Monday, August 1, 2011

10 interesting discoveries from SAS 9.3

1. SAS 9.2 and SAS 9.3 coexist
I thought that a new installation of SAS 9.3 would automatically uninstall the old SAS 9.22 on my laptop. Amazingly, the two editions live together peacefully. The directory for SAS 9.3 is SASHOME while SAS 9.22’s is SAS. I can even run them simultaneously, and they don't bother to interfere each other. Anyway, Enterprise Guide 4.3 replaced the old 4.2 edition after this upgrade.

2. Zero-configuration for Enterprise Miner 7.1
In SAS 9.2 era, installation of Enterprise Miner was a nightmare for me. I can’t imagine somebody other than a trained technician can install it properly. In SAS 9.3, Enterprise Miner 7.1 workstation becomes a part of the default installation (of course you should have the license). There seems no hassle to make it work well.

3. Default HTML output is surprisingly speedy
At the beginning, I seriously doubted on this change, since calling a browser to open HTML pages was intolerably slow in the SAS 9.2 windowing environment. However, HTML output in SAS 9.3 is impressively fast, and I didn’t feel any significant difference between the HTML and the listing. However, I suggest keeping the default HTMLBlue as the HTML style. I tried other styles and they are not that fast as HTMLBlue -- possibly it has been optimized for this feature.

4. Much faster installation
I used to spend an entire afternoon to install SAS 9.22 on my ancient laptop. The medium for SAS 9.22 was 4 DVD discs and I was so exhausted to change the discs from time to time. For SAS 9.3 I used only one hour with 3 discs. It is going to be a big relief for those SAS administrators or IT support.

5. New plotting statements come with no learning curve
I can draw bubble plot or waterfall plot simply according to the SG procedures’ syntax. Sanjay Matange told that SAS 9.3 can also do many other kinds of plots, such as heat map, attribute map, clustered graph, etc, which I will certainly explore. And I pretty expect to see his new book about ODS Graphics in SAS 9.3 later this year.

6. One click to Microsoft Office
Another reason I keep HTML as output destination is that it has really cool interface to send the pieces toward Microsoft Office. For example, I can right click on an output table by PROC PRINT to save it as an Excel sheet. Or I can right click on a graph toward OneNote. Previously in SAS 9.22 I have to write a few lines of codes to do this job.

7. The first question: ODS Graphics on or off
The first time I ran SAS 9.3, a window popped up and asked if I wanted to switch off ODS Graphics. Believe it or not, every statistical procedure could generate dazzling high-quality ODS graphs. However, the trade-off is that it costs more computer resources. A regression by PROC REG from weight to height on SASHELP.CLASS takes 44 seconds. Thus I opt for off.
8. Import spreadsheet from Excel 2007/2010 officially
In many years, to transform an xlsx spreadsheet to a CSV or xls format and import is a routine work for SAS users. In SAS 9.22, a hidden trick is to use PROC IMPORT to input Excel 2007/2010 formats. Now we can see that it has an option in the import menu. Finally SAS 9.3 shows friendship to Excel 2007/2010.
9. New tool in the radar: ODS Graphics Designer
This interface would allow users to create ODS graphs by point-and-click. It can also be invoked by the %sgdesign() command. With this nice facility, I am able to find and export the underlying Graph Template Language (GTL) codes from ODS Graphics.
10. Help documents have a multiple-tab head
Everything in SAS 9.3 has been HTMLized. I like the new multiple-tab head for each SAS procedure in the documents, which should be more helpful in locating desired information.

In conclusion, SAS 9.3 is the real athlete for production purpose, while SAS 9.22 looks like an experimental warm-up release.

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