Extending SAS BI clients with custom tasks

Despite my evangelization efforts, this is still one of the best kept secrets about SAS Enterprise Guide: you can create your own tasks. (These also work within the SAS Add-In for Microsoft Office.)

So I'm taking the evangelization to a new level: I've been writing a book on the topic. From the draft introduction:

For over 30 years, people have been writing SAS programs to solve business problems, conduct research, and report on data. For almost as long, the people who use those SAS programs have strived to invent ways to make those programs approachable by non-programmers, reusable, and adaptable to changing business processes. 

Custom tasks provide one way to leverage your SAS processes and make them usable by a wide audience. They are a hook for extending SAS Enterprise Guide and SAS Add-In for Microsoft Office – two popular desktop applications that bring the power of SAS to a wide range of users. If you work with SAS users who use these applications as their primary interface to SAS, then custom tasks provide a way to bring your SAS-based solutions to them, without asking them to leave the environment that they know and love.

Custom tasks are the easiest and most natural way for end users to access proprietary processes. However, they also require significant investment in time and expertise to create. In most cases, the return on investment – realized in consistency, control, and ease of use – far outweighs the cost of developing these tasks.

If this book doesn't do the job, I might have to produce a feature-length movie.

The book project is listed in the SAS Press "Under Contract" section. I'm hoping to use this blog as a place to air a few of the ideas and concepts, and perhaps gather some feedback from potential readers. Interested? Let me know by leaving a comment.

tags: SAS custom tasks


  1. Alan Churchill
    Posted October 3, 2008 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    I will be one of the 1st to buy it. I think this is a great idea and I am looking forward to seeing it in print.



  2. Rafi Sheikh
    Posted October 9, 2008 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    I agree with Alan. I would suggest to dedicate a chapter towards which tools (C#, .net) are used, set up (for SAS Savvyy folks who have not yet venture too far into the C# or .net world), which tool versions used, etc. I think that will answer a lot of beginner question (of tool use not programming) and encourage participation.

  3. Julian Wong
    Posted February 12, 2009 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    I will buy one too when it's avaible. Being a technical support guy, I need special tools like this to secure the job.

    If we can do this like what we do in making Addins for Excel, then we can deliver our works in EG.

    I also agree with Rafi that there should be information about the tools to use, hoping that I don't have to learn other new languages.

  4. Rafi
    Posted March 10, 2009 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    One more thing to add, I am very interested in the progress of writing this book. I am surprised that we do not see much more replies on the blog, however, would like to continue encoiuraging the author to keep going ...

  5. Andreas Menrath
    Posted July 26, 2010 at 3:08 am | Permalink

    I also hope that the the book is progressing well and can be bought soon.

  6. David Moors
    Posted October 1, 2010 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    The SAS community need this type of book ASAP. Forget the day job and get writing..

  7. Daniel Collins
    Posted February 4, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    Like Rafi, I look forward to the book and agree plenty of detail about the tools, API's, functions etc is essential.

    I'm sure that increased use of custom tasks will accelerate the productivity of EG users and the popularity of EG.

    Any update on expected timing, and whether it will be available as an eBook ?

5 Trackbacks

  1. [...] developed the application as an example task for SAS Enterprise Guide 4.2 for a book that I'm working on. I'm a ways away from being done with the book, but we are so keen on Twitter, Facebook, and social [...]

  2. [...] feature hundreds of Windows forms, or dialog windows, implemented with Microsoft .NET. Because we encourage customers to extend our products with their own custom tasks, I wanted to share some tips on how to build task dialog windows that appear and behave [...]

  3. [...] I'm not supposed to be working on this blog post right now. I've stayed late at the office under the pretense of working on "the book." It's the book about creating custom tasks for SAS Enterprise Guide, and I've been working on it for quite a while. [...]

  4. [...] First chapter file was created on 22JAN2008 and final revision happened on 29SEP2012. (That sounds about right to me.) [...]

  5. […] the SAS workspace does not have anywhere to host those windows. Many customers work through this by developing custom tasks, which provide a better experience in SAS Enterprise […]

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