Many SAS customers are quickly adopting 64-bit versions of Microsoft Windows, and they are pleased-as-punch when they find a 64-bit version of SAS to run on it. They waste no time in deploying the new version, only to find that a few things don't work quite the same as they did with the 32-bit version. This post describes the top snags that end users encounter, and how to work around them.
Gotcha #1: Importing Microsoft Excel files
Imagine you have a program that looks like this:
proc import out=work.class datafile="c:\temp\class.xls" DBMS = EXCEL; run;
On 64-bit SAS for Windows, you might be surprised to encounter this error:
ERROR: Connect: Class not registered ERROR: Error in the LIBNAME statement Connection Failed. See log for details. NOTE: The SAS System stopped processing this step because of errors. NOTE: PROCEDURE IMPORT used (Total process time): real time 0.11 seconds cpu time 0.04 seconds
This isn't limited to importing Excel files. It can happen when you use PROC EXPORT to export Excel files, or use DBMS=ACCESS for Microsoft Access database files, or when you try to use LIBNAME EXCEL to reference a local Excel spreadsheet as data.
Your 64-bit SAS process cannot use the built-in data providers for Microsoft Excel or Microsoft Access, which are usually 32-bit modules. In a previous blog post, I've provided a bit of explanation about this limitation.
Use DBMS=EXCELCS for Excel files, or DBMS=ACCESSCS for Microsoft Access. For LIBNAME access, try LIBNAME PCFILES. These approaches use the PC Files Server, which is a separate small application that is provided with SAS/ACCESS to PC Files. Note that you may need to go back and install this application, as it might not have been placed in your installation automatically. However, you can use the Autostart feature to skip having to configure it as a service, and thus minimize the changes to your SAS programs.
Alternatively, you can try DBMS=XLSX to remove the data providers from the equation.
NOTE: There are a few feature differences between the EXCELCS and EXCEL options. Read this SAS note to determine whether these differences will affect your work.
I've heard of a few customers who decide to workaround this limitation by installing the 64-bit version of Microsoft Office (and thus using the 64-bit data providers). That works, but it might introduce other incompatibilities with how you use your Microsoft Office applications. Microsoft recommends the 64-bit version of Office in only a few circumstances; consider the implications carefully before you head down this road.
Gotcha #2: Incompatible FORMATS catalog
Suppose that you have a library of user-defined formats that you once created by using PROC FORMAT. User-defined formats are stored in SAS catalogs, which are a sort of SAS-specific file system structure that SAS can access during your session.
If you created and used these user-defined formats with 32-bit SAS, you'll see this message when you try to use them with 64-bit SAS:
15 libname library "c:\datasources\32bit"; NOTE: Libref LIBRARY was successfully assigned as follows: Engine: V9 Physical Name: c:\datasources\32bit 16 proc print data=sashelp.air; 17 format date benefit.; ERROR: File LIBRARY.FORMATS.CATALOG was created for a different operating system. 18 run;
For all intents and purposes, the move from 32-bit SAS for Windows to 64-bit SAS for Windows is like a platform change, and SAS catalogs are not portable across platforms. Even though you've just moved from one version of Windows to another, from a SAS perspective these files are different, with different internal structures.
SAS provides the utility procedures CPORT and CIMPORT to allow you to transfer catalog content across different operating environments, and you can certainly take that approach for this scenario.
If you have a mixed environment on your team where some people have 32-bit SAS and others have 64-bit SAS, it might be easier to decompose the format definitions down to data sets (by using PROC FORMAT and the CNTLOUT option). You can then easily recreate the formats "on the fly" by using PROC FORMAT and the CNTLIN option.
This works well because SAS data sets are compatible between the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of SAS...mostly. That brings us to the last "gotcha".
Gotcha #3: Different data set encoding triggers CEDA
If you use SAS data sets that were created by a 32-bit version of SAS, you can read them without modification in 64-bit SAS. But you might see a message like this:
NOTE: Data file TEST.HMEQ.DATA is in a format that is native to another host, or the file encoding does not match the session encoding. Cross Environment Data Access will be used, which might require additional CPU resources and might reduce performance.
I've written about cross-environment data access before, and how it's a bit of SAS magic that helps with cross-platform compatibility. However, you might not have expected it to kick in when you upgraded to 64-bit SAS on Windows.
SAS data set files are written with an encoding that is specific to the SAS operating environment. In 32-bit SAS on Windows, the encoding is WINDOWS_32. On 64-bit SAS, it's WINDOWS_64. When the data set encoding differs from the native SAS session encoding, CEDA kicks in.
The good news is that in SAS 9.3, the SAS developers "taught" SAS for Windows to bypass the CEDA layer when the only encoding difference is WINDOWS_32 versus WINDOWS_64.
You don't have to do anything about this issue unless you want to update the data sets. And if you have SAS 9.3, you probably won't see this message at all...at least not when the data originates from 32-bit SAS for Windows.
If you decide to convert entire data set libraries to the new native encoding, you can achieve this by using PROC MIGRATE.
I'll finish this post with just a few general points to guide you:
- 64-bit Windows is pervasive, and is a Good Thing. The 64-bit OS, combined with better hardware and more memory, can help to deliver more throughput.
- In the not-so-distant future, all apps will eventually become native 64-bit. The incompatibility hiccups of today will be tomorrow's faint memory.
- But for today, don’t automatically deploy 64-bit app "just because" such a version exists. Make it a deliberate business decision to consider.
- And if you do go with the 64-bit app, budget the time/resources for 64-bit conversion, if necessary
Related posts about 64-bit topics
Myths about 64-bit computing on Windows
Are 64-bit client applications twice as good as 32-bit applications?
How do I export from SAS to Excel files: Let me count the ways
Should you care about 64-bit applications?