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III. Using SAS for Windows

1. Windows Display System

The new SAS 9 expands from the previous version to include three new elements on top of its basic three window display system. The Explorer window and Results window provide user better control and organization of the SAS objects (e.g. SAS libraries, SAS data sets) and system output. The latest Enhanced Editor provides a more sophisticated programming editor that is equipped with color coding, macro features and better customizability for programmers' needs. For more new features of the new Enhanced Editor, see Appendix I. Despite that there are more windows to deal with, the new SAS 9 workspace is more versatile and easier to use with the new windowing design.

In its original design, the SAS Display Manager System is composed of three smaller windows labeled Explorer, Log, and Output. The first of which is for program input while the latter two respectively provide the program system log information and the output of the program.  The program log is primarily diagnostics of the programming syntax and gives information about if the program was written correctly and hints for debugging otherwise.  It also reports information about site license, user information, and the SAS release number.  The Output window is where results output by SAS procedures are shown.  If the program does not go through correctly, the output window will usually be blank or report the previous output.

The new Explorer window provides easy access to SAS objects such as File shortcuts and Libraries objects.  You can assign SAS programs or different versions of the same program to a clickable shortcut object using the File shortcut.  Accessing SAS libraries and data sets are much easier in version 8.  All objects are clickable with activation of appropriate windows such as the Viewtable window for data sets.

The Result window is another Windows Explorer-like utility that allows output to be organized in a hierarchical fashion.  

2.  Keys Windows - A Road Map to SAS windows

The new SAS 9 has even more windows than its predecessor.  To name a few, apart from the three default windows, they include the Library window, Filename window, Viewtable window, Keys window, Options window, Graphic windows, etc.  It is imperative to use a "Road Map" to surf around the SAS workspace.  The Keys window plays such a role that guides and gives you shortcuts to different windows.  To activate the Keys window,  point and click on the Command box at the upper left corner and type "keys" (case-insensitive).

The Keys window allows you to assign function keys to switch to the most frequently used windows and perform the most used functions.   In the above example,   the F5, F6 and F7 are assigned to default windows (Program Editor, Log and Output respectively) as in the previous versions and versions in other operating environments.    For the rest of the function keys and hot keys (a combination of function keys, letter keys Control and/or Shift keys), you are basically free to assign what you want or what you use most.  For instance, assigning F12 to "next" allows you to switch to the next window, F2 to "lib" to open the library window, etc.    It is much more convenient to use the function keys than clicking on the menu to perform the frequently used functions or windows.  An alternative is to take advantage of the window tabs at the bottom of the SAS window.  Taking after the Windows taskbar, this SAS taskbar provides shortcuts to the open windows.

3. Entering SAS Statements

To enter SAS statements, simply move the cursor in the Enhanced Editor window and click the left mouse button.

A SAS program normally starts with a data step. Each statement can go on several lines, but it MUST end with a semi-colon. If you want to go to the next line, simply press ENTER.

Conventions on Windows operations are applicable in SAS for Windows. Cutting and pasting, for example, make program editing much easier for users.

By default, SAS for Windows displays the five windows simultaneously. But, you can select Cascade or Tile under Window option at the menu bar to choose the format of display.

Normally, only one window is active at a time. Simply moving the cursor to a particular window and click within the window area and the color change on the panel (top bar of the window) notifies which is the active window. When you enter a SAS session, the Program Editor window is active by default. To make the LOG window active, type LOG at the command box located at left hand corner underneath the menu bar.

4. Submitting SAS Statements

When you have entered your program correctly, you are ready to submit these statements for execution. There are many ways to do so. You can:

1. Highlight the syntax and press F3 or;
2. type SUBMIT at the command box right below the menu bar or;
3. click your right mouse button and select LOCAL, SUBMIT.


If something goes wrong in your SAS statements, SAS will issue error messages in the LOG window. To check if there is an error message, you need to go to the LOG window. Type LOG at the Program Editor command line. Use PageUp and Page Down keys to scroll up and down the window. When the error is located, you may want to go back to your SAS program and make some changes. Type PGM at the command line in the LOG window to make your Program Editor window active. At the command line in the Program Editor type RECALL, you will get your SAS program back. An easy way to do so is to hit F4.

5. Saving SAS Statements

If you wish to save your SAS program, click File on the menu and select save. Give a file name like "A:\", which saves the SAS program file on to your flash drive or other storage device. Alternatively, you can also type in the command box "FILE A:\". This will save every thing on the Program Editor window into drive A: under the name MYPGM.SAS. The same applies to the LOG and OUTPUT windows. Note that by convention, the file extension .sas stands for SAS program files, .log stands for SAS log files and .lst stands for listing or output files.

*.sas - SAS program file
*.log - SAS log file
*.lst - SAS output file


6. Bringing SAS Programs into a SAS Session

If you want to bring a file into the SAS Program Editor window once you have been in SAS for Windows session, type INCLUDE 'A:\MYPGM.SAS' at the Program Editor command line. An alternative way is to use the menu bar and choose from the FILE option. SAS will retrieve a file named 'MYPGM.SAS' from drive A: into the Program Editor window.

7. Ending a SAS Session

To end a SAS session, double click the uppermost left hand corner button or type ENDSAS (abbreviated: ENDS) at the command line with any window active. Of course, you can also end a SAS session by double clicking on the uppermost, right X to close the program. You can close any window by typing END at the command line when the window is active.


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Jon Starkweather, PhD


Richard Herrington, PhD


Last updated: 01/21/14 by Jon Starkweather.

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