Recently we were doing a project that heavily focused on query tuning and many tables had various outer joins. My co-worker pointed out that many of these could be converted to an apply rather than a join.
Apply gives you both CROSS and OUTER. Think of CROSS APPLY like an INNER JOIN and OUTER APPLY like an OUTER JOIN.
Let’s compare some code to see how APPLY stacks up.
I like the APPLY operator so much that I created an entire presentation on it. It’s not a cure-all by any means, but if you understand the intent, you can find places where it improves your code significantly.