Wednesday, October 29, 2014

HTML 5 Is Official

The W3C has announced that HTML 5 is now an official recommendation. This designation is, in some ways, just a formality, but it is important for SAS. It paves the way for the HTML destination of ODS to deliver results in HTML 5 format in future SAS releases. For ODS purposes, HTML 5 is only slightly different from HTML 4, so you may not notice the difference in the way ODS codes output tables. An advantage of HTML 5, though, is that there is more agreement among web browsers about the way HTML 5 documents should be displayed. This particularly affects spacing details such as cell padding, the small blank area between the data in a table cell and the cell border. In previous HTML versions, browsers did not agree on whether this spacing should be counted when computing the cell width and height. The result is that tables can look noticeably different from one browser to another.

With greater consistency in spacing in HTML 5, you can have more confidence that output files will have a similar look and feel for everyone who looks at the output, regardless of the browser they are using. This in turn should allow style sheets to be more precise, specific, and efficient in the visual design of HTML output tables from SAS, matching the precision that you can already expect in paginated destinations such as PDF.

The HTML destination is one of the most important in ODS, since it is often the default destination. HTML 5 as the default could come with some style sheet adjustments. These are things programmers can look for in the next SAS release.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

New Book: Routine SAS SQL

The new book Routine SAS SQL, out today, is especially for people getting started with SQL in SAS. When I wrote it, I started from the “SQL” chapter in Professional SAS Programming Logic, but I added many more details that a SAS SQL coder is likely to need.

This book is also my first e-book. I’ll be watching to see how popular the e-book formats are in comparison to the print format.

Routine SAS SQL at Amazon (paperback)
Routine SAS SQL at Kobo
Routine SAS SQL for Amazon Kindle
Routine SAS SQL for Apple iPad

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

SAS Analytics 13.1

SAS Analytics 13.1 is shipping as part of a maintenance release for SAS 9.4. This release combination reflects the recent SAS release strategy, in which technology releases come first and analytics releases follow a short time afterward. SAS Analytics 13.1 is meant to work with SAS 9.4. So far, I haven’t come upon any stories of attempting to use 13.1 procedures in SAS 9.3. If history is a guide, that would work to some extent, but with so few incompatibilities in SAS 9.4, it would surely be simpler to make the jump to SAS 9.4.

Friday, November 15, 2013

SAS 9.3 Supports Java 7

SAS supports Java 7 in the latest revision of SAS 9.3. Details can be found at Installation Note 49296. SAS 9.3 continues to fully support Java 6. SAS 9.4 requires Java 7.

For some users, the improved security features of Java 7 will be a reason to upgrade. Oracle has said it stopped development for Java 6 in February. Using an end-of-life version of any software can be a sign that it’s time to upgrade. The idea of relying on an unsupported version of Java is especially uncomfortable given Java’s recent history of security issues. Those users upgrading to Windows 8, where only Java 7 is supported, will probably want to upgrade SAS to 9.4 if they can, but at sites where SAS 9.4 is not yet available, they have the option of continuing to use SAS 9.3.

Monday, November 11, 2013

SAS on Windows 8

SAS Installation Note 46876 explains the limitations of SAS support for Windows 8. To simplify, the latest revisions of SAS 9.3 and 9.4 are validated for use under professional editions of Microsoft Windows 8.0 and 8.1, but you have to be careful about having a compatible browser and Java version.

SAS is still working on a 32-bit version of SAS 9.4 for December 2013 release. When that is available, there will be a wider range of possible configurations for SAS 9.4.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Waiting for SAS 9.4

SAS 9.4 is on its way “soon,” after a preview at SAS Global Forum accompanied by a projection that the release would arrive in a matter of months or weeks. From the programmer’s point of view, the key new features that have been announced so far are support for:

  • The latest Microsoft operation system
  • HTML 5 as the default ODS destination
  • Epub, the popular HTML 5 ebook format, as an ODS destination
  • Server clustering and cloud deployment
  • Security integration
  • An expanded PROC DS2, which works like a procedural programming add-on for SQL

Based the chatter I have been hearing so far, I expect SAS 9.4 to have a very high degree of source code compatibility with previous releases, just as SAS 9.3 did. Of course, you never know for sure until the experts try a suite of representative code, and at this point, we are only waiting and speculating.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

XSL Procedure Goes Production in SAS 9.3

The XSL procedure is marked as production-ready in the second maintenance release of SAS 9.3. In truth, the earlier XSL procedure going back to SAS 9.2 was probably stable enough to rely on, but now SAS has given its stamp of approval to the procedure. The XSL procedure applies transformations to XML documents to produce other forms of XML or other documents such as PDF. The XML library engine in SAS cannot import every form of an XML table, so the XSL procedure could be especially useful in filling that gap by translating the XML data you have to a form of XML that SAS can import as a data set.