Wednesday, September 2, 2015

SAS macros always have a global scope

SAS allows the programmer to declare the scope of macro variables using %LOCAL or %GLOBAL, but the macros themselves are always created in the global scope.

Say you have a macro that in another language, say Python, would be considered a function. Within the macro you want a sub-macro (i.e., sub-function) to be used only within the outer macro.

%macro outer;
%put NOTE: outer;

/* This "sub-macro" is defined within the outer macro and is
   intended only for use within the outer macro. */
 %macro inner(foo);
 %put NOTE: inner &foo;
 %mend;

%inner(1);
%inner(2);
%mend;

%outer;

/* If the "sub-macro" has a local scope, the next step would fail */
%inner(3);

/* However, it succeeds */

This can lead to conflicts if the macro %inner is defined somewhere else in the same session. One way of dealing with this is to be careful to give the inner macro a unique name like __outer_inner where the underscores in the prefix suggest a local scope, and adding outer to the macro name indicates the macro is to be used only in the outer macro.