Thursday, August 27, 2009

What next?

As I can see that shimmer of light at the end of the tunnel I have to start thinking "what do I do with a binary SAS reader/writer?"

I originally started down this path with the goal of avoiding having to read/write SAS using XML Now that I am nearing the finish, I am trying to determine what comes after this (other than a quiet, non-working evening).

Where I am leaning right now is an Excel add-in or something in that space. I think Excel/SAS is one of the biggest areas of opportunity and an area that frankly does not get enough attention, IMO. SQL Server add-ins are another possible option so SAS can be supported in SSIS. It is early in this mulling period though so I would appreciate any thoughts people have on what they would like to see.


LB said...

The problem with Excel and SAS is that SAS (SAS datasets) are the approved method of submitting data to regulatory agencies (FDA). The SAS statistical procedures have been validated. What this means is the way SAS calculates and stores numeric values has been approved and tested and meets the criteria of government (US and international) regulatory agencies. Excel has not been validated to the degree SAS has been. For example (and I am making this up) numbers in Excel with a long decimal numbers may not be rounded correctly after the sixth or seventh decimal place. Also Excel has statistical functions that I assure you are not validated to the extent SAS procedures are validated. Moving a calculation from an Excel spreadsheet to a SAS dataset may provide a false sense confidence that the calculation was done correctly. Likewise a number moved from SAS to Excel may be rounded or truncated in a manner that loses accuracy. It would be best if there was a way (.net function or validated Excel function) to read a SAS datasets that preserves the exact value of the varaible in the dataset.

Alan Churchill said...

Not every application, though, requires this level of scrutiny. In my entire SAS career (20+ years), I have never had to deal with regulatory requirements.

The concern is valid vis-a-vis pharma and some other areas but there is a wide range of apps that do not need a high-degree of precision. That said, a number on a SAS dataset is a double and is easily preserved.

Chris Long said...

@LB - that's not strictly true - the FDA can't mandate the use of SAS datasets because the dataset file format is proprietary. They accept data as SAS transport files, because the transposrt file format is open (though also quite bad).

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