In her role as Product Manager for SAS Platform Technologies (including the SAS Add-In for Microsoft Office), my colleague Amy Peters hears this question often. With many organizations adopting Microsoft Office 365 -- the "cloud" version of Office -- what does this mean for other processes that integrate with Microsoft Office applications? Good news: SAS has a specific offering called SAS for Microsoft 365 that allows you to add SAS content to your favorite Microsoft Office clients. It's part of SAS Visual Analytics on SAS Viya.
Microsoft has used different names for these similar offerings: Office 2016, Office 365, Microsoft 365, Office Online. The bottom line is that most users of a "365" package in the cloud, also have access to the Microsoft Office tools on their Windows desktop. They can use the full version of Excel, PowerPoint, Word, etc., and they also have access to these same tools via a web browser. At SAS, we recently experienced this transition ourselves. Have the Office applications on our desktops vanished? No, they have not. While more of our data is now on the cloud (looking at you, OneDrive), it's not really changing how we work, especially when creating/maintaining content. (Like many organizations, we already had one foot in this world by using Microsoft SharePoint for collaboration.)
Collaboration on the web. Full control on the desktop
Let's look at an example of how I use SAS with Microsoft Office. First, I create a report in SAS Visual Analytics. Then I open Excel on my desktop and use the SAS Add-In for Microsoft Office to embed the shared report into my spreadsheet. Want to see what that looks like in action? Check out this video Tech Talk with SAS developer Tim Beese.
Now suppose that I share this content in Microsoft OneDrive, and my colleague views it in Excel in a web browser. Yep, the content is still there. The difference is that the content is not dynamic like it is on my desktop. So what do you do when you want to edit that spreadsheet displaying in the browser? You select Open in Excel and the document opens on your desktop. Voila! The content is dynamic and you have all the functionality the SAS Add-In for Microsoft Office provides.
How is Microsoft Office 365 changing your workflow?
Today, the expectation of most users working with "Office Online" applications in their browsers is that it's primarily for viewing and basic editing. Will this change? Probably. We're researching how to provide more of the SAS Add-In for Microsoft Office function in a browser app. If you or your colleagues need this browser-based function – you want to do something specific in Excel with your SAS content -- we want to hear from you. And do you have a plan to move completely to browser-based Office apps? Currently you can't create SAS content from a browser-based Office app. If that's a pressing need, we would like to know. For now, we're not hearing of use cases where some form of the desktop app isn't still in the picture.
SAS integration with these everyday productivity tools, like Microsoft Office, is important to us. Don't forget about these SAS programming methods to create and read your Microsoft Office content:
- At the data level, with PROC IMPORT, PROC EXPORT and LIBNAME XSLX to read and write Microsoft Excel files.
- Using ODS to create SAS report output with ODS POWERPOINT, ODS EXCEL, and now ODS WORD documents (preproduction) without the need for Microsoft Office software (so it works on Windows and Unix systems).
- Using Microsoft Office 365 APIs and PROC HTTP to read, create, and manage content in Microsoft OneDrive directly.
How are you using Microsoft Office 365 with SAS? How do you think this workflow will change for you in the next year or two? Leave a comment -- we would love to hear from you.