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32 characters is rather short these days, especially when dealing with external (DBMS, excel, etc) data.

Why not allow longer variable names? and labels? and likewise for data members?

The data structure would not be affected, just the metadata.

The change from 8 to 32 (40 to 256 for labels) characters took place for version 7 almost 20 years ago; time for a new enhancement.


Of course, longer text strings in SAS variables (200 to 32k en V7) and macro variables (no change in V7 iirc) would be nice too, but the metadata upgrade should be both easier and more immediately useful.

Obsidian | Level 7

For all the reasons previously cited (particularly supporting longer DBMS column names such as are found in Netezza, etc.), as a longtime SAS programmer I would be very strongly in favor of a modest increase in the maximum allowed variable name length, from 32 characters to 64 characters.


And, while we're at it, it would also be very helpful to increase the maximum length of SAS dataset names from 32 characters to 64 characters as well.


Hardly a month goes by where I don't encounter one or both of these limitations.

Tourmaline | Level 20

@LainieH Can the title be fixed Lainie? 

Obsidian | Level 7

Two thumbs (and any more I can find) up! It's a serious problem within our organization, where more rigorous data modeling standards are causing a rapid increase in tables and fields with names of more than 32 characters. It's the most serious local issue facing SAS usability in its competition with Python.

Fluorite | Level 6
@doesper My instinct is to set it on a par with sql but the increase to 64 would at least be a help
Obsidian | Level 7

As a SAS user I am a consumer of data that has been stored in databases that have been created by someone else. We are in an environment wherein we are increasingly subjected to table and field name lengths greater than SAS supports. Many of the popular databases support table and name lengths in excess of the 32 bytes, and I find my self increasingly having to program workarounds for the limitation.


We are rapidly entering a data driven development scheme where we use the metadata contained in the DB and we rarely ever see, nor do we want to see, the actual name of the tables or fields that we are going to work with. When something blows up in this type of code, it is invariably a limitation in SAS that we encounter. Since we are using SAS, we have to ask the client to "Please limit your table and field names to 32 characters..." It seems rather silly to have to do so in today's environment.


SAS is such a strong tool, why not come into the real world of support and make the ability to fully support the databases we are using instead of asking clients to: "Please limit your development..." or struggling with lookup tables and randomly generated "short table names" supported by SAS.


There was once, and still is, a huge software company that made similar limitations with statements like: you'll ever only need 512K of RAM, nobody needs more than 64K worth of resource management, you only need 8 byte names, and the list goes on and on and on. They learned in the school of hard knocks that it is sufficient that the client has the perceived need for such, actual or not.  It took that company years and years, even decades to overcome some of these seemingly tiny and insignificant problems, all the while getting beaten up by their user communities for the limitations they placed in their code.


The naming convention is not being pioneered by SAS, it already exists and we work around it, how much better of tool it would be if we could stop asking out clients to "Please limit your development to..." or remove that lookup and random short table name generation.


MS SQL Server is a prime example of longer names as are many other major databases we use in our daily data tasks.

Community Manager
Status changed to: Duplicate

The main part of this idea is captured in another that we've been tracking: Increase variable name length from 32 characters.  That idea covers the idea of increasing variable name length and data member name length, both of which are being worked on by SAS.  


If there are parts of this suggestion that aren't covered by that -- and that you still feel are important to address -- I invite you to submit a new suggestion that covers just that.

Tourmaline | Level 20

Why set this as a duplicate of an entry that's

- more limited,

- has fewer votes

- and is more recent?

Calcite | Level 5
Calcite | Level 5

Does SAS really listen to its customers??? This issue is happening all te time and nothing is being done. It is ridiculous....

Lapis Lazuli | Level 10

I would like to support this idea as well. In our team, each individual works with their preferred software and I do not want the size of the var name being my limitation working with SAS. All other software allows longer names for the columns and I am the only one with this issue in our team. It would be a great upgrade for SAS users! Thanks

Obsidian | Level 7

Thanks, Mary.  SAS is working on allowing both longer variable names as well as longer data set names.  These are not trivial changes.  My #1 SASware Ballot idea would unquestionably be increasing the allowed length of SAS data set names.  I run up against this problem constantly!


The latest info we have from SAS is this posting from Chris Hemedinger: