Copy/paste is my favorite method for creating new SAS programs. In my work projects, I maintain a sort of genealogy of SAS programs, because the DNA of one program can be used to spawn many other SAS programs as its progeny. When things (inevitably) aren't working as I intend in one of these next-generation programs, I find that I need to compare that program against the original to see what I've missed.
My file-comparison tool of choice is WinMerge. It's free and easy to install and use. That's why I'm really pleased with the new Compare Programs feature in SAS Enterprise Guide 7.1.
Here is how you set it up.
1. Install a file comparison tool.
I like WinMerge. But some of my colleagues prefer Beyond Compare or KDiff. Your choice! Most of these tools can integrate with your file system so that you can compare any two files from Windows Explorer. They also integrate with source control systems, if you use those (Git, Subversion, etc.).
2. Set your File Comparison options in SAS Enterprise Guide
Select Tools->Options, then the File Comparison tab. Check "Use custom file comparison tool" and then select your tool of choice. There are built-in presets for the three comparison tools that I mentioned, or you can go "off road" and select your favorite with "Other".
3. Select the two files that you want to compare
In the Project Tree or Process Flow, you can select multiple programs by using the standard Ctrl+Click sequence or by "rubber banding" a selection with the mouse (Process Flow only). When you have exactly two programs selected, right-click and select Compare.
- The content you see in the comparison tool is a copy of your program. Therefore, if you use the comparison tool to make changes, these won't be reflected in your SAS Enterprise Guide project. Of course, you can copy the changed content to the Windows clipboard and paste it into the SAS Enterprise Guide program editor.
- You can do more with file comparison when using the Program History feature, which I introduced in this blog post about new programming features in SAS Enterprise Guide 7.1.