Use SAS Enterprise Guide to quickly understand a new data set


During IFSUG yesterday, Sunil Gupta gave attendees to his presentation a special homework assignment. Look into the SAS Enterprise Guide task 'Characterize Data'. Sunil suggested that this was a simple approach to quickly getting a summary of all the variables within your data table. Of course, some programmers will use PROC FREQ, PROC SUMMARY , PROC MEANS or PROC SQL to get specific information. Others will type in PROC DATASETS to get the descriptions of columns. But Sunil recommended using 'Characterize Data' to avoid typing code or potentially missing anything in your initial data analysis.

To open the task GUI, click 'Categorize Data' in the Task Menu, or select Tools -> Describe -> Characterize Data.

Get a quick summary of your data using this task.
Tools - Describe - Characterize Data

The task has 3 screens.

  1. Select one or more data tables to analyze
  2. Modify analysis selections. By default all output options are enabled.
    Screen 2 of the EG Characterize Data Task
  3. Reduce the amount of categorical values to include - this is useful if you have a variable with high cardinality (many unique values) so this option will still provide a useful representation of what is in the column, just not everything that is there.
Sample Characterize Data Output
Sample Characterize Data Output

In these three click-thru screens, I just wrote the code to parse through all the variables formats and dynamically determine what type of analysis to run, then execute multiple proc univariates, proc sgplots, proc freqs and proc prints to generate a full report on all columns in the dataset. It's like I'm magic - click click click & I'm done!
Here are a couple of report output examples.

Does anyone else have a 'use this point-and-click trick instead of writing code' example? I know my co-author Tricia Aanderud posted a note this week about generating PROC OLAP code. What trick do you use?

By the way, Sunil ... I hope I passed this homework assignment!


About Author

Angela Hall

Senior Technical Architect

Angela offers tips on using the SAS Business Intelligence solutions. She manages a team of SAS Fraud Framework implementers within the SAS Solutions On-Demand organization. Angela also has co-written two books, 'Building BI using SAS, Content Development Examples' & 'The 50 Keys to Learning SAS Stored Processes'.

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