SAS® Metadata/Dictionary Tables    

Below are a collection of dictionary table SAS® papers.  Along with the DEFINE.XML file to view variable attributes, it may also be useful to create a multi-sheet excel of all datasets and CODEBOOK to characterize data.  

See Pharmaceutical programming section for example of applying variable attributes from an excel file.  See SAS Dictionary Tables Gallery.  See also Proc ContentsProc FREQExcel filesProc SQL and SAS Macro Programming.  SAS® Savvy ClassAutomating Tasks using SAS Macro and Metadata Programming

 Dictionary/Array Reference Functions Result 
See SAS Paper, SAS Paper 2


Assign label to variable



Returns the variable's label

Example, Y=VLABEL(X); or Y=VARLABEL(X);



Returns the length of the string or numeric value from a character or numeric variable
 VNAME() Returns the variable's name, argument is often arrary index reference  See also INDEX("&VAR", 'END') > 0 to compare variable names 

Returns the variable's type (N, C)

 VVALUE() Returns the formatted value

Download var_def macro [See also ODS and DEFINE.PDF]

* Most common to view list of variables and attributes in selected datasets;



 SELECT UNIQUE libname, memname, name, type, length, label, format


 WHERE upcase(libname) = 'LEXLIB' and upcase(memname) = '_SKELETON_'; 



 Beginner SAS Programmer


Beginner Paper SAS DICTIONARY: Step by Step, Patrick Thornton

SAS® Webinar Dictionary Tables, Kirk Lafler

SAS® Webinar Dictionary Tables, Amadeus Software

SAS® Reference Accessing Information by using dictionary tables


 Advanced SAS Programmer

Advanced Paper The Design and Use of Metadata: Part Fine Art, Part Black Art, Frank DiIorio

 Macro SAS Programmer

Application Paper Considerations for Building an Integrated Safety Database Using SAS, Denise J. Smith, Daniel Schulz, Gayle Kloss, Wei Cheng

CODEBOOK: Taking Another Look At Your Data, Greg Silva Download SAS macro [Macro]


SASHELP Presentation


1. A Quick and Easy Data Dictionary Macro, Pete Lund [Codebook]

2. Data About Data: An Introduction to Dictionary Tables, Frank C. Dilorio

3. Using Metadata for Data Driven Programming, Brian Varney

4. Meta Data That You (Probably) Didn’t Know That You Had: A Beginners’ Guide to Using SAS Dictionaries and Automatic Macro Variables, Richard F. Pless

5. Dictionary Tables and Views: Essential Tools for Serious Applications, Frank DiIorio, Jeff Abolafia

6. How Are All of these Tables Related? - Relational Database Map RDB_MAP.SAS, Eric Losby

7. Using Dictionary Tables to Explore SAS® Datasets, Phillip Julian

8. A Metadata Driven Programming Technique using SAS®, Xiyun Cheryl Wang

9. SQL Metadata Applications: I Hate Typing, Hannah Fresques

10. Give me EVERYTHING! A macro to combine the CONTENTS procedure output
and formats, Lynn Mullins
 [Variable Definition Table with formats, Macro, Codebook]

11. A Simple Way to Create a Clinical Trial Study Data. Dictionary, Frank Llu

12. Utilizing the VNAME SAS® function in restructuring data files, Mirjana Stojanovic, Donna Niedzwiecki

13. How to Create Data-Driven Lists, Kate Burnett-Isaacs

14. Accessing SAS metadata and using it to help us develop data-driven SAS programs, Iain Humphreys

15. Metadata integrated programming, Jesper Zeth, Jan Skowronski

16. Creating ''Variable Name" Data Sets With CALL VNAME and PROC TRANSPOSE, David Swift

17. Metadata Management – Building Blocks

18. ‘V’ for … Variable Information Functions to the Rescue, Richann Watson, Karl Miller

19. astraZENeca and the ART of metadata maintenance, Paul Frost [Presentation]

20. How Do I Look it Up If I Cannot Spell It: An Introduction to SAS Dictionary Tables, Peter Eberhardt, Ilene Brill

21. Utilizing SAS® Functions to Access Variable Information, Joleen Borgerding, Akiko Chai

22. Techniques for Generating Dynamic Code from SAS® DICTIONARY Data, Jingxian Zhang


24. Metadata-driven Tool for Creation of a Dataset for Exploratory Analyses, Alexey Kuznetsov

25. Accessing SAS metadata and using it to help us develop data-driven SAS programs,Iain Humphreys [Macros]

26. Comparing dataset metadata, Jim Groeneveld

27. Comparing 6 Techniques To Do Data Driven Programming, Joris Derks

28. SAS Programming Techniques for Manipulating Metadata on the Database Level Chris Speck

29. Writing Data Quality rules using SAS Meta-programming

30. PROC CATALOG, the Wish Book SAS® Procedure, Louise Hadden

31. Additional Metadata for Common Catalog Entry Types, Kenneth Borowiak

32. A Lightweight HTML Codebook Generator for Clinical Trial Data, Lei Zhang

33. SAS Rule-Based Codebook Generation for Exploratory Data Analysis, Ross Bettinger

34. A Comprehensive Codebook Generator, Naoko Stearns, John Gerlach [Macros]

35. General Use Data Delivery Codebook/Data Dictionary, Donna Medeiros, Nick Kinsey, Margo Brinkley

36. An Integrated Approach to Codebook Generation using SAS [Presentation]

37. PROC DOC III: Self-generating Codebooks Using SAS, Louise Hadden

38. An Efficient Method to Create a Large and Comprehensive Codebook, Wen Song, Kamya Khanna, Baibai Chen

39. A Software Toolkit for Data Management, Kim Chantala, Jean Robinson, and Helen Smith [Proc Codebook, Macros, Presentation]

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