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Add an option to PROC FORMAT that would allow us to type a description when we define the format.

Currently, we can type such a description after the format is defined, using PROC CATALOG.

Specifically, I would like to add the DESCRIPTION option to the PROC FORMAT statement.

This option should work the same way as it works in the MODIFY statement of the PROC CATALOG procedure (I just want to do it sooner -- when I define the format, not in a separate step later)

One good use for such a description is to include the identity (&sysuserid) of the person who makes or changes the format (as soon as he/she changes the format, not in a separate step)

Ideally, PROC CATALOG would show a USER field in the output, and this field would populate automatically with the value in &sysuserid as soon as that person defines the format, but this might be too difficult, so I'm just asking to add the description option to proc catalog.

Related discussion:

Format Description at the Time of Definition

Rhodochrosite | Level 12

Is this description accesible through the DICTIONARY?

Pyrite | Level 9

PhilC, that’s a good idea. I didn’t think of looking in the dictionary.

The FORMATS table in the dictionary (or the VFORMAT table in the SASHELP library) has some information about formats but no description.

Rhodochrosite | Level 12

It should be. I mean I'd use the DICTIONARY.FORMATS dataset to search for formats matching key words in a hypothetical description field.  Beats having to concatenate all the PROC CATALOG results.  If it's appropriate to add this feature to this request... here's an another idea for the developers.

Quartz | Level 8

This is a great idea.  Also it might be nice if FMTLIB output was brought into the 21st century...


Lapis Lazuli | Level 10

I agree with this suggestion.


In the same way that I encourage users to assign labels to variables at the time those variables are created, doing the same with a format/informat would be a really good idea. I have done a job recently where the site had several hundred formats with about four descriptions amongst them. Giving users a statement/option in Proc Format to assign a description at creation time can only be a good idea. Plus, when reading the code months or years later, the label self-documents the purpose of the format in the code.


Downunder Dave.