3 things you should know about custom tasks for SAS Enterprise Guide

If you're using SAS Enterprise Guide and you're not using any custom tasks, then you're missing out.

Custom tasks -- plug-in extensions for SAS Enterprise Guide -- have been around for years, and a few ambitious programmers have managed to build them without the benefit of much guidance or documentation. But now that my new book is available, I hope that many other developers will jump in to the "custom task ecosystem". My book's title is (deep breath...) Custom Tasks for SAS Enterprise Guide using Microsoft .NET.

Here are the three things that I'd like every SAS professional to know about custom tasks.

1. You don't need to know how to build a custom task in order to use it.

Custom Tasks for SAS Enterprise Guide using Microsoft .NET is a book for programmers. Not just for SAS programmers, but for those who are comfortable with building applications: user interface, business logic, error checking -- the whole kit-and-caboodle.

But you don't need to know any of that stuff to benefit from custom tasks. I designed most of my custom task examples to be useful as-is, and not just theoretical exercises. Here are a few that you should try: SAS Macro Variable Viewer, SAS System Options Viewer, Copy Files task, and the Top N Report.

2. Custom tasks can work in the SAS Add-In for Microsoft Office

You can use most of the custom tasks that you build (or download) within the SAS Add-In for Microsoft Office. I know: that's not obvious from the title of the book. But we can allow the title to get only so long!

3. There are lots of examples to help you get started

My book content is split: 50% covers the concepts and "getting started", and 50% includes practical examples with guidance for how to build them. The examples cover many different types of tasks and their features, and they range in complexity from the "very simple" to the "somewhat sophisticated".

To experience the breadth and depth of the examples, visit the Example Code and Projects page for my book. It contains links to over a dozen projects with complete source code, representing thousands of lines of ready-to-use code. All examples are provided in the C# programming language, with a selection also available in Visual Basic .NET.

With the book finally available, I now look forward to being amazed at what you -- the SAS community -- can come up with for new tasks. Perhaps you'll help to automate a business process in your company, or build a user interface for a new analytics technique, or even build something that you want to contribute back to the user community. Impress me!

tags: SAS Add-in, sas enterprise guide, SAS Macro Variable Viewer, SAS programmers, SAS System Options Viewer

2 Comments

  1. Kristiina
    Posted January 10, 2013 at 3:30 am | Permalink

    We have made few custom made add-ins but have continuously problems when reading dll-files in with EG Add-in manager. It is possible that this problem occurs because our workstations have different kinds of components eventhough all our workstations should have same components and configurations. Is there some kind of instructions or list of the components which should be on your workstation when using custom made add-ins?

    This time error message was
    Unable to load file "…..\Aineistonalkuanalyysi.dll.
    Error: Unable to load one or more of the request types.
    Retrieve the LoaderExceptions property for more information..

    • Chris Hemedinger Chris Hemedinger
      Posted January 10, 2013 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

      Kristiina,

      That error can occur for a number of reasons. It may be a missing "dependency", another .NET library that the DLL needs. It might be a mismatch of .NET versions: for example, if you try to load a DLL built with .NET 2.0 or later into EG 4.1 (which needs .NET 1.1).

      In my book I offer some techniques for debugging, including turning on the log4net logging. You can try that with the instructions in this SAS note. If you use the Add-In Manager while this log is enabled, you should see some informative messages in the resulting text log.

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