Macro To check if a variable exists in SAS dataset

Have you ever needed to know if a given variable exists in the SAS data set? Below is a macro that will check for the existence of a variable in a dataset and will return a value of 0 if the variable does not exist and the column number if the variable exists.

The macro has 2 required parameters and 1 optional parameter.

  • DATA parameter accepts 2 level SAS dataset name Example. SASHELP.CARS
  • VAR is the variable name. Example Model
  • INFO is for variable attributes. Example FMT

The %VAREXISTS macro uses Variable functions in a data step and to check if a variable exists in SAS and returns the variable info. It will return the below attributes of the variable when appropriate parameters are passed in the INFO parameter. If no value is passed, it returns the column position of the variable by default.

  • Len – To return the length of the variable.
  • fmt – to return Format of the variable
  • infmt – to return the informal of the variable.
  • label – to return Label of the variable
  • type – To return type of variable. (Character of Numeric).

Macro to check if a variable exists in a SAS dataset.

If a variable exists

%put EXISTS: %varexist(sashelp.class,age)

– Returns 3

If a variable does not exist

%put EXISTS: %varexist(work.test,doesnotexist)

– Returns 0

If a Dataset does not exist

%put EXISTS: %varexist(doesnotexist,doesnotexist)

– Returns 0

Variable attribute usage:

%put LENGTH: %varexist(sashelp.class,age,len)

%put FORMAT: %varexist(sashelp.class,age,fmt)

%put INFORMAT: %varexist(sashelp.class,age,infmt)

%put LABEL: %varexist(sashelp.class,age,label)

%put TYPE: %varexist(sashelp.class,age,type)
options symbolgen mprint mlogic;
%macro varexist(data,var,info);
%local macro parmerr dsis rc varnum;
%let macro = &sysmacroname;
%let dsid = %sysfunc(open(&data));

%if (&dsid) %then %do;
   %let varnum = %sysfunc(varnum(&dsid,&var));

   %if (&varnum) %then %do;
      %if (%length(&info)) %then %do;
         %if (&info eq NUM) %then %do;
&varnum
         %end;
         %else %do;
%sysfunc(var&info(&dsid,&varnum))
         %end;
      %end;
      %else %do;
&varnum
      %end;
   %end;

   %else 0;

   %let rc = %sysfunc(close(&dsid));
%end;

%else 0;
%mend;

/******* END OF FILE *******/
%put EXISTS:   %varexist(sashelp.class,age); 
%put VARNUM:   %varexist(sashelp.class,age,num);
%put LENGTH:   %varexist(sashelp.class,age,len);
%put FORMAT:   %varexist(sashelp.air,date,fmt);
%put INFORMAT: %varexist(sashelp.class,age,infmt);
%put LABEL:    %varexist(sashelp.class,age,label);
%put TYPE:     %varexist(sashelp.class,age,type);

SAS Log:

%put EXISTS: %varexist(sashelp.class,age);
EXISTS: 3
%put VARNUM: %varexist(sashelp.class,age,num);
VARNUM: 0
%put LENGTH: %varexist(sashelp.class,age,len);
LENGTH: 8
%put FORMAT: %varexist(sashelp.air,date,fmt);
FORMAT: MONYY.
%put INFORMAT: %varexist(sashelp.class,age,infmt);
INFORMAT:
%put LABEL: %varexist(sashelp.class,age,label);
LABEL:
%put TYPE: %varexist(sashelp.class,age,type);
TYPE: N

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Subhro Kar is an Analyst with over five years of experience. As a programmer specializing in SAS (Statistical Analysis System), Subhro also offers tutorials and guides on how to approach the coding language. His website, 9to5sas, offers students and new programmers useful easy-to-grasp resources to help them understand the fundamentals of SAS. Through this website, he shares his passion for programming while giving back to up-and-coming programmers in the field. Subhro’s mission is to offer quality tips, tricks, and lessons that give SAS beginners the skills they need to succeed.