Cage match: SAS Studio versus SAS Enterprise Guide


I wish I had a nickle for every time I heard this question at SAS Global Forum:

"So, does this SAS Studio thing replace SAS Enterprise Guide?"

SAS Studio is a pretty big deal. It's groundbreaking in several ways:

  • It's a web-based programming interface to SAS. It runs in your browser, which means that end users don't have to install anything (when connecting to a remote SAS session).
  • It's an HTML5-based application, so there are no browser plugins needed. It runs on Windows, Macs, and even the iPad.
  • It's the basis for new offerings from SAS, most notably the SAS University Edition. This offering is free to just about any learner for non-commercial use. The SAS University Edition includes SAS, running in a virtual machine, packaged with SAS Studio as the user interface. Since its launch earlier this week, people have been downloading it like crazy.

You're going to be hearing a lot about SAS Studio. It was even the theme for this month's SAS Tech Report.
If you haven't seen SAS Studio, take a few minutes and watch my SAS Tech Talk interview with Shannon Smith, the SAS R&D testing manager for the product:


So what does this mean for those of us who have invested our skills and processes in SAS Enterprise Guide? If you read this blog regularly, you know that includes me! Does this "new app on the block" replace our beloved SAS Enterprise Guide? The answer is No -- and Yes.

No, SAS Studio isn't a direct SAS Enterprise Guide replacement. SAS Enterprise Guide continues to get new features, mostly targeting productivity enhancements and integration with other SAS offerings, such as SAS Visual Analytics. Many thousands of users around the world use SAS Enterprise Guide to manage process flows, reporting and analytics, database access, and custom processes. SAS Studio doesn't have all of that infrastructure (at least, not yet), and cannot step in to replace all of that.

But also, Yes: SAS Studio can replace some uses of SAS Enterprise Guide. If you use SAS Enterprise Guide simply as way to manage SAS programs in your SAS environment, then you can certainly use SAS Studio instead (or as well) to develop and maintain those programs. SAS Studio also includes some tasks for non-programmers, similar to those found in SAS Enterprise Guide -- but for now the library isn't as rich as what you'll find in SAS Enterprise Guide. And with the SAS University Edition, SAS Studio will represent the first SAS experience for the next generation of SAS programmers.

Sometimes SAS users ask me (usually in a hushed tone): Why does SAS create these different applications that seem to compete with each other? Is there some sort of contest in SAS R&D to see which teams can outdo the others? My answer: while these apps might have a certain amount of overlap, they really do serve different purposes and different audiences. Our goal is to enable SAS users -- regardless of discipline, industry, or expertise -- with the tools that are most fit for their particular purpose. One size does not fit all (though some diehard PC SAS fans might disagree with me).

Plus, here's another secret: the same developers have built all of these applications. The SAS Studio development team includes people who worked on SAS Display Manager (you know, "PC SAS") and SAS Enterprise Guide. This is a direct benefit of SAS being such a great workplace: nobody leaves. That means that the lessons learned from customers and developers are carried over and applied in each successive "app generation". If developers are competing, then they are mostly competing with the proven work they've done in the past. But since the teams always have new technology and techniques at their disposal, it's the end users who win.


About Author

Chris Hemedinger

Senior Manager, SAS Online Communities

+Chris Hemedinger is the manager of SAS Online Communities. He's also co-author of the popular SAS for Dummies book, author of Custom Tasks for SAS Enterprise Guide using Microsoft .NET, and a frequent participant on the SAS Enterprise Guide discussion forum.

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  1. Pablo Orosco Joerger on

    Hi Chris,

    I find it is fantastic to have the opportunity to have virtual SAS Studio on several platforms and even so flexible. Anyhow I still rely on the well proven and very hepful Enterprise Guide while programming.

    • Chris Hemedinger
      Chris Hemedinger on

      Pablo, me too! I love SAS Studio in a pinch, but EG is still my go-to SAS workbench. I have it on my machine, so why not? But when working from a remote site where all I have is a browser, I love that SAS Studio is an option.

  2. Michelle Homes

    Hi Chris,

    A good post outlining the products SAS Studio and Enterprise Guide.

    You mention above that the SAS University Edition "offering is free to just about any learner for non-commercial use." Which seems to suggest that it could be used by a professional for self-learning outside of academia. Is that correct?

    The fact sheet at states it is to be used "in an academic setting", which seems to imply at a school, university etc.

    My takeaway from SAS Global Forum 2014 was that it was only for academia use. Is it possible to get some clarity on who can use it?


    • Chris Hemedinger
      Chris Hemedinger on


      SAS University Edition is for anyone who wants to learn/practice with SAS. Academics (students and professors) are the primary audience, but others who want to build their SAS skills can use it as well -- that's the "adult learners" audience mentioned in the fact sheet. In fact, it replaces the SAS OnDemand for Professionals offering, which was a subscription-based access to SAS for professional learners. There are strict licensing restrictions against commercial use, but if you want to build your SAS skills to advance your career, this offering is an amazing opportunity.

  3. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for being so frank. I also think it's helpful to have several programming clients with distinct features (eg. lightweight / standalone, .NET / Java-based etc.) in order to match specific user requirements more adequately.
    Even if I'm not asked, I'll give you some thoughts about the SAS clients diversification :

    - in my (highly, I'm afraid ;-) peculiar opinion, SAS EG doesn't compete directly with SAS Studio (let's say SST) but with other clients like SAS Data Integration Studio and JMP as well.

    - In my wildest dreams, I would assemble & mix together for example EG automated features (user prompts) with DIS code generating capabilities along with JMP highly interactive user interface. A very peculiar cocktail, indeed but so sweet to my own taste and maybe to others too :-)
    - I fully understand that keeping things separate is very beneficial to distinct user communities (ETL / Statistical Analysts / BI reporting analysts etc.) but now with Roles/Capabilities, SAS provides the necessary tool to adapt the same client to different group of users. SAS EG being able to run BI reports created with SAS WRS or VA is great, but I'd like also SAS EG being able to run DIS jobs in the same vein.

    - SAS clients diversity means also different incompatible storage files/formats : DIS stores its content in metadata and in SVN also (a very strong point), JMP has it its own format and even SAS EG *.egp files are not 100% compatible from one release of EG to the next (4.3 vs 5.1 in my case). Format integration is not an easy task, then.

    - I think SAS Studio re-using a standard XML descrition framework (Apache velocity) for storing its tasks is taking a good turn. By contrast, SAS EG next release seem to base their versioning features on a proprietary components instead of a closer integration to market standards like SVN or even GitHub.

    Wishlists are easier to be said than done, sure :-). Just a highly peculiar opinion, highly questionable as well.


  4. Prashant Chegoor on

    I have downloaded and installed the SAS University Edition.I am impressed by the fact that i no longer require an Internet Connection to use the SAS studio and above all it is free.I can polish my Base SAS Skills with this product using the latest SAS software.It's awesome and Kudos to the all the people at SAS Institute who conceived this Idea. The only thing i miss in this software is the SAS/Graph Product. If only this can be added in the near future that would be great.SAS/Graph is a product which requires thorough Practice and the addition of this to SAS University Edition would really help.After all Learning Graphs using SAS/Graph is important nowadays.

    • Prashant Chegoor on

      Thanks for the above answer Chris .

      But I also noticed that in the month of August this year SAS Ondemand for Academics will be UPGRADED and as part of the update the SAS Web editor component will be renamed to SAS studio and also opened up for everyone ie not just Students and Instructors.

      So will this SAS Studio have SAS/GRAPH product unlike SAS Studio for the SAS University Edition?

      • Chris Hemedinger
        Chris Hemedinger on


        I believe the statement about it being open to everyone is a reference to the SAS University Edition. Which, as we've said, supports SG* graphics but not SAS/GRAPH. I'm not sure whether the hosted version of SAS OnDemand for Academics will include SAS/GRAPH -- it might, if instructors depend on it. But I believe that the ODS Graphics are very capable for most teaching purposes.

        SAS/GRAPH is still required for geo data/mapping tasks, and some specialized types of business graphs.

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  6. Hi,

    I don't have SAS Enterprise Guide available anymore. Can I open an EGP file in Studio? If not how do I ever open EGP file without unzipping it.

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  8. Hi Chris,

    I just downloaded the Virtual app, installed Oracle's VisualBox Virtual machine, and then brought up SAS Studio in my Browser. What a great experience. Did lots of the same things I can do in EG. Well worth the effort to bring up and kick the tires.

  9. Pradeep Singh on

    When connecting to remote server and assigning libraries I don't see the libname appearing in the libraries section .
    Is there something that needs to done . Or is it that SAS Studio does not have this option .
    Pradeep Singh

    • Chris Hemedinger
      Chris Hemedinger on

      You should see any library that the SAS session can access -- you might need to refresh your library list.

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