Susan Slaughter

Archive for May, 2013|Monthly archive page

Highlights from SAS Global Forum 2013

In Everything, ODS Graphics, SAS, SAS Global Forum on May 15, 2013 at 8:31 pm

SGF2013logoI’ve already written about one highlight of SAS Global Forum 2013: the SAS Web Editor. Here are some more features that I think deserve mention. Please note that I make no claims about the comprehensiveness or completeness of this list.

SAS 9.4 and Enterprise Guide 6.1 are scheduled for release in June and bring some important new features.  Here are a few:

ODS POWERPOINT destination  The usefulness of this destination is obvious.  There will be two new styles designed specifically for PowerPoint: one with a white background and one with a black background.  You can use other styles too, but these new styles have the advantage of being fully compatible with the PowerPoint theme selector.  Any graphs you create using ODS Graphics will be embedded in this destination.

ODS LAYOUT  If I remember correctly, the first time I ever heard about the ODS LAYOUT statement was at SUGI 28 in 2003.  I don’t know why it has taken so long to move to production, but I’m glad it’s finally here. If you need custom reports that combine results from multiple procedures, then you will probably love ODS LAYOUT.

PROC ODSLIST and PROC ODSTEXT  These new procedures allow you to create bulleted lists and formatted blocks of text in reports. The content can be static or dynamic (based on a data set).

ODS Graphics  The SG procedures continue to mature.  When I attended Dan Heath’s super-demo on SG procedures, members of the audience repeatedly said “Oh, good, I need that.” New features include a SORT= option in SGPANEL, insets in SGPANEL, split characters for tick and axis labels, and PERCENT and MEDIAN options for STAT=.

Enterprise Guide  For a long time, one of the problems with Enterprise Guide was that it kept evolving so quickly that users felt like they had to learn it all over again with each release. EG users will be glad to know that EG 6.1 uses the same basic layout as EG 4.2 and 5.1.  Improvements in EG 6.1 include sticky notes and a log summary to help people who write code.  Developer Casey Smith said there will be better integration with the ODS Graphics Editor.  I am glad to hear that ODS Graphics is being supported in EG, and I would like to see this dramatically increased. EG users should have the best graphics that SAS can offer.

SGF is finally global  28 percent of attendees were from outside the US.  I have attended SGF and it’s predecessor SUGI for decades, and most of that time I didn’t see a single attendee from outside the US. It’s exciting to see SAS Global Forum living up to its name.

Finally, if you didn’t get to attend SGF (or even if you did) there were some great presentations that you should watch.  I know these have been mentioned by many other people, but they are surprisingly hard to find online. So here are the links:

Opening Session The Opening Session was informative and included an amazing performance by the dance troupe Les Ombres.

Roger Craig’s talk about how he used analytics to train to be a contestant on Jeopardy! was fascinating.

SAS on the Mac is Back

In Everything, SAS, SAS Global Forum on May 15, 2013 at 8:20 pm

SASwebEditorSAS Global Forum ended two weeks ago.  I thought by now someone would have written about SAS on the Mac and saved me the trouble, but since I don’t see much discussion of this in the blogosphere, here are my belated two cents.

If you have been using SAS as long as I have, then you probably know that running SAS on a Mac is nothing new.  SAS Institute released SAS for the Mac lo these many years ago, but then dropped it just a couple years later because there weren’t enough users (read licenses) to justify it. And since then, of course, Mac users have gotten several different products that allow them to run Windows software.  So anyone who really wants to run SAS on a Mac has had that ability for a while.

Given that history, the last thing I expected to see at the Opening Session was a demo of SAS on the Mac–much less on the iPad.

Of course, this is not the same SAS for the Mac that was dropped so long ago.  This is the SAS Web Editor.

The SAS Web Editor is a nimble version of Display Manager that runs in a browser (any HTML 5 compliant browser).  I learned about it just over a month ago when my husband mentioned to me, as we ate dinner, that he had read an interesting blog describing the SAS Web Editor.  Thank you to AnnMaria deMars for getting the word out!  Here is an official press release from SAS Institute dated March 6, 2013.  The SAS Web Editor is a client-server application.  The editor is the client.  To use it, you must have SAS running on some server. That server can be local or remote.  Considering how aggressively SAS Institute has promoted cloud computing over the last decade, it is perhaps surprising that it has taken this long to come up with Display Manager for the Web.  The SAS Web Editor feels like a missing link.  It makes a lot of sense.

Here are some specifics from the Opening Session.  They used the SAS Web Editor in a browser on the Mac to access VMware to run SAS for Linux on the same Mac.  Then they demoed the SAS Web Editor on an iPad (pictured above) which also used the Mac as its server.  (Currently academic users of the SAS Web Editor use SAS Institute’s servers.  Maybe for the opening session they were concerned about slow connection speeds to Cary.  Given the complaints I’ve heard about the internet service at the Moscone Center, this is easy to believe.)

Of course, you can use the SAS Web Editor on Windows (which is what I am doing).  So I find it interesting that they chose to demo it on Apple hardware.  Not only did they show Macs and iPads in the Opening Session, but I saw a lot of iPads being used by SAS staff at the conference.  I think this was a smart move for SAS Institute.  Firstly, there is an undeniable Cool Factor associated with Apple hardware that can only help SAS’s reputation.  At the present, SAS is loosing the battle for the academic market.  Maybe this will help turn the tide.  Secondly, this is a good time to distance oneself from Windows.  This fact was underscored for me by an article in last week’s Economist magazine titled Microsoft blues: Windows 8 is only the beginning of Microsoft’s problems.”

A few other interesting tidbits about the SAS Web Editor:  It is not exactly the same as Display Manager, but the developers showing it in the Demo Room made it clear that they are working hard to get the kinks out. It is currently available only for academic use, but in the Opening Session it was said that it will be available as a free download–no mention of when. They also mention that it will be available for Android platforms.

You can still view the Opening Session online. The SAS Web Editor demo starts around 1 hour in.


Which Little SAS Book?

In Enterprise Guide, Everything, Little SAS Book Series, Publishing, SAS on May 13, 2013 at 2:56 pm

The Little SAS Book: A Primer, Fifth EditonOne of the problems that Lora Delwiche and I face as authors of two books with similar titles (The Little SAS Book and The Little SAS Book for Enterprise Guide) and multiple editions (five of LSB and three of LSBEG) is explaining how the books are different.

The two books are totally different–and complementary.

So I was delighted to see that someone at SAS Press has written a great summary comparing the various editions.

Did you know that the title The Little SAS Book was originally a joke? We explain that and give a little history on