Susan Slaughter

What’s New in The Little SAS Book for Enterprise Guide 4.2

In Enterprise Guide, Everything, Little SAS Book Series, SAS on April 29, 2010 at 10:19 am

Susan and Lora with the brand new LSBEG4.2 at SAS Global ForumQuestion: What’s new in The Little SAS Book for Enterprise Guide 4.2?

Answer: A lot.

Looking at The Little SAS Book for Enterprise Guide 4.2, I am struck by how similar it looks to the previous edition. Updating this book for EG4.2 was not a matter of simply adding a few new sections. On the contrary, practically every section needed to be reworked. So it feels like the changes should be more obvious than they are.

One thing that Lora Delwiche and I are proud of is that this edition is actually shorter than the previous one (371 pages versus 387). We always try to keep the Little SAS Books short, but writing a new edition means adding new features. Normally the new book would be longer, not shorter. So how did we do it?

We combined sections. I won’t list them all because if we did a good job, the changes shouldn’t draw attention, but in one case we actually distilled three sections into one. That’s six pages reduced to two.

Another reason the book is shorter is that some features in EG4.1 have been removed from EG4.2. Most notable is the absence of reading Excel spreadsheets as is. That was the ability to read (and even edit) Excel spreadsheets–as Excel spreadsheets–in EG rather than converting them to SAS data tables. I have met people who were upset by the loss of this feature, but personally I am not sorry to see it go. The ability to interact with your spreadsheet in EG was indeed cool, but it was also confusing and (in my opinion) had little real benefit. How different is it really to have EG automatically read your current spreadsheet versus running your project so that EG will import your current spreadsheet? This topic was confusing enough in EG 4.1 that we wrote an entire tutorial about it. Taking this topic out of LSBEG4.2 allowed us to remove a 2 page reference section and a 26 page tutorial.

Here is a list of the major deletions and additions by section:

What’s Gone

Tutorial B Reading Data from Files The raison d’etre of this section was to explain the different ways to read Excel spreadsheets. Now that there is only one way, we no longer need a complete tutorial on this topic.

1.14 Using SAS Enterprise Guide Help The What is window is gone from EG4.2, and without it this already lightweight section became featherweight and blew away.

2.3 Creating SAS Data Libraries with SAS Enterprise Guide Explorer This feature is still around in EG4.2, but metadata issues have become more complex. We decided to focus on the Assign Project Library task which is available to all users.

2.11 Using Microsoft Excel Spreadsheets As Is Gone, gone, gone.

2.14 Reading Formatted Data You can still specify informats when you read data using EG4.2, but EG is so good at guessing how your data should be read that we had a hard time coming up with a credible example. There will still be people who need to specify an informat in order to have EG read their data properly, but such cases have become uncommon.

What’s New

1.2 Splitting the Resources Pane and Workspace The Resources pane is new, and it folded neatly into our existing section on splitting the workspace.

1.6 Creating and Exporting Task Templates The new task templates, one of my favorite new features in EG4.2,  allow you to reuse your task settings. That way you don’t have to start over from scratch every time you use a task.

1.15 Viewing Program and Project Logs Project logs are not new in EG4.2, but previously we only mentioned that they existed. Now we have a section that actually shows project logs and explains the difference between project logs, program logs, and task logs. Logs are a lot more visible in EG4.2 than they were before, and there are some important differences between the different types of logs so it makes sense to address that.

2.6 Inserting Computed Columns in a Data Grid This is not a new feature, but there were reasons that prevented us from including it in earlier editions. Now with EG4.2, we decided that this feature is ready to be included. It is a handy way to quickly compute a new column based on existing ones. People may not have known about it before, so I’m glad we added it.

5.1 Filtering Data in a Task This new feature is a little rough around the edges, but I think people will use it anyway because it is so handy to be able to subset your data inside a task.

5.2 Using the Filter and Sort Task This new task also allows you to subset your data without facing the complexity of the Query Builder–and you can sort data in the same step.

6.1 Methods for Combining Tables This section describes queries at a conceptual level, something that we think many people will appreciate.

7.9 Creating Grouped Reports with User-Defined Formats This is not a new feature, but shows how you can leverage user-defined formats when you create summary reports.

10.6 Controlling the Axes Having a separate section on modifying axes in graphs adds more depth to our coverage of graphics in EG.

11.4 Combining Results into a Single Document and 11.5 Adding Text, Images, and Headings to Reports While we combined many other sections, in this case we split a section allowing us to show more detail about using the report editor to create custom reports.

11.6 Exporting Results to a File This topic also is not new, but it’s more important now that SAS Report (a proprietary format) is the default for results. You can export SAS Report results as SAS Report, HTML, XML, or PDF.

12.6 Creating Prompts for Text Values In EG4.1 they were called parameters, now they are called prompts and there are many more options. This section creates a text value prompt that is used in the following sections to illustrate a project condition.

12.7 Using Prompts in Project Conditions Project conditions are a cool new feature in EG4.2 that allow you a new level of control over how your project runs.

12.8 Running Projects with Conditions This section explains some of the intricacies of how project conditions work when you run them.

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