Integration Services (SSIS) Variables

Variables store values that a SQL Server Integration Services package and its containers, tasks, and event handlers can use at run time. The scripts in the Script task and the Script component can also use variables. The precedence constraints that sequence tasks and containers into a workflow can use variables when their constraint definitions include expressions.

You can use variables in Integration Services packages for the following purposes:

  • Updating properties of package elements at run time. For example, you can dynamically set the number of concurrent executables that a Foreach Loop container allows.

  • Including an in-memory lookup table. For example, a package can run an Execute SQL task that loads a variable with data values.

  • Loading variables with data values and then using them to specify a search condition in a WHERE clause. For example, the script in a Script task can update the value of a variable that is used by a Transact-SQL statement in an Execute SQL task.

  • Loading a variable with an integer and then using the value to control looping within a package control flow. For example, you can use a variable in the evaluation expression of a For Loop container to control iteration.

  • Populating parameter values for Transact-SQL statements at run time. For example, a package can run an Execute SQL task and then use variables to dynamically set the parameters in a Transact-SQL statement.

  • Building expressions that include variable values. For example, the Derived Column transformation can populate a column with the result obtained by multiplying a variable value by a column value.

System and user-defined variables

Integration Services supports two types of variables: user-defined variables and system variables. User-defined variables are defined by package developers, and system variables are defined by Integration Services. You can create as many user-defined variables as a package requires, but you cannot create additional system variables.

All variables—system and user-defined—can be used in the parameter bindings that the Execute SQL task uses to map variables to parameters in SQL statements. For more information, see Execute SQL Task and Parameters and Return Codes in the Execute SQL Task.

Note

The names of user-defined and system variables are case sensitive.

You can create user-defined variables for all Integration Services container types: packages, Foreach Loop containers, For Loop containers, Sequence containers, tasks, and event handlers. User-defined variables are members of the Variables collection of the container.

If you create the package using SSIS Designer, you can see the members of the Variables collections in the Variables folders on the Package Explorer tab of SSIS Designer. The folders list user-defined variables and system variables.

You can configure user-defined variables in the following ways:

  • Provide a name and description for the variable.

  • Specify a namespace for the variable.

  • Indicate whether the variable raises an event when its value changes.

  • Indicate whether the variable is read-only or read/write.

  • Use the evaluation result of an expression to set the variable value.

  • Create the variable in the scope of the package or a package object such as a task.

  • Specify the value and data type of the variable.

    The only configurable option on system variables is specifying whether they raise an event when they change value.

    A different set of system variables is available for different container types. For more information about the system variables used by packages and their elements, see System Variables.

    For more information about real-life use scenarios for variables, see Use Variables in Packages.

Properties of variables

You can configure user-defined variables by setting the following properties in either the Variables window or the Properties window. Certain properties are available only in the Properties window.

Note

The only configurable option on system variables is specifying whether they raise an event when they change value.

Description
Specifies the description of the variable.

EvaluateAsExpression
When the property is set to True, the expression provided is used to set the variable value.

Expression
Specifies the expression that is assigned to the variable.

Name
Specifies the variable name.

Namespace
Integration Services provides two namespaces, User and System. By default, custom variables are in the User namespace, and system variables are in the System namespace. You can create additional namespaces for user-defined variables and change the name of the User namespace, but you cannot change the name of the System namespace, add variables to the System namespace, or assign system variables to a different namespace.

RaiseChangedEvent
When the property is set to True, the OnVariableValueChanged event is raised when the variable changes value.

ReadOnly
When the property is set to False, the variable is read\write.

Scope

Note

You can change this property setting only by clicking Move Variable in the Variables window.

A variable is created within the scope of a package or within the scope of a container, task, or event handler in the package. Because the package container is at the top of the container hierarchy, variables with package scope function like global variables and can be used by all containers in the package. Similarly, variables defined within the scope of a container such as a For Loop container can be used by all tasks or containers within the For Loop container.

If a package runs other packages by using the Execute Package task, the variables defined in the scope of the calling package or the Execute Package task can be made available to the called package by using the Parent Package Variable configuration type. For more information, see Package Configurations.

IncludeInDebugDump
Indicate whether the variable value is included in the debug dump files.

For user-defined variables and system variables, the default value for the InclueInDebugDump option is true.

However, for user-defined variables, the system resets the IncludeInDebugDump option to false when the following conditions are met:

  • If the EvaluateAsExpression variable property is set to true, the system resets the IncludeInDebugDump option to false.

    To include the text of the expression as the variable value in the debug dump files, set the IncludeInDebugDump option to true.

  • If the variable data type is changed to a string, the system resets the IncludeInDebugDump option to false.

    When the system resets the IncludeInDebugDump option to false, this might override the value selected by the user.

Value
The value of a user-defined variable can be a literal or an expression. A variable includes options for setting the variable value and the data type of the value. The two properties must be compatible: for example, the use of a string value together with an integer data type is not valid.

If the variable is configured to evaluate as an expression, you must provide an expression. At run time, the expression is evaluated, and the variable is set to the evaluation result. For example, if a variable uses the expression DATEPART("month", GETDATE()) the value of the variable is the number equivalent of the month for the current date. The expression must be a valid expression that uses the SSIS expression grammar syntax. When an expression is used with variables, the expression can use literals and the operators and functions that the expression grammar provides, but the expression cannot reference the columns from a data flow in the package. The maximum length of an expression is 4000 characters. For more information, see Integration Services (SSIS) Expressions.

ValueType

Note

The property value appears in the Data type column in the Variables window.

Specifies the data type of the variable value.

Scenarios for using variables

Variables are used in many different ways in Integration Services packages. You will probably find that package development does not progress far before you have to add a user-defined variable to your package to implement the flexibility and manageability your solution requires. Depending on the scenario, system variables are also commonly used.

Property Expressions Use variables to provide values in the property expressions that set the properties of packages and package objects. For example, the expression, SELECT * FROM @varTableName includes the variable varTableName that updates the SQL statement that an Execute SQL task runs. The expression, DATEPART("d", GETDATE()) == 1? @[User::varPackageFirst]:@[User::varPackageOther]", updates the package that the Execute Package task runs, by running the package specified in the varPackageFirst variable on the first day of the month and running the package specified in the varPackageOther variable on other days. For more information, see Use Property Expressions in Packages.

Data Flow Expressions Use variables to provide values in the expressions that the Derived Column and Conditional Split transformations use to populate columns, or to direct data rows to different transformation outputs. For example, the expression, @varSalutation + LastName, concatenates the value in the VarSalutation variable and the LastName column. The expression, Income < @HighIncome, directs data rows in which the value of the Income column is less than the value in the HighIncome variable to an output. For more information, see Derived Column Transformation, Conditional Split Transformation, and Integration Services (SSIS) Expressions.

Precedence Constraint Expressions Provide values to use in precedence constraints to determine whether a constrained executable runs. The expressions can be used either together with an execution outcome (success, failure, completion), or instead of an execution outcome. For example, if the expression, @varMax > @varMin, evaluates to true, the executable runs. For more information, see Add Expressions to Precedence Constraints.

Parameters and Return Codes Provide values to input parameters, or store the values of output parameters and return codes. You do this by mapping the variables to parameters and return values. For example, if you set the variable varProductId to 23 and run the SQL statement, SELECT * from Production.Product WHERE ProductID = ?, the query retrieves the product with a ProductID of 23. For more information, see Execute SQL Task and Parameters and Return Codes in the Execute SQL Task.

For Loop Expressions Provide values to use in the initialization, evaluation, and assignment expressions of the For Loop. For example, if the variable varCount is 2 and varMaxCount is 10, the initialization expression is @varCount, the evaluation expression is @varCount < @varMaxCount, and the assignment expression is @varCount =@varCount +1, then the loop repeats 8 times. For more information, see For Loop Container.

Parent Package Variable Configurations Pass values from parent packages to child packages. Child packages can access variables in the parent package by using parent package variable configurations. For example, if the child package must use the same date as the parent package, the child package can define a parent package variable configuration that specifies a variable set by the GETDATE function in the parent package. For more information, see Execute Package Task and Package Configurations.

Script Task and Script Component Provide a list of read-only and read/write variable to the Script task or Script component, update the read/write variables within the script, and then use the updated values in or outside the script. For example, in the code, numberOfCars = CType(Dts.Variables("NumberOfCars").Value, Integer), the script variable numberOfCars is updated by the value in the variable, NumberOfCars. For more information, see Using Variables in the Script Task.

Add a variable

  1. In SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT), open the Integration Services package you want to work with.

  2. In Solution Explorer, double-click the package to open it.

  3. In SSIS Designer, to define the scope of the variable, do one of the following:

    • To set the scope to the package, click anywhere on the design surface of the Control Flow tab.

    • To set the scope to an event handler, select an executable and an event handler on the design surface of the Event Handler tab.

    • To set the scope to a task or container, on the design surface of the Control Flow tab or the Event Handler tab, click a task or container.

  4. On the SSIS menu, click Variables. You can optionally display the Variables window by mapping the View.Variables command to a key combination of your choosing on the Keyboard page of the Options dialog box.

  5. In the Variables window, click the Add Variable icon. The new variable is added to the list.

  6. Optionally, click the Grid Options icon, select additional columns to show in the Variables Grid Options dialog box, and then click OK.

  7. Optionally, set the variable properties. For more information, see Set the Properties of a User-Defined Variable.

  8. To save the updated package, click Save Selected Items on the File menu.

Add Variable dialog box

Use the Add Variable dialog box to specify the properties of a new variable.

Options

Container
Select a container in the list. The container defines the scope of the variable. The container can be either the package or an executable in the package.

Name
Type the variable name.

Namespace
Specify the namespace of the variable. By default, user-defined variables are in the User namespace.

Value type
Select a data type.

Value
Type a value. The value must be compatible with the data type specified in the Value type option.

Read-only
Select to make the variable read-only.

Delete a variable

  1. In SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT), open the Integration Services project that contains the package you want.

  2. In Solution Explorer, right-click the package to open it.

  3. On the SSIS menu, click Variables. You can optionally display the Variables window by mapping the View.Variables command to a key combination of your choosing on the Keyboard page of the Options dialog box.

  4. Select the variable to delete, and then click Delete Variable.

    If you don’t see the variable in the Variables window, click Grid Options and then select Show variables of all scopes.

  5. If the Confirm Deletion of Variables dialog box opens, click Yes to confirm.

  6. To save the updated package, click Save Selected Items on the File menu.

Change the scope of a variable

  1. In SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT), open the Integration Services project that contains the package you want.

  2. In Solution Explorer, right-click the package to open it.

  3. On the SSIS menu, click Variables. You can optionally display the Variables window by mapping the View.Variables command to a key combination of your choosing on the Keyboard page of the Options dialog box.

  4. Select the variable and then click Move Variable.

    If you don’t see the variable in the Variables window, click Grid Options and then select Show variables of all scopes.

  5. In the Select New Scope dialog box, select the package or a container, task, or event handler in the package, to change the variable scope.

  6. To save the updated package, click Save Selected Items on the File menu.

Set the properties of a user-defined variable

To set the properties of a user-defined variable in Integration Services, you can use one of the following features:

  • Variables window.

  • Properties window. The Properties window lists properties for configuring variables that are not available in the Variables window: Description, EvaluateAsExpression, Expression, ReadOnly, ValueType, and IncludeInDebugDump.

Note

Integration Services also provides a set of system variables whose properties cannot be updated, with the exception of the RaiseChangedEvent property.

Set expressions on variables

When you use the Properties window to set expressions on a user-defined variable:

  • The value of a variable can be set by the Value or the Expression property. By default, the EvaluateAsExpression property is set to False and the value of the variable is set by the Value property. To use an expression to set the value, you must first set EvaluateAsExpression to True, and then provide an expression in the Expression property. The Value property is automatically set to the evaluation result of the expression.

  • The ValueType property contains the data type of the value in the Value property. When Value is set by an expression, ValueType is automatically updated to a data type that is compatible with the evaluation result of the expression. For example, if Value contains 0 and ValueType property contains Int32 and you then set Expression to GETDATE(), Value contains the current date and time and ValueType is set to DateTime.

  • The Properties window for the variable provides access to the Expression Builder dialog box. You can use this tool to build, validate, and evaluate expressions. For more information, see Expression Builder and Integration Services (SSIS) Expressions.

    When you use the Variables window to set expressions on a user-defined variable:

  • To use an expression to set the variable value, first confirm that the variable data type is compatible with the evaluation result of the expression and then provide an expression in the Expression column of the Variables window. The EvaluateAsExpression property in the Properties window is automatically set to True.

  • When you assign an expression to a variable, a special icon marker displays next to the variable. This special icon marker also displays next to connection managers and tasks that have expressions set on them.

  • The Variables window for the variable provides access to the Expression Builder dialog box. You can use this tool to build, validate, and evaluate expressions. For more information, see Expression Builder and Integration Services (SSIS) Expressions.

    In both the Variables and Properties window, if you assign an expression to the variable, and EvaluateAsExpression is set to True, you cannot change the variable data type.

Set the Namespace and Name properties

The values of the Name and Namespace properties must begin with an alphabetic character letter as defined by the Unicode Standard 2.0, or an underscore (). Subsequent characters can be letters or numbers as defined in the Unicode Standard 2.0, or the underscore (\).

Set Variable Properties in the Variables Window

  1. In SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT), open the Integration Services project that contains the package you want.

  2. In Solution Explorer, right-click the package to open it.

  3. On the SSIS menu, click Variables.

    You can optionally display the Variables window by mapping the View.Variables command to a key combination of your choosing on the Keyboard page of the Options dialog box.

  4. Optionally, in the Variables window click Grid Options, and then select the columns to appear in the Variables window and select the filters to apply to the list of variables.

  5. Select the variable in the list, and then update values in the Name, Data Type, Value, Namespace, Raise Change Event, Description, and Expression columns.

  6. Select the variable in the list, and then click Move Variable to change the scope.

  7. To save the updated package, on the File menu, click Save Selected Items.

Set Variable Properties in the Properties Window

  1. In SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT), open the Integration Services project that contains the package you want.

  2. In Solution Explorer, right-click the package to open it.

  3. On the View menu, click Properties Window.

  4. In SSIS Designer, click the Package Explorer tab and expand the Package node.

  5. To modify variables with package scope, expand the Variables node; otherwise, expand the Event Handlers or Executables nodes until you locate the Variables node that contains the variable that you want to modify.

  6. Click the variable whose properties you want to modify.

  7. In the Properties window, update the read/write variable properties. Some properties are read/read only for user-defined variables.

    For more information about the properties, see Integration Services (SSIS) Variables.

  8. To save the updated package, on the File menu, click Save Selected Items.

Update a variable dynamically with configurations

To dynamically update variables, you can create configurations for the variables, deploy the configurations with the package, and then update the variable values in the configuration file when you deploy the packages. At run time, the package uses the updated variable values. For more information, see Create Package Configurations.

Use the Values of Variables and Parameters in a Child Package

Map Query Parameters to Variables in a Data Flow Component