Sample Summary of SAS Site Visit with Education Department Client

Below is a list of items that were addressed in my recent visit to the State  Education Client. Significant strides were made in the conversion toward the SAS server platform.

I began by meeting with Jane to discuss mainframe migration issues and her view of EG after using it a bit. As for the mainframe files, we briefly reviewed the document I had sent but she suggested that I work with John and Jim on these issues (see below). Jane and I set a tentative schedule for my visit and I went about addressing the issues listed below.

As for the overall EG/Server conversion issue, Jane's main concern is the loss of being able to use Windows Explorer to manage SAS datasets and other files such as Excel and Word. Although EG does provide an interface to manage non-SAS files on the server, it does not have the full functionality of Windows Explorer (for things like detail listings of folder contents with dates displayed). I suggested a few possible workarounds that would involve more configuration and management from IT. Those workarounds included allowing users to map a drive from their PCs to the D drive on the SAS server, setting up a user's local drive as a share that could be mapped to by the SAS server or setting up the shared F drive to be mapped by the SAS Server. The main drawback to each of these workarounds is the configuration and security issues.

At some point soon, State  Education Client will receive and be able to install the brand new version of EG. Although I am yet to see this new version, the document below highlights the changes:

It may be prudent to experiment with the new version of EG and allow the SAS EG expert to provide training before any decisions are made on the 'lack-of-Windows-Explorer' issue.

I met with Jane2 to help migrate files from her PC and some CDs to the server. I gave her a primer on EG and showed her how to interface with the system-assigned libraries as well as how to define her own libraries. Also, in the course of this discussion, Jim was able to provide April a comma-delimited extract of HSAP data. We were able to use the SAS import wizard to very quickly load the file into a SAS dataset and load it on to the server. This process would replace the painful process necessary to write a SAS program to define columns in order to import a fixed-width file.

Additionally, Jane2 was asking how she could automatically assign her user libraries. She was effectively asking for an EG equivalent to an After looking it up, I found that she should find the following file on her PC:

C:\Documents and Settings\xxxxx\Application Data\SAS\Enterprise Guide\3.0\

If she places her custom libname statments at the bottom of this file, they should execute upon running EG and connecting with the EG server. We tested this documented feature ( and found it didn't work. I placed a call to SAS tech support and, after some back-and-forth, was told that the process works however the library doesn't actually appear in the libraries list in EG until a data step is submitted (any data step). Although the library is assigned, the lack of its initial appearance in the libraries list is being reported as a bug.

I met with John and Jim to discuss mainframe file migration issues. They explained that they mostly use flat files as input to SAS programs and would be interested in the process to move those files to the SAS Windows server. I suggested that we move the data as well as a program that processes that data and try to get the program to run on the server. After getting a little snagged in stripping off the line numbers from the mainframe version of the SAS program we were able to move both the data and the program to the PC via ftp.

Once the program was moved I needed to make three adjustments to this particular program to make it 'work'. Note that we did not do any detail testing but a superficial review of the log and output seemed to indicate it ran properly. The three changes were as follows;

1 Added a filename statement to associate the new physical file name (d:\SAS....) with a SAS logical file name.

2 Added the 'missover' option to the input statement in the data step that reads the file.

3 Changes the 'print' keyword in a file statement of a data null step to a physical file name so that output could be reviewed.

As for new libraries, I was able to extract some, but not all information about what 'system-defined' libraries make sense. I proceeded to set up the following four libraries:

  • EOCTest
  • HSAP
  • PactFD
  • PactSC

Everyone seems to agree that libraries like these would be useful to contain 'original files' to be used as input to user programs and that these libraries should be read-only for the user community except for one administrator who periodically loads files. It is not clear however who that administrator will be nor what other libraries will be needed.

I worked with Jim to show him how to perform basic tasks to manage SAS from an IT perspective. We downloaded and installed the latest SAS patch and also worked together to define new users and new libraries. I have left behind a 'cheat sheet' for Jim to be able to manage libraries and users through the SAS Management Console. (I have further refined the cheat sheets and forwarded them to Jim) Jim actually created and configured a new library that we have left in use called 'shared'. I have removed the rights from the demo reslib1-reslib5 libraries for now so as not to confuse users. I have left the folders and their metadata configurations however to be used as examples of how to configure group security.

Jim and I also discussed how to accommodate users who would like to use their laptop and run EG from home. I had explained this was do-able if they had EG installed, were able to connect to the office network and establish a TCP/IP connection to the SAS server. Jim said that the requisite networking changes are being worked on as part of larger networking overhaul process and would likely be ready within a month or two.

In a side note on administration, the setinit (license control) on the SAS server has already expired and is running in the grace period. The grace period is set to expire at the beginning of June and will then begin running in the warning period. The warning period will run until the middle of July at which time it will stop running. My recommendation is to acquire and apply the new setinit prior to entering the warning period.

Just before leaving I sat with Jane and showed her how to create an FTP script file that could be run from her PC to transfer files from the mainframe. The value of scripting could be used for instances when a large number of files need to be moved at one time. Also, Jane and I discussed the possibility that the F drive be mapped to the SAS server. She had spoken to SAS tech support who agreed to assist in an effort to configure this mapping. Jim had also spoke to Jane on this topic and the subject is under consideration.

The group is scheduled to undergo Enterprise Guide training next month. At that time the ‘process flow’ issues will likely bubble to the surface again and can be discussed with all users present and library location and access issues can be further nailed down.