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B.2 Variable Record

There must be one variable record for each numeric variable and each string variable with width 8 bytes or less. String variables wider than 8 bytes have one variable record for each 8 bytes, rounding up. The first variable record for a long string specifies the variable's correct dictionary information. Subsequent variable records for a long string are filled with dummy information: a type of -1, no variable label or missing values, print and write formats that are ignored, and an empty string as name. A few system files have been encountered that include a variable label on dummy variable records, so readers should take care to parse dummy variable records in the same way as other variable records.

The dictionary index of a variable is its offset in the set of variable records, including dummy variable records for long string variables. The first variable record has a dictionary index of 0, the second has a dictionary index of 1, and so on.

The system file format does not directly support string variables wider than 255 bytes. Such very long string variables are represented by a number of narrower string variables. See Very Long String Record, for details.

     int32               rec_type;
     int32               type;
     int32               has_var_label;
     int32               n_missing_values;
     int32               print;
     int32               write;
     char                name[8];
     /* Present only if has_var_label is 1. */
     int32               label_len;
     char                label[];
     /* Present only if n_missing_values is nonzero. */
     flt64               missing_values[];
int32 rec_type;
Record type code. Always set to 2.
int32 type;
Variable type code. Set to 0 for a numeric variable. For a short string variable or the first part of a long string variable, this is set to the width of the string. For the second and subsequent parts of a long string variable, set to -1, and the remaining fields in the structure are ignored.
int32 has_var_label;
If this variable has a variable label, set to 1; otherwise, set to 0.
int32 n_missing_values;
If the variable has no missing values, set to 0. If the variable has one, two, or three discrete missing values, set to 1, 2, or 3, respectively. If the variable has a range for missing variables, set to -2; if the variable has a range for missing variables plus a single discrete value, set to -3.
int32 print;
Print format for this variable. See below.
int32 write;
Write format for this variable. See below.
char name[8];
Variable name. The variable name must begin with a capital letter or the at-sign (`@'). Subsequent characters may also be digits, octothorpes (`#'), dollar signs (`$'), underscores (`_'), or full stops (`.'). The variable name is padded on the right with spaces.
int32 label_len;
This field is present only if has_var_label is set to 1. It is set to the length, in characters, of the variable label, which must be a number between 0 and 120.
char label[];
This field is present only if has_var_label is set to 1. It has length label_len, rounded up to the nearest multiple of 32 bits. The first label_len characters are the variable's variable label.
flt64 missing_values[];
This field is present only if n_missing_values is not 0. It has the same number of elements as the absolute value of n_missing_values. For discrete missing values, each element represents one missing value. When a range is present, the first element denotes the minimum value in the range, and the second element denotes the maximum value in the range. When a range plus a value are present, the third element denotes the additional discrete missing value. HIGHEST and LOWEST are indicated as described in the chapter introduction.

The print and write members of sysfile_variable are output formats coded into int32 types. The least-significant byte of the int32 represents the number of decimal places, and the next two bytes in order of increasing significance represent field width and format type, respectively. The most-significant byte is not used and should be set to zero.

Format types are defined as follows:

Value Meaning
0 Not used.
1 A
5 F
6 IB
8 P
10 PK
11 RB
13 Not used.
14 Not used.
15 Z
16 N
17 E
18 Not used.
19 Not used.
29 QYR
31 PCT
32 DOT
33 CCA
34 CCB
35 CCC
36 CCD
37 CCE