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Using Outer Joins

SQL Server 2000

Using Outer Joins

Inner joins return rows only when there is at least one row from both tables that matches the join condition. Inner joins eliminate the rows that do not match with a row from the other table. Outer joins, however, return all rows from at least one of the tables or views mentioned in the FROM clause, as long as those rows meet any WHERE or HAVING search conditions. All rows are retrieved from the left table referenced with a left outer join, and all rows from the right table referenced in a right outer join. All rows from both tables are returned in a full outer join

Microsoft® SQL Server™ 2000 uses these SQL-92 keywords for outer joins specified in a FROM clause:

  • LEFT OUTER JOIN or LEFT JOIN

  • RIGHT OUTER JOIN or RIGHT JOIN

  • FULL OUTER JOIN or FULL JOIN

SQL Server supports both the SQL-92 outer join syntax and a legacy syntax for specifying outer joins based on using the *= and =* operators in the WHERE clause. The SQL-92 syntax is recommended because it is not subject to the ambiguity that sometimes results from the legacy Transact-SQL outer joins.

Using Left Outer Joins

Consider a join of the authors table and the publishers table on their city columns. The results show only the authors who live in cities in which a publisher is located (in this case, Abraham Bennet and Cheryl Carson).

To include all authors in the results, regardless of whether a publisher is located in the same city, use an SQL-92 left outer join. The following is the query and results of the Transact-SQL left outer join:

USE pubs
SELECT a.au_fname, a.au_lname, p.pub_name
FROM authors a LEFT OUTER JOIN publishers p
   ON a.city = p.city
ORDER BY p.pub_name ASC, a.au_lname ASC, a.au_fname ASC

Here is the result set:

au_fname             au_lname                       pub_name          
-------------------- ------------------------------ ----------------- 
Reginald             Blotchet-Halls                 NULL
Michel               DeFrance                       NULL
Innes                del Castillo                   NULL
Ann                  Dull                           NULL
Marjorie             Green                          NULL
Morningstar          Greene                         NULL
Burt                 Gringlesby                     NULL
Sheryl               Hunter                         NULL
Livia                Karsen                         NULL
Charlene             Locksley                       NULL
Stearns              MacFeather                     NULL
Heather              McBadden                       NULL
Michael              O'Leary                        NULL
Sylvia               Panteley                       NULL
Albert               Ringer                         NULL
Anne                 Ringer                         NULL
Meander              Smith                          NULL
Dean                 Straight                       NULL
Dirk                 Stringer                       NULL
Johnson              White                          NULL
Akiko                Yokomoto                       NULL
Abraham              Bennet                         Algodata Infosystems
Cheryl               Carson                         Algodata Infosystems

(23 row(s) affected)

The LEFT OUTER JOIN includes all rows in the authors table in the results, whether or not there is a match on the city column in the publishers table. Notice that in the results there is no matching data for most of the authors listed; therefore, these rows contain null values in the pub_name column.

Using Right Outer Joins

Consider a join of the authors table and the publishers table on their city columns. The results show only the authors who live in cities where a publisher is located (in this case, Abraham Bennet and Cheryl Carson). The SQL-92 right outer join operator, RIGHT OUTER JOIN, indicates all rows in the second table are to be included in the results, regardless of whether there is matching data in the first table.

To include all publishers in the results, regardless of whether a city has a publisher located in the same city, use an SQL-92 right outer join. Here is the Transact-SQL query and results of the right outer join:

USE pubs
SELECT a.au_fname, a.au_lname, p.pub_name
FROM authors AS a RIGHT OUTER JOIN publishers AS p
   ON a.city = p.city
ORDER BY p.pub_name ASC, a.au_lname ASC, a.au_fname ASC

Here is the result set:

au_fname             au_lname                 pub_name             
-------------------- ------------------------ -------------------- 
Abraham              Bennet                   Algodata Infosystems
Cheryl               Carson                   Algodata Infosystems
NULL                 NULL                     Binnet & Hardley
NULL                 NULL                     Five Lakes Publishing
NULL                 NULL                     GGG&G
NULL                 NULL                     Lucerne Publishing
NULL                 NULL                     New Moon Books
NULL                 NULL                     Ramona Publishers
NULL                 NULL                     Scootney Books

(9 row(s) affected)

An outer join can be further restricted by using a predicate (such as comparing the join to a constant). This example contains the same right outer join, but eliminates all titles that have sold fewer than 50 copies:

USE pubs
SELECT s.stor_id, s.qty, t.title
FROM sales s RIGHT OUTER JOIN titles t
   ON s.title_id = t.title_id
   AND s.qty > 50
ORDER BY s.stor_id ASC

Here is the result set:

stor_id qty    title                                                     
------- ------ --------------------------------------------------------- 
(null) (null) But Is It User Friendly?                                   
(null) (null) Computer Phobic AND Non-Phobic Individuals: Behavior 
            Variations                  
(null) (null) Cooking with Computers: Surreptitious Balance Sheets       
(null) (null) Emotional Security: A New Algorithm                        
(null) (null) Fifty Years in Buckingham Palace Kitchens                  
7066   75     Is Anger the Enemy?                                        
(null) (null) Life Without Fear                                          
(null) (null) Net Etiquette                                              
(null) (null) Onions, Leeks, and Garlic: Cooking Secrets of the 
            Mediterranean                  
(null) (null) Prolonged Data Deprivation: Four Case Studies              
(null) (null) Secrets of Silicon Valley                                  
(null) (null) Silicon Valley Gastronomic Treats                          
(null) (null) Straight Talk About Computers                              
(null) (null) Sushi, Anyone?                                             
(null) (null) The Busy Executive's Database Guide                        
(null) (null) The Gourmet Microwave                                      
(null) (null) The Psychology of Computer Cooking                         
(null) (null) You Can Combat Computer Stress!                            

(18 row(s) affected)

For more information about predicates, see WHERE.

Using Full Outer Joins

To retain the nonmatching information by including nonmatching rows in the results of a join, use a full outer join. Microsoft® SQL Server™ 2000 provides the full outer join operator, FULL OUTER JOIN, which includes all rows from both tables, regardless of whether or not the other table has a matching value.

Consider a join of the authors table and the publishers table on their city columns. The results show only the authors who live in cities in which a publisher is located (in this case, Abraham Bennet and Cheryl Carson). The SQL-92 FULL OUTER JOIN operator indicates that all rows from both tables are to be included in the results, regardless of whether there is matching data in the tables.

To include all publishers and all authors in the results, regardless of whether a city has a publisher located in the same city, or whether a publisher is located in the same city, use a full outer join. The following is the query and results of the Transact-SQL full outer join:

USE pubs
SELECT a.au_fname, a.au_lname, p.pub_name
FROM authors a FULL OUTER JOIN publishers p
   ON a.city = p.city
ORDER BY p.pub_name ASC, a.au_lname ASC, a.au_fname ASC

Here is the result set:

au_fname             au_lname                     pub_name             
-------------------- ---------------------------- -------------------- 
Reginald             Blotchet-Halls               NULL
Michel               DeFrance                     NULL
Innes                del Castillo                 NULL
Ann                  Dull                         NULL
Marjorie             Green                        NULL
Morningstar          Greene                       NULL
Burt                 Gringlesby                   NULL
Sheryl               Hunter                       NULL
Livia                Karsen                       NULL
Charlene             Locksley                     NULL
Stearns              MacFeather                   NULL
Heather              McBadden                     NULL
Michael              O'Leary                      NULL
Sylvia               Panteley                     NULL
Albert               Ringer                       NULL
Anne                 Ringer                       NULL
Meander              Smith                        NULL
Dean                 Straight                     NULL
Dirk                 Stringer                     NULL
Johnson              White                        NULL
Akiko                Yokomoto                     NULL
Abraham              Bennet                       Algodata Infosystems
Cheryl               Carson                       Algodata Infosystems
NULL                 NULL                         Binnet & Hardley
NULL                 NULL                         Five Lakes Publishing
NULL                 NULL                         GGG&G
NULL                 NULL                         Lucerne Publishing
NULL                 NULL                         New Moon Books
NULL                 NULL                         Ramona Publishers
NULL                 NULL                         Scootney Books

(30 row(s) affected)

See Also

Operators

SELECT

Using Operators in Expressions

SELECT Examples

Writing Readable Code

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