With apologies to this candy advertisement from the 1980s:
"Hey, you got your Lua in my SAS program."
"You got your SAS code in my Lua program!"
Announcer: "PROC LUA: Two great programming languages that program great together!"
What is Lua? It's an embeddable scripting language that is often used as a way to add user extensions to robust software applications. Lua has been embedded into SAS for some time already, as it's the basis for new ODS destinations like EXCEL and POWERPOINT. But SAS users haven't had a way to access it.
With SAS 9.4 Maintenance 3 (released July 2015), you can now run Lua code in the new LUA procedure. And from within that Lua code, you can exchange data with SAS and call SAS functions and submit SAS statements. (Running SAS within Lua within SAS -- it's just like Inception.)
Paul Tomas, the developer for PROC LUA, presented a demo of the feature and its usefulness in a recent SAS Tech Talk:
Paul also wrote a paper for SAS Global Forum 2015: Driving SAS with Lua.
Like many innovations that find their way into customer-facing features, this new item was added to help SAS R&D complete work for a SAS product (specifically, the new version of SAS Forecast Server). But the general technique was so useful that we decided to add it into Base SAS as a way for you to integrate Lua logic.
PROC LUA can be an alternative to the SAS macro language for injecting logical control into your SAS programs. For example, here's a sample program that generates a SAS data set only if the data set doesn't already exist.
proc lua ; submit; -- example of logic control within LUA if not sas.exists("work.sample") then print "Creating new WORK.SAMPLE" sas.submit [[ data work.sample; set sashelp.class; run; ]] else print "WORK.SAMPLE already exists" end endsubmit; run;
NOTE: Lua initialized. Creating new WORK.SAMPLE data work.sample; set sashelp.class; run;
And subsequent runs:
NOTE: Resuming Lua state from previous PROC LUA invocation. WORK.SAMPLE already exists NOTE: PROCEDURE LUA used (Total process time): real time 0.00 seconds cpu time 0.00 seconds
Unlike other embedded languages (like PROC GROOVY), Lua runs in the same process as SAS -- and not in a separate virtual machine process like a Java VM. This makes it easy to exchange information such as data and macro variables between your SAS and Lua programming structures.
If you have SAS 9.4M3 and have time to play with PROC LUA, let us know what interesting applications you come up with!