Using the SAS Output Delivery System to enhance, customize, and render reports

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Chevell Parker (left) with SAS user Ron Fehd at MWSUG2015

To kick off his presentation at MWSUG2015, SAS’ Chevell Parker flashed a picture of an old-school phone booth and asked the audience where he could find the nearest one. Met with several seconds of silence, he smiled. “Don’t all answer at once!” The point of his question was obvious: as technology advances, you need to change to stay relevant. Parker argues that SAS users face a similar challenge. “Reports are critical for businesses,” said Parker. “In today’s business world, the days of traditional, single-listing reports have gone the way of the phone booth.”

Fortunately Parker, a Sr. Principal Technical Support Analyst for SAS, says SAS users are in great position to meet this challenge. “These days you need to deliver and report information in a way that most benefits your customers. SAS’ Output Delivery System has tools that enable you to package, present, and deliver report data in meaningful ways, across the most popular desktop and mobile devices.”

Parker highlighted four in particular:

Customizing reports using cascading style sheets

An industry standard used to define the visual presentation for web pages, Parker said cascading style sheets (CSS) can now be used to define the presentation of Adobe PDF files, Microsoft Excel worksheets, and RTF, and E-books. Parker said it’s easy to modify styles in your reports using the ODS CSS style engine, which incorporates the use of cascading style sheets (CSS) and the ODS document object model (DOM). “It’s an innovative alternative to using PROC TEMPLATE and enables you to generate styles that can be applied globally in your reports.”

Enhancing formatted reports in the body of an email

Report consumers view your reports across a variety of media – one might view reports on a desktop machine while others use a mobile device. “ODS give you the ability to produce formatted reports within an email,” Parker said. He highlighted a number of techniques for presenting highly formatted (SMTP) reports across a variety of email platforms. The main idea of this section centered on including reports in the body of an email message, using the under-utilized EMAIL access method in the SAS FILENAME statement.

Enhancing and rendering reports with the HTML and HTML5 ODS destinations

The third innovation Parker discussed showed how to use the new level 3 CSS to enhance the actions of the ODS HTML5 destination. Parker provided step-by-step instructions on how to add video and audio to a file using the ODS HTML5 destination; how to use the new STREAM procedure in the process of your web development; and how to use the ODS layout feature with the ODS HTML and ODS HTML5 destinations.

Using the new SAS® 9.4 features with the ODS Excel destination in practical applications

Beginning in the first maintenance releases for SAS 9.4, ODS destination generates output in the native 2010 Microsoft Excel format, which is the XML Open Office format. “The Excel destination includes new features such as CSS advanced techniques and the use of two new procedures, ODSTEXT and ODSLIST,” Parker said. “Using Excel destination and these new capabilities, you can now take full advantage of the ODS Report Writing Interface to create highly customized reports in an object-oriented language that is fully integrated with ODS."

Conclusion

Staying relevant in the business world is easy when you have the right tools,” Parker said. “The SAS Output Delivery System has a number of very powerful tools from the capabilities of CSS style engine and the strengths of HTML or HTML5 to the ability to generate powerful reports and outstanding output in email with the new SAS 9.4 ODS destinations. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a great day to be a SAS user!”

Details on how to implement these strategies can be found in Parker’s Paper: Staying Relevant in a Competitive World: Using the SAS® Output Delivery System to Enhance, Customize, and Render Reports.

View full MWSUG 2015 proceedings.

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About Author

Larry LaRusso

Principal Communications Specialist at SAS

Larry LaRusso is the editor of the SAS Tech Report and SAS Learning Report newsletters and the SAS Users, Learning Post and Analytics U blogs. He has worked at SAS since 2000 in marketing, communications, customer experience and management roles for both the Education Division and External Communications. You can follow him on Twitter @lalaru102.

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