Friday, January 15, 2010

SaviCellsPro and Exciting Changes

Well, it was hectic week. I went back to work again (on a cool project) and spent a lot of personal time on SaviCellsPro. Specifically on a new utility that I think is pretty darn exciting.

In the past, when you used SCP, you needed to write the XML for the product. Now, the XML is well-documented and I have provided help files and samples to make it easy but, let's face it, a lot of people are uncomfortable with XML.

A suggestion was made by a friend of mine at SAS to have a utility that would take an existing Excel spreadsheet and automatically generate the beginning XML so it doesn't have to be done from scratch. Well, I scratched my head and few times and decided, over the Christmas holiday, that this might be doable. Well, it was. SCP now has an XML creator that can take an existing workbook and describe it in XML. A SAS programmer can then use that as a basis and incorporate their data into the SCP XML. It makes it much easier to get started.

The utility supports cell values, styles (fonts, font sizes, borders, italics, bolds, etc.), formulas, graphs, images, print settings, and more. I will continue to add to it as demand is shown.

Expect a rollout next week on SAS-L, sasCommunity, and probably this blog. I have some testers looking at it first but I think this really rounds out SCP nicely. I will probably add in OLAP support and more robust graphing but for now, it is a cool utility that makes it easy to generate native Excel, PDF, and HTML files of your SAS data (or any other data for that matter). Since it uses XML, it can be run on any computer that produces text.

Look for my presentation at SGF on SaviCellsPro and how to use it. It is on Tues at 1:30.

Monday, January 04, 2010

.NET Coders and the sas7bdat dll

I have been spending the last week working on how the interface to the sas dataset can be used by a .NET developer. It is of particular concern because once the initial dll is released, it will be hard to change it. Getting the interface 'mostly' correct is important.

After a lot of thought, here is what I have so far:

//Initiate logging


//Create SAS dataset object

SasDataSet ds = new SasDataSet();

//Add 4 variables

ds.AddVariable("AA1", "Var1");
ds.AddVariable("AA2", "Var2");
ds.AddVariable("AA3", "Var3", 10, SasVariableType.Character,"$5.","$7.");
ds.AddVariable("AA4", "Var4", 10, SasVariableType.Character);

//Add observations
//Bulk insertion

for (int i = 0; i < 1000; i++)
object[] values = new object[] {1, 2, "Test_" + (i + 1).ToString("00#"), "Test2", "Test3", "Test4", "Test5"};
ds.AddObservation(i, values );

//Modify observation - Similar to a .NET dataset

ds.Observations[0]["AA1"].Value = "Test";

//Write dataset

ds.WriteDataSet("TEMP", @"c:\temp\test.sas7bdat");

//Stop logging


The area that was a challenge was adding observations since they are really an array across existing variable metadata.

The other area I am focused on is keeping the wording the same as how SAS would refer to things. Hence, observation instead of row and variable instead of column.

I have also been working on validation so that invalid data does not make it into the dataset. I can't prevent everything, but I am making a good faith effort to minimize it. Also, formats/informats have to be checked, name lengths, length values, dataset name, etc. all have to be verified to make sure they comply. So far, so good but more checking is underway.

While working on this, you realize how much effort has been put into the dataset by SAS over the years and how much work they have to go through to make things compliant and workable.

SAS throwing RPC error

If you are doing code in C#  and get this error when creating a LanguageService: The RPC server is unavailable. (Exception from HRESULT:...