Do me a favor: stop doing me favors


A customer posted on the discussion forum that, much his dismay, SAS Enterprise Guide sets the NOFMTERR option automatically when connecting to a SAS session.

The FMTERR|NOFMTERR option specifies whether SAS should report an error when you attempt to reference a data column that has a SAS format applied, but the format definition cannot be found.

SAS Enterprise Guide has always set NOFMTERR, even though it's not the default setting for the option in SAS. Why? Because if you attempt to open data that references a SAS format that SAS cannot find, not only will you be unable to open the data, but you'll get a pop-up message that says something like "Format VAL. cannot be found". Because many SAS Enterprise Guide users are new to SAS, and that message is confusing at best, we erred on the side of allowing you to open the data even without the format. This decision was made in the very early days of the product over 10 years ago, and we've had no suggestions to change it. Then again, we didn't really tell people we were doing it.

In SAS Enterprise Guide 4.2 we made it easier to see exactly what's happening when SAS initializes. No more secrets! Here are the steps:

  1. Select View->Server List
  2. In the Server list, expand the server you are connecting to (ex: "SASApp" or "Local")
  3. Right-click on the server name and select Properties.
  4. Click on the Software tab.
  5. Click on View Initialization Log.

You'll see a SAS log window that contains the same startup log that you might know from running SAS interactively (including the NEWS= content, if any!).

I'll tell you right now: one other system option that SAS Enterprise Guide submits is VALIDVARNAME=ANY, which makes it much easier to import those spreadsheet files with funny column names.

If you want to override these options at startup, that's easy to do by providing your own initialization statements. Check out this tip for instructions.


About Author

Chris Hemedinger

Director, SAS User Engagement

+Chris Hemedinger is the Director of SAS User Engagement, which includes our SAS Communities and SAS User Groups. Since 1993, Chris has worked for SAS as an author, a software developer, an R&D manager and a consultant. Inexplicably, Chris is still coasting on the limited fame he earned as an author of SAS For Dummies


  1. Andrew Tschirhart on


    As a previous user of Display Manager, I am used to changing system options by changing the configuration file. Since EG has built-in options that can override the config file, is there any way that I can find all of the EG built-in code that is run when EG starts? So I can see which of my config file options are being overwritten?

    Andrew Tschirhart

      • Andrew Tschirhart on


        Really appreciate the swift response! Thanks. It will help me in my "quest" to convince my colleagues to switch from Display Manager to SAS EG.


Back to Top