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Stored Procedures vs Functions (Difference between SP & UDF) – SQL Server

September 21, 2011 10 comments

Stored Procedures can contain a single SQL statement or a group of SQL statements with data flow control logic containing IF-ELSE, WHILE loop constructs, TRY-CATCH, transactions, etc.
SPs are used to return one or many result-sets to its calling application.

On the other hand Functions or UDFs can contain single or multiple SQL statements depending on its type. A Scalar UDF & Inline UDF can only have a single SELECT statement. And a Multi-Statement UDF can contain a body with multiple SQL statements including SELECTS, IF-ELSE, WHILE loops and DMLs but limited to manipulating table variables only.
UDFs return a single Scalar value or a Table variable to the calling SELECT statement.
 

Following are some common differences between an SP & a UDF:
 

–> Stored Procedures (SP):
– Can be used to read and modify data.
– To run an SP Execute or Exec is used, cannot be used with SELECT statement.
– Cannot JOIN a SP in a SELECT statement.
– Can use Table Variables as well as Temporary Tables inside an SP.
– Can create and use Dynamic SQL.
– Can use transactions inside (BEGIN TRANSACTION, COMMIT, ROLLBACK) an SP.
– Can use used with XML FOR clause.
– Can use a UDF inside a SP in SELECT statement.
– Cannot be used to create constraints while creating a table.
– Can execute all kinds of functions, be it deterministic or non-deterministic.
 

–> Functions (UDF):
– Can only read data, cannot modify the database.
– Can only be used with SELECT statement, JOINS & APPLY (CROSS & OUTER).
– Can JOIN a UDF in a SELECT statement.
– Cannot use a Temporary Table, only Table Variables can be used.
– Cannot use a Dynamic SQL inside a UDF.
– Cannot use transactions inside a UDF.
– Cannot be used with XML FOR clause.
– Cannot execute an SP inside a UDF.
– Can be used to create Constraints while creating a table.
– Cannot execute some non-deterministic built-in functions, like GETDATE().
 

More about “User Defined Functions” (UDFs) [check here].
 

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