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Differences between User Defined Functions and Stored Procedures

First lets look at the two briefly and why they are useful.
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.

User Defined Functions or UDFs:
can contain single or multiple SQL statements depending on its type. A Scalar UDF and 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 Stored Procedure and User Defined Functions:

Stored Procedures:

- 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 table but won’t return Table Variables
- Can create and use Dynamic SQL.
- Can use transactions inside (BEGIN TRANSACTION, COMMIT, ROLLBACK) an SP.
- Can use used with XML FOR clause.
- Stored procedures can call a funtion or another stored procedure.
- Cannot be used to create constraints while creating a table.
- Can execute all kinds of functions, be it deterministic or non-deterministic.


- 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.
- Functions does not have pre compiled exuction plan
- A function can call another function and a stored proc excluding user defined stored procedures which means can call only extended/system defined stored procedures.
- Can be used to create Constraints while creating a table.
- Cannot execute some non-deterministic built-in functions, like GETDATE().

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