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Types of Functions

SQL Server 2008 supports both user-defined functions and built-in system functions.

User-defined scalar functions return a single data value of the type defined in the RETURNS clause. Simple scalar functions have no function body; the scalar value results from a single function statement (often a SELECT statement). In multi-statement scalar functions, the function body is defined in a BEGIN...END block and contains a series of Transact-SQL statements that return a single value. The return type can be any data type except text, ntext, image, cursor, spatial, hierarchyID, and timestamp.

The following example uses the single scalar ufnGetInventoryStock function to return the current inventory quantity for products that have a ProductModelID between 75 and 80.

USE AdventureWorks;
GO
SELECT ProductModelID, Name, dbo.ufnGetInventoryStock(ProductID)AS CurrentSupply
FROM Production.Product
WHERE ProductModelID BETWEEN 75 and 80;
GO


The following example creates a multi-statement scalar function. The function takes one input value, a ProductID, and returns the aggregated quantity of the specified product in inventory as the single return value.

USE AdventureWorks;
GO
IF OBJECT_ID (N'dbo.ufnGetInventoryStock', N'FN') IS NOT NULL
    DROP FUNCTION ufnGetInventoryStock;
GO
CREATE FUNCTION dbo.ufnGetInventoryStock(@ProductID int)
RETURNS int 
AS 
-- Returns the stock level for the product.
BEGIN
    DECLARE @ret int;
    SELECT @ret = SUM(p.Quantity) 
    FROM Production.ProductInventory p 
    WHERE p.ProductID = @ProductID 
        AND p.LocationID = '6';
     IF (@ret IS NULL) 
        SET @ret = 0;
    RETURN @ret;
END;
GO


User-defined table-valued functions return a table data type. For an inline table-valued function, there is no function body; the table is the result set of a single SELECT statement.

The following example creates an inline table-valued function. The function takes one input parameter, a customer (store) ID, and returns the columns ProductID, Name, and the aggregate of year-to-date sales as YTD Total for each product sold to the store.

USE AdventureWorks;
GO
IF OBJECT_ID (N'Sales.ufn_SalesByStore', N'IF') IS NOT NULL
    DROP FUNCTION Sales.ufn_SalesByStore;
GO
CREATE FUNCTION Sales.ufn_SalesByStore (@storeid int)
RETURNS TABLE
AS
RETURN 
(
    SELECT P.ProductID, P.Name, SUM(SD.LineTotal) AS 'YTD Total'
    FROM Production.Product AS P 
      JOIN Sales.SalesOrderDetail AS SD ON SD.ProductID = P.ProductID
      JOIN Sales.SalesOrderHeader AS SH ON SH.SalesOrderID = SD.SalesOrderID
    WHERE SH.CustomerID = @storeid
    GROUP BY P.ProductID, P.Name
);
GO


The following example invokes the function and specifies customer ID 602.

SELECT * FROM Sales.ufn_SalesByStore (602);


In a multi-statement table-valued function, a BEGIN...END block defines the function body and contains a series of Transact-SQL statements that build and insert rows into the table results.

The following example creates a table-valued function. The function takes the single input parameter EmployeeID and returns a list of all the employees who either directly or indirectly report to the specified employee ID 109. Employee ID 109 is then used as the input parameter in the example and a list of employees is returned in the result table.

USE AdventureWorks;
GO
IF OBJECT_ID (N'dbo.ufn_FindReports', N'TF') IS NOT NULL
    DROP FUNCTION dbo.ufn_FindReports;
GO
CREATE FUNCTION dbo.ufn_FindReports (@InEmpID INTEGER)
RETURNS @retFindReports TABLE 
(
    EmployeeID int primary key NOT NULL,
    Name nvarchar(255) NOT NULL,
    Title nvarchar(50) NOT NULL,
    EmployeeLevel int NOT NULL,
    Sort nvarchar (255) NOT NULL
)
--Returns a result set that lists all the employees who report to the 
--specific employee directly or indirectly.*/
AS
BEGIN
   WITH DirectReports(Name, Title, EmployeeID, EmployeeLevel, Sort) AS
    (SELECT CONVERT(Varchar(255), c.FirstName + ' ' + c.LastName),
        e.Title,
        e.EmployeeID,
        1,
        CONVERT(Varchar(255), c.FirstName + ' ' + c.LastName)
     FROM HumanResources.Employee AS e
          JOIN Person.Contact AS c ON e.ContactID = c.ContactID 
     WHERE e.EmployeeID = @InEmpID
   UNION ALL
     SELECT CONVERT(Varchar(255), REPLICATE ('| ' , EmployeeLevel) +
        c.FirstName + ' ' + c.LastName),
        e.Title,
        e.EmployeeID,
        EmployeeLevel + 1,
        CONVERT (Varchar(255), RTRIM(Sort) + '| ' + FirstName + ' ' + 
                 LastName)
     FROM HumanResources.Employee as e
          JOIN Person.Contact AS c ON e.ContactID = c.ContactID
          JOIN DirectReports AS d ON e.ManagerID = d.EmployeeID
    )
-- copy the required columns to the result of the function 
   INSERT @retFindReports
   SELECT EmployeeID, Name, Title, EmployeeLevel, Sort
   FROM DirectReports 
   RETURN
END;
GO
-- Example invocation
SELECT EmployeeID, Name, Title, EmployeeLevel
FROM dbo.ufn_FindReports(109)
ORDER BY Sort;
GO


Built-in functions are provided by SQL Server to help you perform a variety of operations. They cannot be modified. You can use built-in functions in Transact-SQL statements to:

  • Access information from SQL Server system tables without accessing the system tables directly. For more information, see Using System Functions.

  • Perform common tasks such as SUM, GETDATE, or IDENTITY. For more information, see Functions (Transact-SQL).

Built-in functions return either scalar or table data types. For example, @@ERROR returns 0 if the last Transact-SQL statement executed successfully. If the statement generated an error, @@ERROR returns the error number. And the function SUM(parameter) returns the sum of all the values for the parameter.

Updated content

Removed incorrect content on inline scalar functions.

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