What Is Cross Apply In Sql Server

SQL Programming

Hey there, fellow SQL enthusiasts! Today, I want to dive deep into a feature of SQL Server that has been a game-changer for me: CROSS APPLY. If you’ve ever found yourself needing to manipulate data from a table-valued function, then you’re in the right place. Let’s explore what CROSS APPLY does and how it can be leveraged in your SQL queries.

Understanding CROSS APPLY

So, what exactly is CROSS APPLY? Essentially, it is an operator in SQL Server that allows you to invoke a table-valued function for each row returned by a query. This is particularly useful when you want to join the results of the table-valued function with other columns in your query. It’s like a superpower for working with table-valued functions!

For example, let’s say you have a table-valued function that returns a list of orders for a given customer. By using CROSS APPLY, you can seamlessly integrate this list of orders with other columns from your main query, making it incredibly powerful for data manipulation and analysis.

Syntax and Examples

The syntax for using CROSS APPLY is straightforward. Here’s an example:

SELECT customerName, orderDate, product
FROM customers
CROSS APPLY GetOrders(customers.customerID)

In this example, the GetOrders function is invoked for each row in the customers table, allowing us to retrieve the orders for each customer seamlessly. It’s like magic!

Benefits of Using CROSS APPLY

One of the key advantages of using CROSS APPLY is its ability to simplify complex queries. It allows you to modularize your logic by encapsulating it within a table-valued function, making your queries more manageable and easier to maintain.

Additionally, CROSS APPLY can significantly improve query performance in certain scenarios. By invoking the function once for each row, SQL Server can optimize the execution plan, resulting in faster query processing times. It’s a win-win situation!

Personal Tip

From my experience, I’ve found that CROSS APPLY is particularly handy when dealing with hierarchical data or when you need to perform complex calculations based on multiple rows. It’s like having a secret weapon in your SQL arsenal.


In conclusion, CROSS APPLY is a powerful feature in SQL Server that empowers you to work with table-valued functions in a seamless and efficient manner. By leveraging its capabilities, you can take your SQL querying to the next level and tackle complex data manipulation challenges with ease. So, the next time you find yourself needing to work with table-valued functions, remember the superpower of CROSS APPLY!