UDF vs Stored Procedure in SQL: Difference and Comparison

Today’s world demands us to be equipped with the ability to understand and use computers with ease. If we ponder upon it, we will realize that learning about it will do us more good than harm.

It is where the future lies, after all. To get into the nuances of this virtual world, we should familiarize ourselves with UDF and Stored Procedures in SQL.

Key Takeaways

  1. UDF stands for User-Defined Function and is used to return a value, while Stored Procedure is used to execute a set of statements.
  2. UDF can be used in a SELECT statement, while Stored Procedure cannot.
  3. UDF cannot perform transactions, while Stored Procedure can.

UDF vs Stored Procedure in SQL

UDFs are routines that accept one or more parameters and return a value, either scalar or table-valued. A stored procedure is a group of SQL statements that perform a specific task or set of tasks. They can accept input parameters and return output parameters, but also modify data, control transactions.

UDF vs Stored Procedure in SQL

UDF is the acronym for User Defined Functions. The name makes it abundantly clear that the users can define their functions in this feature. Not only can one create the functions, but he can modify them as well.

Furthermore, it generates a return value and should be a part of the SQL statement for it to be executed.

On the other hand, Stored Procedure is also stored in the database but still differs from the above-discussed. The procedures here cannot be called from the UDF, and it has either input parameters or output.

Furthermore, it does not always generate a return value; it is optional and can return zero apart from other values.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonUDF in SQLStored Procedure in SQL
Return ValueIt generates a return valueIt does not always generate a return value; it is optional and can return zero apart from other values.
Execution
It can be executed only if it is part of an SQL statementIt can be executed by the command “EXECUTE.”
ParametersIt only has input parametersIt has either an input parameter or an output
AlterationsThey receive data as parameters, and they cannot be changed or rather aren’t allowed to be changed.They can alter database objects
JOINsIt can be used in JOINsOutput cannot JOIN

What is UDF in SQL?

UDF is the acronym for User Defined Functions. The name makes it abundantly clear that the users can define their functions in this feature. Not only can one create the functions, but he can modify them as well.

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In other words, the user can define his functions by employing the “CREATE FUNCTION” option. These functions can be referenced in Transact-SQL alone by using syntax that is defined in the Transact-SQL Reference.

Furthermore, it generates a return value and should be a part of the SQL statement for it to be executed.

It is pertinent to note that it offers its users a variety of features. All the functions here can be called from the Procedure. It only has input parameters and is devoid of output parameters.

They receive data as parameters, and they cannot be changed or, rather, aren’t allowed to be changed. They can be used in set operations and can also be used in JOINs. It can be used anywhere in the SQL statements.

There is more to add to the list. The functions support just a SELECT statement and also allow a SELECT statement. It does not support “try-catch”. It can use the data types that an SQL server supports. However, it does not support transaction management.

What is the Stored Procedure in SQL?

It is also stored in the database but still differs from the above-discussed. This is nothing but the SQL code that is prepared by one for repeated usage.

Instead of having to rewrite the same query over and over again each time we need it, this offers us the simple and valuable option of simply storing it as a “Stored Procedure”.

The procedures here cannot be called from the UDF, and it has either input parameters or output. Furthermore, it does not always generate a return value; it is optional and can return zero apart from other values.

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It provides numerous features. We know this offers us the privilege of simply storing queries that we know will be useful more than once.

In addition to this, it can also pass parameters to the procedure that is stored. Based on such parameters that were passed, the stored procedure act accordingly.

They improve performance as the stored procedures are used repeatedly. It also has either input parameters or output parameters.

The data that they receive can easily be changed. For people who live in bad network coverage areas, this can be very helpful as it can reduce lengthy queries to a single line and then transmits it over the wire.

Main Differences Between UDF and Stored Procedure in SQL

  1. While UDF is the acronym for User Defined Functions, and the name makes it abundantly clear that in this feature, the users can define their functions, the Stored Procedure is nothing but the SQL code that is prepared by one for repeated usage.
  2. While UDF features only input parameters, Stored Procedure features either input or output parameters.
  3. UDF does not permit the usage of the “Try-catch” blocks. On the other hand, Stored Procedure allows the usage of the “Try-catch” block.
  4. The functions on the UDF are called from the Procedures. However, In the case of Stored Procedures, Procedures are not or rather cannot be called from the UDF.
  5.  In the case of UDF, for the functions to be executed, they have to be a part of an SQL statement. In contrast, the functions in Stored Procedure can be executed by a simple command, “EXECUTE”.
References
  1. https://dl.acm.org/doi/abs/10.1145/276305.276335

Last Updated : 15 June, 2023

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15 thoughts on “UDF vs Stored Procedure in SQL: Difference and Comparison”

    • Absolutely, the author’s expertise on the topic is evident in the thorough breakdown provided in the article.

      Reply
  1. I wish I had come across this article earlier in my SQL learning journey. The comparison between UDF and Stored Procedure is incredibly helpful and well-presented.

    Reply
  2. The article certainly clarifies the functionalities of UDF and Stored Procedure effectively. A great read for SQL enthusiasts.

    Reply
    • Agreed, the intricate details and comparison table make it a one-stop source for understanding UDF and Stored Procedure in SQL.

      Reply
    • I appreciate the depth of information provided, it has been an eye-opener in understanding the significance of UDF and Stored Procedure.

      Reply
  3. This article lays out a very comprehensive comparison between UDF and Stored Procedure in SQL. I appreciate the clarity of information provided here.

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  4. The author has done a tremendous job in explaining the key differences between UDF and Stored Procedure. This is a commendable piece.

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  5. A very insightful piece that meticulously outlines the comparisons between UDF and Stored Procedure. Kudos to the author for such a well-detailed article.

    Reply
  6. The comparison table and detailed explanations help in understanding the nuances of UDF and Stored Procedure in SQL. This is an enlightening read.

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