAR(SYSDATE, MM/DD/YYYY));

SEQ_DIFF is a value I have determined in the temp table I


created above

select mga_pol_seq.currval + seq_diff +1


into newseq
from dual, mga_audit_seq;

set the sequencer to NOCACHE

ALTER SEQUENCE MGA_POL_SEQ


NOCACHE;
COMMIT;

reset the sequencing number to a new number


which is now set in the variable NEWSEQ

ALTER SEQUENCE MGA_POL_SEQ


INCREMENT BY newseq ;
COMMIT;

HAVE TO CALL THIS HERE IN ORDER TO MAKE THE CHANGE AFFECTIVE

select mga_pol_seq.nextval from dual;

bring the sequencer parameters back to their original state

ALTER SEQUENCE MGA_POL_SEQ


CACHE 20
nominvalue
increment by 1 ;
COMMIT;
end;

26. David O'Reilly Says:


July 24th, 2006 at 6:22 am

Hey there

GREAT SITE! Im moving over from MySQL so this site is extremely helpful for me.

Just one question, I was thinking of creating a sequence that I could use on lots of other tables, so say:

CREATE SEQUENCE auto_increment


START WITH 1
INCREMENT BY 1;

Then later for all my tables I would just use that sequence called auto_increment, however my question is as follows:

Would using the same sequence for all my other tables that need to be incremented be effected by other uses of it. As
in say another table was using that sequence, would it effect my current table who is also using that same sequence? or
would it be best to create a special sequence for every table that needs one.

Thanks

7 of 16 6/9/2010 2:25 PM
Life After Coffee How to Create Auto Increment Columns in Oracle http://www.lifeaftercoffee.com/2006/02/17/how-to-create-auto-increment...

Dave

27. David O'Reilly Says:


July 24th, 2006 at 6:38 am

Hopefully you might know what has happened to me here, I am getting a compilation error:

I created a table, created a sequence and then created the trigger in exactly the same way as your site describes, but it
failed with the following errors:

Warning: Trigger created with compilation errors.

so I ran:

SQL> show errors trigger trig_users_auto_increment


Errors for TRIGGER TRIG_USERS_AUTO_INCREMENT:

LINE/COL ERROR

2/46 PLS-00049: bad bind variable NEW.ID

Any ideas why it doesnt like the variable new?

Here is a history of what I created:

CREATE TABLE users (


userID NUMBER PRIMARY KEY,
email VARCHAR2(100),
fname VARCHAR2(50),
sname VARCHAR2(50)
)

AUTO_INCREMENT

CREATE SEQUENCE seq_users_auto_increment


START WITH 1
INCREMENT BY 1;

trigger

CREATE OR REPLACE TRIGGER trig_users_auto_increment


BEFORE INSERT
ON users
REFERENCING NEW AS NEW
FOR EACH ROW
BEGIN
SELECT seq_users_auto_increment.nextval INTO :NEW.ID FROM dual;
END;

Thanks in advance for your help!!!!


Hugs
David
Dublin Ireland

28. David O'Reilly Says:


July 24th, 2006 at 6:40 am

ops I had a blonde moment! the reason it didnt work was ID was not in my users table, it is userID not ID

8 of 16 6/9/2010 2:25 PM
Life After Coffee How to Create Auto Increment Columns in Oracle http://www.lifeaftercoffee.com/2006/02/17/how-to-create-auto-increment...

Well I hope I helped something out there who may have had that highlighted moment

29. Jon Says:


July 24th, 2006 at 8:59 pm

Michael,

You should try running this in SQL*Plus and after you get procedure
compiled with compilation errors or an error like this (Im guessing
thats what youre getting) type show
errors.

That should give you a more useful ORA- error. Im guessing the
problem youre having is with the ALTER SEQUENCE command.
That is DDL (data description language), language that defines or
changes the objects and structures in the database. PL/SQL has
trouble with DDL and most ALTER, DROP and
CREATE commands will result in an error when they are in
PL/SQL blocks.

You might need to use an EXECUTE IMMEDIATE command to make


this happen.

Hope this helps!

30. Life After Coffee Happy Birthday Life After Coffee! Says:
August 2nd, 2006 at 3:04 pm

[...] How to Create Auto Increment Columns in Oracle [...]

31. Stephane Says:


August 4th, 2006 at 7:51 pm

Thank you very much for this clarification. It has been of great help. There is none the less one thing that I do not
understand (althought your code works perfectly in my DB) is the DUAL keyword. What is its purpose?

Thank you very much.

32. Life After Coffee 2006 August 16 Says:


August 16th, 2006 at 11:55 am

[...] How to Create Auto Increment Columns in Oracle (178) [...]

33. Michael Knowles Says:


August 23rd, 2006 at 9:49 am

http://www.adp-gmbh.ch/ora/misc/dual.html

Found this explanation of dual.

dual is a table which is created by oracle along with the data dictionary. It consists of exactly one column whose name
is dummy and one record. The value of that record is X.
rene@ora92> desc dual
Name Null? Type
-
DUMMY VARCHAR2(1)

rene@ora92> select * from dual;

D
-

9 of 16 6/9/2010 2:25 PM
Life After Coffee How to Create Auto Increment Columns in Oracle http://www.lifeaftercoffee.com/2006/02/17/how-to-create-auto-increment...

X
The owner of dual is SYS but dual can be accessed by every user. As dual contains exactly one row (unless someone
fiddled with it), it is guaranteed to return exactly one row in select statements if a constant expression is selected
against dual, such as in:
select sysdate from dual
Although it is possible to delete the one record, or inse

34. Nadeem Says:


August 28th, 2006 at 8:06 am

Hi,

Do you think there will be any issues with using a sequence and triggers in an OLTP as there involves a context switch
when executing a trigger in the database?. In my approach I use my ORM layer (TROQUE) to generate the id, and it
has served me well.

thanks

35. Jon Says:


August 29th, 2006 at 8:46 pm

Nadeem,

There should not be an issue if a sequence is used. If you grab nextval from a sequence and some one else grabs one
even before you have committed your changes they will receive the next number in the sequence. Even if you do not
use the value you retrieve from the sequence it is yours forever.

Im not familiar with TROQUE, but if youre worried you should probably ask their support about this?

Hope this helps!

36. Cirne.org Como inserir um registo com auto increment id Says:


October 14th, 2006 at 7:34 am

[...] Graas ao Life After Coffee por este post jeitoso [...]

37. Sam Stephens Says:


October 25th, 2006 at 12:45 am

The trigger method guarantees that you can never have a duplicate primary key.

Using the sequence in the insert statement method works, until someone does an insert without using the sequence.
Lets say you have one row in your table, with ID = 1. Someone decides they need to have a record with ID = 10, and
so they insert using insert into table (id) values (10). You now have a ticking timebomb the sequence will
continue to increment 2, 3 etc, until it reaches 10 at which time the insert fails with
ERROR at line 1:
ORA-00001: unique constraint (SYS.SYS_C002948) violated
However using the trigger method, if someone tries to specify an explicit ID value, the trigger will overwrite the
specified value with the value from the sequence.
I guess there is some performance gain from not using the trigger, so if you trust all the code that accesses your
database and performance is critical, the sequence in the insert statement method may be what you need. Otherwise,
the trigger method is safest, and also means you can be lazy when inserting.

38. Jon Emmons Says:


October 25th, 2006 at 8:11 am

All good points Sam. From a data architecture standpoint my tendency is to not trust the developers, especially in big
organizations. Either is valid, just one tends to be riskier than the other.

39. syam sundar.Kota Says:


November 6th, 2006 at 2:07 am

10 of 16 6/9/2010 2:25 PM
Life After Coffee How to Create Auto Increment Columns in Oracle http://www.lifeaftercoffee.com/2006/02/17/how-to-create-auto-increment...

Hi,
let me know how can get the sum of first and second sal ,second and third sal ,third and fourth sal and so on.. from
emp table.please give me the SQL statement for this query

40. neethu Says:


January 18th, 2007 at 7:34 am

gr8..itz wrking properly

41. rod Says:


August 30th, 2007 at 11:36 pm

Many will gripe about this not being a standard feature in Oracle

I am reading this when I should be onto my next task.


GRIPEGRIPEGRIPE

42. Srinivas Paila Says:


December 4th, 2007 at 11:03 am

Hello Jon, Greetings!!! Great post.. This really helped me to resolve one of my critical requirements Thank
you so much Cheers @Srinivas

43. Alexander Hartmaier Says:


January 30th, 2008 at 12:12 pm

Id recommend to define the trigger as:

CREATE OR REPLACE TRIGGER trig_test


BEFORE INSERT ON test
FOR EACH ROW
WHEN(new.id IS NULL)
BEGIN
SELECT seq_test.nextval INTO :new.id FROM dual;
END;

This way you are able to specify the primary key (column id in my example) if you need to.

44. Mohammed Says:


March 10th, 2008 at 8:10 am

Hi,

I am using sage crm in the frontend and oracle in the backend, we are using sage crm to log cases from the customer,
whenever a new case is created, a ref id is generated by using the procedure and this works fine.

The problem occurs only when i create a new case and cancel it, ie; i am not saving the case, but when i create a new
case again, i get a new ref id instead of previous ref id. This is destroying my report.

If i create a new case and cancel it then my ref id should be free and must be fetched for the next new case, how can i
resolve this problem.

help greatly appriciated

TIA
Mohammed.

45. Neil Emms Says:


April 18th, 2008 at 8:38 am

11 of 16 6/9/2010 2:25 PM
Life After Coffee How to Create Auto Increment Columns in Oracle http://www.lifeaftercoffee.com/2006/02/17/how-to-create-auto-increment...

Just a minor suggestion. This does not work the same as the MySQL solution (which allows you to specify a value for
ID if you want to), as the trigger will always add the value from the sequence.

If you wish to replicate that behaviour just change the line:

SELECT test_sequence.nextval INTO :NEW.ID FROM dual;

to be:

IF :NEW.ID is NULL THEN


SELECT test_sequence.nextval INTO :NEW.ID FROM dual;
END IF;

This will now only use the sequence if no value is passed in for ID.

46. Kalpesh Suryawanshi Says:


August 8th, 2008 at 5:46 am

Hey, this article is really helpful.

47. S.Anugraha Says:


August 25th, 2008 at 4:49 am

hey,wot do i do, if i need to generate a number sequence with character prefixes,say I need to auto increment the
column Product_id for every product inserted??

48. Jon Emmons Says:


August 25th, 2008 at 10:08 pm

S.

If you want to have the same character appear before each sequence number all you need to do is concatenate the
letter in the trigger like this:

SELECT A || test_sequence.nextval INTO :NEW.ID FROM dual;

If youre looking to increment the leading letter youre going to have to get a bit trickier. Maybe others will have ideas,
but something like a switch may be in order.

Hope this helps.

49. Vara Prasad Says:


February 16th, 2009 at 11:21 pm

good idea. Thank u.

50. keepitmassive Says:


March 9th, 2009 at 4:47 am

Thanks for a great article, that helped me a lot!

51. DebiPrasad Says:


April 29th, 2009 at 3:09 pm

in the trigger code whats the meaning of that dual word

52. mona Says:


June 4th, 2009 at 1:50 pm

this code works perfectly right up until i delete a row from the table and start adding new rows.. the sequence starts
jumping numbers.. help! any suggestions would be appreciated!

12 of 16 6/9/2010 2:25 PM
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53. rainer Says:


September 30th, 2009 at 10:42 am

this code is just ive searched for, thanks.


I need help in getting the generated value using java:

CREATE TABLE person (ID NUMBER(11) NOT NULL, givenName NVARCHAR2(60) default A default value
NOT NULL, surName NVARCHAR2(60) NOT NULL, CONSTRAINT person_pk PRIMARY KEY ( ID ) )
ORGANIZATION INDEX;

String sql = "insert into person (givenName,surName) values (?,?)";


PreparedStatement st = conn.prepareStatement(sql,Statement.RETURN_GENERATED_KEYS);
st.setString(1,"me");
st.setString(2,"fromMars");
st.executeUpdate();
ResultSet rs = st.getGeneratedKeys();
if (rs.next()) {
Object obj = rs.getObject();
}

The returned Object is a ROWID, and im not able to get the ID for the inserted row.

54. rainer Says:


October 1st, 2009 at 8:19 am

found a working solution:


String generatedColumns[] = {"ID"};
PreparedStatement st = conn.prepareStatement(sql, generatedColumns);


if (st.executeUpdate() != 0)
{
ResultSet rs = st.getGeneratedKeys();
if (rs.next())
int idValue = rs.getInt(1);
}

55. Phil Says:


October 1st, 2009 at 3:16 pm

This is fantastic. Thanks for making it so simple!

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