One of the problems that trips up experienced SAS users when they begin to use SAS Enterprise Guide is a result of simple geography.
The SAS Enterprise Guide application runs here, on your desktop. The SAS Workspace session (which accesses data and cranks through your analysis) runs over there, on a remote machine. If you're accustomed to "PC SAS" running all on your local box, you might be forced to rethink a few of your processes. For example, do you have Excel files on your PC to import using PROC IMPORT? Does your SAS program create output that you have to save on your PC? How will you get these files to where they need to be?
There are some strategies that help, including mapped drives, UNC paths, and network shares via a mechanism like Samba. These mechanisms allow your local SAS Enterprise Guide and your remote SAS to "see" a shared location on the network. Also, SAS Enterprise Guide has a few focused tasks that can "move" files for you under the guise of "import" and "export" steps.
But there isn't a general method to copy any file you want from your PC to the SAS Workspace, or from the SAS Workspace to your PC. Until now.
I give you: the Copy Files task for SAS Enterprise Guide.
What "Copy Files" does
The Copy Files task allows you to capture file transfer steps within your SAS Enterprise Guide process flow. You can upload files from your local PC to the remote machine where your SAS Workspace is running. And you can download files from your remote SAS Workspace to a folder on your local PC. It is similar in concept to an FTP process, except that this transfer operation uses your already-existing connection to a SAS Workspace and does not require a separate application.
Some readers might be familiar with SAS/CONNECT Data Transfer Services (PROC UPLOAD and PROC DOWNLOAD), which allows you to transfer files between two SAS sessions. Again, this is similar in concept, but since there is only one SAS session in play here, we need to use a different mechanism.
How to copy files in bulk
The Copy Files task supports two features that allow you to copy multiple files with a single step. First, you can use wildcard characters to match on multiple file names. An asterisk (*) matches all characters, in any number, before the next non-wildcard character. A question mark (?) matches any single character that occupies that position in the file name.
Second, you can use SAS macro variables and expressions to specify any part of the source file names or destination folder. Use a SAS program to determine the files you need to copy earlier in the process, assign that value to a macro variable, and then have the task "dynamically" select the correct files when it's time to copy them.
Support for Task Templates
The Copy Files task also supports a standard SAS Enterprise Guide feature: Task Templates. You can create an instance of the task that is useful in one process, then save those task settings to your personalized set of Task Templates that you can use in another process or even in another project. To save your settings as a template, right-click on the Copy Files task within your process flow and select Create Task Template. To use the new template, select it as a menu item from Tasks->Task Templates.
Limitations to note
This task does not generate a SAS program that you can reuse in a batch SAS process or SAS stored process. The task works by using SAS Workspace APIs to transfer data across your network connection, so all of the work happens "behind the scenes". However, the task does create a detailed log output that shows what files were copied, how many bytes were transferred, how long it took, and whether there were any errors.
How to get the task
You can download the Copy Files task from this link (Zip file). The download package includes three versions that depend on your version of SAS Enterprise Guide: one for v4.3, one for v5.1, and one for v4.1 (with a reduced feature set). There is also a documentation file (PDF) that provides instruction for how to install and use the task.
Update 15Aug2014: SAS users often ask me for an updated version to work with SAS Enterprise Guide 6.1. The 5.1 version of the task has always worked fine with the 6.1 version of the application. But the instructions were not clear on that, so I've built a "6.1" version of the task and added it to the package. If the 5.1 version has been working for you, there is no need to change. If you want to try the 6.1 version (which will work only with SAS Enterprise Guide 6.1), then you now have the option.
Update 18Mar2015 Now there is a v7.1 version as well -- all in the package. Don't forget that in SAS Enterprise Guide 5.1 and later you might need to perform this extra step to "unblock" the downloaded DLL to avoid an error ("HRESULT: 0x80131515") when you try to add the task to your installation.