Creating a regional map with custom polygons in SAS Visual Analytics 8.2

In my last article, I worked with an example of using custom polygon data to create a regional geo map in SAS Visual Analytics 7.4. In this article, I will use almost the same example to illustrate the ease of implementing custom polygons to produce the same regional map in SAS Visual Analytics 8.2.

In this example, as in my last blog, the site has sales data for each sales region in the US and would like to display a geo map of the regions.

The six sales regions are:

Custom polygons in SAS Visual Analytics

We will again start with the MAPSGFK.US_STATES dataset, which contains the data required to overlay all states of the US on a VA region geomap and has these columns:

As in my last post, we will add the sales regions (REGION) column and values using data step code, and then use GREMOVE to remove the state boundaries, leaving the region boundary points.  For a look at that code, see my previous blog.

The following datastep adds the necessary columns/values to the polygon dataset so that the form of the data is what is expected by VA.  Note that the LAT and LONG columns are already in unprojected form, so we just assign those values to Y and X, so our column names will more closely match what we will see in the VA interface when creating the geographic data item.   We also create a SEQUENCE column, required by VA 8.2,  using the values of the internal variable, _n_.

data mydata.regions;
   set mydata.regions;

The polygon table, REGIONS,  now has the following columns.

The dataset containing the region and measure data, REGIONSALES contains these columns:

Both datasets should be loaded into memory. Sign in to SAS Visual Analytics – Explore and Visualize Data and create a new report with data source REGIONSALES.

Create a new Geography data item from REGION as shown below, also specifying a New Polygon Provider with values shown on the next several screen shots.  Give the new provider a name and label, and specify the CAS server, library, and table name.

Scroll down to add the ID, Sequence, Segment, latitude and longitude columns.

The new geography data item, after clicking OK:

Now create a Geo Map of type Regions as shown:

Please Creating a regional map with custom polygons in SAS Visual Analytics 8.2 was published on SAS Users.


Creating a custom regional map in SAS Visual Analytics 7.4

By default, SAS Visual Analytics 7.4 supports country and state level polygons for regional geomaps. In SAS Visual Analytics 7.4, custom shape files are now supported, as well. This means that if a site has their own custom polygon data that defines custom regions, it’s possible to create a region geomap that displays those regions.

Implementing the process requires completing some preparatory steps, explicitly execution of some SAS code, but the steps are explained in Appendix 2 of the SAS Visual Analytics 7.4: Administration Guide. The SAS program that completes the steps is provided for download at http://support.sas.com/rnd/datavisualization/vageo/va74polygons.sas.

Two examples using the program are provided in Appendix 2 for US counties and German provinces. The instructions in Appendix 2 assume that the custom polygon data is provided in ESRI shape file format, which is likely the most common use-case. The site will need access to a SAS programming environment and SAS/GRAPH software, and whoever completes the process will need access to the SAS Visual Analytics configuration directory and the ability to restart services—so an administrator-type person will be required.

One common request is to provide a regional geomap, where the regions are site-defined groups of states or provinces of a country. In this example problem, the site has sales data for each sales region in the US and would like to display a geo map of the regions.

Custom regional map in SAS Visual AnalyticsFor this type of region/province example, you will likely be able to use one of the maps already provided by SAS in the MAPSGFK library to produce your region boundaries. For more information on the datasets in the MAPSGFK library, see this paper. 

The MAPSGFK.US_STATES dataset contains the data required to overlay all states of the US on a VA region geomap and has these columns:

The highlighted columns, STATECODE, LONG, and LAT will be particularly useful, but first, the sales region (REGION) column and values must be added using simple data step code. The unnecessary FIPS code (STATE) can be dropped in the same DATA step.  Note that the region values are assigned in upper case, as these will later be converted to ID values, which VA expects to be in upper case.

data regions;
   length region $ 12;
   drop state;
   set mapsgfk.us_states;
      if statecode in ('AK','HI','PR') then delete;
      else if statecode in ('WA','MT','OR','ID','WY')
         then region='NORTHWEST';
      else if statecode in ('CA','NV','UT','AZ','CO','NM')
         then region='SOUTHWEST'; 
      else if statecode in ('ND','SD','NE','MN','WI','MI','IA','IL','IN')
         then region='NORTHCENTRAL'; 
      else if statecode in ('KS','OK','TX','MO','AR')
         then region='SOUTHCENTRAL'; 
      else if statecode in ('ME','NH','VT','MA','RI','CT','NY','PA','NJ','OH','DE',
'MD','DC')then region='NORTHEAST';
      else if statecode in ('KY','WV','VA','TN','NC','MS','AL','LA','GA','SC','FL')
         then region='SOUTHEAST';

The data is then sorted by the REGION values, a requirement of the SAS/GRAPH GREMOVE procedure, which is used to remove the internal state boundary data points, leaving the region boundary points only.

proc sort data=regions;
   by region;
 proc gremove data=regions out=mapscstm.regions1;
    by region;
    id statecode;

To complete the process, since the LAT and LONG values are already in the form that VA needs (unprojected) and we are using a SAS dataset rather than the ESRI shape file format, we’ll only use a part of the code from the downloadable program mentioned at the beginning of the blog.

First, create a mapscstm directory under /SASHome/SASFoundation/9.4 to store the custom polygon dataset.  Make sure that the library is accessible to the SAS session by including a libname statement in the appserver_autoexec_usermods.sas file, found in config/Lev1/SASApp, and then restarting the Object Spawner.


libname MAPSCSTM “SASHome/SASFoundation/9.4/mapscstm”;

Tip:  Be sure to back up the original ATTRLOOKUP and CENTLOOKUP datasets before running any additional code, as you will be modifying the originals.

To complete creation of the polygon dataset, you will need to execute only a part of the downloadable program to:
• Make sure that your polygon dataset has all of the columns expected by SAS Visual Analytics.
• Add the region attributes to the ATTRLOOKUP.
• Add the region center point locations to the CENTLOOKUP dataset.

%let REGION_LABEL=USRegions;   /* The label for the custom region */
 %let REGION_PREFIX=R1; /* unique ISO 2-Letter Code  */
 %let REGION_ISO=000; /* unique ISO Code  */
 %let REGION_DATASET=MAPSCSTM.REGIONS1;  /* Polygon data set to be 
              created - be sure to use suffix "1" */

Note that the downloadable program includes additional macro assignments and additional code, but since our data is already in the form of a SAS dataset, rather than ESRI shape file format, we won’t be using all of the code.

The following datastep adds the necessary columns/values to the polygon dataset so that the form of the data is what is expected by VA.  Note that the LAT and LONG columns are already in unprojected form, so we just assign the same values to X and Y.  (VA doesn’t actually use the X,Y columns from the polygon dataset.)

   where density <= 3; 
   ISO = "&REGION_ISO.";
   LAKE = 0;
   AdminType = "regions";

Then PROC SQL steps are executed to add rows relative to the custom polygons to the ATTRLOOKUP and CENTLOOKUP datasets:

This step adds the USRegions row to ATTRLOOKUP:

proc sql;
   insert into valib.attrlookup
      values ( 
         "&REGION_LABEL.",         /* IDLABEL=State/Province Label */
         "&REGION_PREFIX.",        /* ID=SAS Map ID Value */
         "&REGION_LABEL.",         /* IDNAME=State/Province Name */
         "",                       /* ID1NAME=Country Name */
         "",                       /* ID2NAME */
         "&REGION_ISO.",           /* ISO=Country ISO Numeric Code */
         "&REGION_LABEL.",         /* ISONAME */
         "&REGION_LABEL.",         /* KEY */
         "",                       /* ID1=Country ISO 2-Letter Code */
         "",                       /* ID2 */
         "",                       /* ID3 */
         "",                       /* ID3NAME */
         0                         /* LEVEL (0=country level, 1=state level) */

This step adds a row to ATTRLOOKUP for each individual region:

proc sql;
   insert into valib.attrlookup
      select distinct 
         IDNAME,            /* IDLABEL=State/Province Label */
         ID,                /* ID=SAS Map ID Value */
         IDNAME,            /* IDNAME=State/Province Name */
         "&REGION_LABEL.",  /* ID1NAME=Country Name */
         "",                /* ID2NAME */
         "&REGION_ISO.",    /* ISO=Country ISO Numeric Code */
         "&REGION_LABEL.",  /* ISONAME */
         trim(IDNAME) || "|&REGION_LABEL.",  /* KEY */
         "&REGION_PREFIX.",   /* ID1=Country ISO 2-Letter Code */
         "",                  /* ID2 */
         "",                  /* ID3 */
         "",                  /* ID3NAME */
         1                    /* LEVEL (1=state level) */

This step calculates and adds the central location point for each of the regions to the CENTLOOKUP dataset.   The site data contains only the 48 contiguous states (no Alaska or Hawaii). If Alaska and Hawaii had been included, a different algorithm would need to be used to calculate the central location.

proc sql;
   /* Add custom region */
   insert into valib.centlookup
      select distinct
         "&REGION_DATASET." as mapname,
         "&REGION_PREFIX." as ID,
         avg(x) as x,
         avg(y) as y
      from &REGION_DATASET.;
   /* Add custom provinces */
   insert into valib.centlookup
      select distinct
         "&REGION_DATASET." as mapname,
         ID as ID,
         avg(x) as x,
         avg(y) as y
      from &REGION_DATASET.
         group by id;

After executing the code above, you will need to restart the Web Application server, so that SAS Visual Analytics has access to the new polygons.

Code is also included in the downloadable program to create a dataset for validating your results. The validate dataset includes a column for the ID and IDNAME of the regions, in addition to two randomly calculated measures.  In our case, we will instead just use our original REGIONSALES dataset containing the regional sales data.

1. Sign into SAS Visual Analytics and create a new exploration with data source REGIONSALES.
2. Create a Geo data item from State: Right-click Regions, select Geography?Subdivision(State, Province) Names. From the Country or Region drop-down list, select the USRegions region label.
3. Create a geo map visualization. Select Regions for the map style, Regions for the Geography role, and salesamt for the Color role.

Your regions should display, similar to this:

You can also include the region data item in a hierarchy with the state data item to produce a drill-down region map:

Or a bubble or coordinate map:

I hope this example has been helpful to users of SAS Visual Analytics 7.4.  In my next blog, you will see that this process is tremendously simplified by new mapping features in SAS Visual Analytics 8.2.

Creating a custom regional map in SAS Visual Analytics 7.4 was published on SAS Users.


Jazz up a Geo Map with colorful icon-based display rules

Jazz up your Geo Map or Network Analysis graph by applying icon-based display rule markers instead of color markers on the map. With SAS Visual Analytics, you may have already used display rules by populating intervals or adding color-mapped values for report objects. Now, you can jazz up your Geo Map or Network Analysis object by choosing from a curated set of icons and applying icon-based display rule markers.SAS Visual Analytics Geo Map

The set of curated icons in SAS Visual Analytics 8.2 are classified into these groups for use with icon-based display rules:

SAS Visual Analytics Geo Map
Here is an example of the display-rule icons that are available for Status:

SAS Visual Analytics Geo Map
When your mouse hovers over an icon, the name of that icon is displayed.

Applying Icon-Based Display Rules to a Geo Map

While working with a data source that included a measure for the total number of cellular mobile subscriptions per 100 in each country, I wanted to display the results in a Geo Map. Before creating the display rules, I looked at the data for the mobile cellular subscriptions for various countries, and decided that I wanted to create four display rules, each one associated with the number of mobile cellular subscriptions per 100. The icons that I wanted for my display rules were all available under Status. So here’s how I decided to set up my operators, values, and the icon style and color:

Here are the steps I followed to setup the icon-based display rules.

Create the New Geography Item

1.  In my new SAS Visual Analytics 8.2 report, I went to Objects, chose Geo Map (available under Graphs) and dragged it over to the blank canvas.
2.  From Data, I searched for my data source and added it to the report.
3.  In my data source, I highlighted the category (Country), right clicked, and selected New Geography.
4.  In the New Geography Item dialog, I entered a name for the new geographic item that I was creating: Country (Geographic Item).

Change Geo Map Type to Coordinates

5.  I select the Geo Map, go to Options in SAS Visual Analytics and scroll down to Map.
6.  By default, the Type is set to Bubbles. I change it to Coordinates (this is a requirement to create the icon-based display rules).

7.  The default size for the Marker size is 11. I change it to 14 because I would like my markers to show up slightly bigger in the Geo Map.
8.   By default, Legend is displayed for the Geo Map and Visibility is set to On. I chose not to display Legend information for the Geo Map, so I chose Off for Visibility.

Choose Role for the Geo Map

9.  I choose Roles, and I am ready to assign the geographic data item to Category. So I choose the Country (Geographic Item) that I had just created, and drag it over to Category. I now see the Country (Geographic) data role applied to the Geo Map.

Create Icon-Based Display Rules for the Geo Map

10.  I click on Rules and under Display Rules, I click on New rule.

11.  In the New Display Rule dialog, I chose <= for Operator and entered a 250 for Value.
12.  I click on Style and choose Red as the color for this display rule.

13.  I click on Icon, and I am presented with seven categories for the icons. When I hover an icon, the icon name is displayed.
14.  I click on the Significantly Lower icon and click OK.

15.  A quick review of what I just created and I click OK.

16.  I continue to create three additional display rules for my Geo Map.

Now, I have completed creating the four display rules. Here’s how they show in the SAS Visual Analytics Viewer:

17.  When all of the display rules have been created, the Geo Map displays with the colorful icon-based display rules applied to the various countries.

You’ve just seen how you can create icon-based display rules for a Geo Map. You can also create icon-based display rules for a Network Analysis object as well.

Jazz up a Geo Map with colorful icon-based display rules was published on SAS Users.


How to create custom regional maps in SAS Visual Analytics 8.2

Are you interested in using SAS Visual Analytics 8.2 to visualize a state by regions, but all you have is a county shapefile?  As long as you can cross-walk counties to regions, this is easier to do than you might think.

Here are the steps involved:

Step 1

Obtain a county shapefile and extract all components to a folder. For example, I used the US Counties shapefile found in this SAS Visual Analytics community post.

Note: Shapefile is a geospatial data format developed by ESRI. Shapefiles are comprised of multiple files. When you unzip the shapefile found on the community site, make sure to extract all of its components and not just the .shp. You can get more information about shapefiles from this Wikipedia article:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shapefile.

Step 2

Run PROC MAPIMPORT to convert the shapefile into a SAS map dataset.

libname geo 'C:Geography'; /*location of the extracted shapefile*/
proc mapimport datafile="C:GeographyUScounties.shp"

Step 3

Add a Region variable to your SAS map dataset. If all you need is one state, you can subset the map dataset to keep just the state you need. For example, I only needed Texas, so I used the State_FIPS variable to subset the map dataset:

proc sql;
create table temp as select
/*cross-walk counties to regions*/
when name='Anderson' then '4'
when name='Andrews' then '9'
when name='Angelina' then '5'
when name='Aransas' then '11',
when name='Zapata' then '11'
when name='Zavala' then '8'
end as region 
from geo.shapefile_counties
/*subset to Texas*/
where state_fips='48'; 

Step 4

Use PROC GREMOVE to dissolve the boundaries between counties that belong to the same region. It is important to sort the county dataset by region before you run PROC GREMOVE.

proc sort data=temp;
by region;
proc gremove
by region;
id name; /*name is county name*/

Step 5

To validate that your boundaries resolved correctly, run PROC GMAP to view the regions. If the regions do not look right when you run this step, it may signal an issue with the underlying data. For example, when I ran this with a county shapefile obtained from Census, I found that some of the counties were mislabeled, which of course, caused the regions to not dissolve correctly.

proc gmap map=geo.regions_shapefile data=geo.regions_shapefile all;
   id region;
   choro region / nolegend levels=1;

Here’s the result I got, which is exactly what I expected:

Custom Regional Maps in SAS Visual Analytics

Step 6

Add a sequence number variable to the regions dataset. SAS Visual Analytics 8.2 needs it properly define a custom polygon inside a report:

data geo.regions_shapefile;
set geo.regions_shapefile;

Step 7

Load the new region shapefile in SAS Visual Analytics.

Step 8

In the dataset with the region variable that you want to visualize, create a new geography variable and define a new custom polygon provider.

Geography Variable:

Polygon Provider:

Step 9

Now, you can create a map of your custom regions:

How to create custom regional maps in SAS Visual Analytics 8.2 was published on SAS Users.


My 7 Favorite Features in SAS Visual Analytics 8.2 on Viya

In December 2017, SAS Visual Analytics 8.2 was recently released along with some fantastic functionality. Here’s the seven features that I find useful. 1 – Autosave and Auto Recovery I’ve made the mistake of walking away from a browser session with a report I was building. True I didn’t save it but to my defense I didn’t think I’d be gone so long. Inevitably the report would ... This post appeared first on BI Notes for SAS Software Users. Go to the site to subscribe or view more content.

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Relative Period Report in SAS Visual Analytics

Another report requirement came my way and I wanted to share how to use our Visual Analytics’ out-of-the-box relative period calculations to solve it.

Essentially, we had a customer who wanted to see a metric for every month, the previous month’s value next to it, and lastly the difference between the two.

Relative Period Report in SAS Visual Analytics

To do this in SAS Visual Analytics, which is available in versions 7.3 and above, use the relative periodic operators. I am going to use the Mega_Corp data which has a date data item called Date by Month using the format: MMMYYYY. SAS Visual Analytics supports relative period calculations for month, quarter and year.
The first two columns, circled in red, are straight from the data. The metric we are interested in for this report is Profit.

Next, we will create the last column, Profit (Difference from Previous Period), which is an aggregated measure that uses the periodic operators.

From the Data pane, select the metric used in the list table, Profit. Then right-click on Profit and navigate the menus: Create / Difference from Previous Period / Using: Date by Month.

A new aggregated measure will be created for you:

If you right-click on the aggregated measure and select Edit Aggregated Measure…, you will see this relative period calculation, where it is taking the current period (notice the 0) minus the value for the previous period (notice the -1).

Okay – that’s it. This out-of-the-box relative period calculation is ready to be added to the list table. Notice the other Period Operators available in the list. These support SAS Visual Analytics’ additional out-of-the-box aggregated measure calculations such as the Difference between Parallel Periods, Year to Date cumulative calculations, etc.

Now we have to create the final column to meet our report requirement: the Previous Period column.

To do this we are going to leverage the out-of-the-box functionality of the relative period calculation. Since this aggregated measure calculates the previous period for the subtraction – let’s use this to our advantage.

Duplicate the out-of-the-box relative period calculation by right-clicking on Profit (Difference from Previous Period) and select Duplicate Data Item.

Then right-click on the new data item, and select Edit Aggregated Measure….

Now delete everything highlighted in yellow below, remember to also delete the minus sign. And give the data item a new name. Click OK. This will create an aggregated measure that will calculate the previous period.

The final result should look like this from either the Visual tab or Text tab:

Now we have all the columns to meet our report requirement:

Now that I’ve piqued your interest, I’m sure you are wondering if you could use this technique to create aggregated data items to represent the Period -1, -2, -3 offset? YES! This is absolutely possible.
Also, I went ahead and plotted the Difference from Previous Period on a line chart. This is an extremely useful visualization to gage if the variance between periods is acceptable. You can easily assign display rules to this visualization to flag any periods that may need further investigation.

Relative Period Report in SAS Visual Analytics was published on SAS Users.


SAS Admin Notebook: Managing SAS Configuration Directory Security for SAS Visual Analytics

In my last article, Managing SAS Configuration Directory Security, we stepped through the process for granting specific users more access without opening up access to everyone. One example addressed how to modify security for autoload. There are several other aspects of SAS Visual Analytics that can benefit from a similar security model.

You can maintain a secure environment while still providing one or more select users the ability to:

  • start and stop a SAS LASR Analytic Server.
  • load data to a SAS LASR Analytic Server.
  • import data to a SAS LASR Analytic Server.

Requirements for these types of users fall into two areas: metadata and operating system.

The metadata requirements are very well documented and include:

  • an individual metadata identity.
  • membership in appropriate groups (for example: Visual Analytics Data Administrators for SAS Visual Analytics suite level administration; Visual Data Builder Administrators for data preparation tasks; SAS Administrators for platform level administration).
  • access to certain metadata (refer to the SAS Visual Analytics 7.3: Administration Guide for metadata permission requirements).

Operating System Requirements

Users who need to import data, load data, or start a SAS LASR Analytic Server need the ability to authenticate to the SAS LASR Analytic Server host and write access to some specific locations.

If the SAS LASR Analytic Server is distributed users need:

If the compute tier (the machine where the SAS Workspace Server runs) is on Windows, users need the Log on as a batch job user right on the compute machine.

In addition, users need write access to the signature files directory, the path for the last action logs for the SAS LASR Analytic Server, and the PIDs directory in the monitoring path for the SAS LASR Analytic Server.

Signature Files

There are two types of signature files: server signature files and table signature files. Server signature files are created when a SAS LASR Analytic Server is started. Table signature files are created when a table is loaded into memory. The location of the signature files for a specific SAS LASR Analytic Server can be found on the Advanced properties of the SAS LASR Analytic Server in SAS Management Console.

SAS Configuration Directory Security for SAS Visual Analytics

On Linux, if your signature files are in /tmp you may want to consider relocating them to a different location.

Last Action Logs and the Monitoring Path

In the SAS Visual Analytics Administrator application, logs of interactive actions for a SAS LASR Analytic Server are written to the designated last action log path. The standard location is on the middle tier host in <SAS_CONFIG_ROOT>/Lev1/Applications/SASVisualAnalytics/VisualAnalyticsAdministrator/Monitoring/Logs. The va.lastActionLogPath property is specified in the SAS Visual Analytics suite level properties. You can access the SAS Visual Analytics suite level properties in SAS Management Console under the Configuration Manager: expand SAS Applicaiton Infrastructure, right-click on Visual Analytics 7.3 to open the properties and select the Advanced tab.

The va.monitoringPath property specifies the location of certain monitoring process ID files and logs. The standard location is on the compute tier in <SAS_CONFIG_ROOT>/Lev1/Applications/SASVisualAnalytics/VisualAnalyticsAdministrator/Monitoring/. This location includes two subdirectories: Logs and PIDs. You can override the default monitoring path by adding the va.monitoringPath extended attribute to the SAS LASR Analytic Server properties.

Host Account and Group

For activities like starting the SAS LASR Analytic Server you might want to use a dedicated account such as lasradm or assign the access to existing users. If you opt to create the lasradm account, you will need to also create the related metadata identity.

For group level security on Linux, it is recommended that you create a new group, for example sasusers, to reserve the broader access provided by the sas group to only platform level administrators. Be sure to include in the membership of this sasusers group any users who need to start the SAS LASR Analytic Server or that need to load or import data to the SAS LASR Analytic Server.

Since the last action log path, the monitoring path, and the autoload scripts location all fall under <SAS_CONFIG_ROOT>/Lev1/Applications/SASVisualAnalytics/VisualAnalyticsAdministrator, you can modify the ownership of this folder to get the right access pattern.

A similar pattern can also be applied to the back-end store location for the data provider library that supports reload-on-start.

Don’t forget to change the ownership of your signature files location too!

SAS Admin Notebook: Managing SAS Configuration Directory Security for SAS Visual Analytics was published on SAS Users.


Using Date Parameters in your SAS Visual Analytics Reports

SAS Visual Analytics 7.4 has added the support for date parameters. Recall from my first post,  Using parameters in SAS Visual Analytics, a parameter is a variable whose value can be changed at any time by the report viewer and referenced by other report objects. These objects can be a calculated item, aggregated measure, filter, rank or display rule. And remember, every time the parameter is changed, the corresponding objects are updated to reflect that change.

Here is my updated table that lists the supported control objects and parameter types for SAS Visual Analytics 7.4. The type of parameter is required to match the type of data that is assigned to the control.
Notice that SAS Visual Analytics 7.4 has also introduced the support for multiple value selection control objects. I’ll address these in another blog.

Using Date Parameters in your SAS Visual Analytics Reports

Let’s look at an example of a SAS Visual Analytics Report using date parameters. In this fictitious report, we have been given the requirements that the user wants to pick two independent date periods for comparison. This is not the same requirement as filtering the report between a start and end date. This report requirement is such that a report user can pick two independent months in the source data to be able to analyze the change in Expense magnitude for different aggregation levels, such as Region, Product Line and Product.

In this example, we will compare two different Month,Year periods. This could easily be two different Quarter,Year or Week,Year periods; depending on the report requirements, these same steps can be applied.

In this high level breakdown, you can see in red I will create two date parameters from data driven drop-down lists. From these parameter values, I will create two calculated data items, shown in purple, and one aggregated measure that will be used in three different report objects, shown in green.

Here are the steps:

1.     Create the date parameters.

2.     Add the control objects to the report and assign roles.

3.     Create the dependent data items, i.e. the calculated data items and aggregated measure.

4.     Add the remaining report objects to the canvas and assign roles.

Step 1: Create the date parameters

First we will need to create the date parameters that will hold the values made by the report viewers. From the Data Pane, use the drop-down menu and select New Parameter….

Then create your first parameter as shown below. Give it a name.

Next, select minimum and maximum values allowed for this parameter. I used the min and max available in my data source, but you could select a more narrow range if you wanted to restrict the users to only have access to portions of the data, just so long as the values are in your data source since, in this example, we will use the data source to populate the available values in the drop-down list.

Then select a current value, this will serve as the default value that will populate when a user first opens the report.

Finally, select the format in which you want your data item to be formatted. I selected the same format as my underlying data item I will be using to populate the drop-down list.

Notice how your new parameters will now be available from your Data Pane.

Step 2: Add the control objects to the report and assign roles

Next, drag and drop the drop-down list control objects onto the report canvas. In this example, we are not using the Report or Section Prompt areas since I do not want to filter the objects in the report or section automatically. Instead, I am using these prompt values and storing them in a parameter. I will then use those values to create new calculated data items and an aggregated measure.

Once your control objects are in the report canvas, then use the Roles Pane to assign the data items to the roles. As you can see from the screenshot, we are using the Date by Month data item to seed the values of the drop-down list by assigning it to the Category role, this data item is in our data source.

Then we are going to assign our newly created parameters, Period1Parameter and Period2Parameter to the Parameter role. This will allow us to use the value selected in our calculations.

Step 3: Create the dependent data items, i.e. the calculated data items and aggregated measure

Now we are free to use our parameters as we like. In this example, I am prompting the report viewer for two values: Period 1 and Period 2 which are the two periods the user would like compared in this report. So, we will need to create two calculated data times from a single column in our source data. Since we want to display these as columns next to each other in a crosstab object and use them for an aggregated measure, this technique can be used.

Calculated Data Item: Period 1 Expenses

From the Data Pane, use the drop-down menu and select New Calculated Item…. Then use the editor to create this expression: If the Date by Month for this data row equals the parameter value selected for Period 1, then return the Expenses; else return 0.

Calculated Data Item: Period 2 Expenses

Repeat this using the Period2Parameter in the expression.

Aggregated Measure: Period Difference

Next, we want to calculate the difference between the two user selected Period Expenses. To do this, we will need to create an aggregated measure which will evaluate based on the report object’s role assignments. In other words, it will be calculated “on-the-fly” based on the visualization.

Similar to the calculated data items, use the Data Pane and from the drop-down menu select New Aggregated Measure…. Use the editor to create this expression. Notice that we are using our newly created calculated data items we defined using the parameter values. This expression does not use the parameter value directly, but indirectly through the calculated data item.

Step 4: Add the remaining report objects to the canvas and assign roles

No that we have:

  • our Control Objects to capture the user input.,
  • the Parameters to store the values.,
  • and the Calculated Data Items and Aggregated Measure created…

we can add our report objects to the canvas and assign our roles.

You can see I used all three new measures in the crosstab object. I used the aggregated measure in the bar chart and treemap but notice the different aggregation levels. There is even a hierarchy assigned to the treemap category role. This Period Difference aggregated measure calculation is done dynamically and will evaluate for each visualization with its unique role assignments, even while navigating up and down the hierarchy.

Here are some additional screenshots of different period selections.

In this first screenshot you can see the parallel period comparison between December 2010 and 2011.

In these next two screenshots, we are looking at the Thanksgiving Black Friday month of November. We are comparing the two years 2010 and 2011 again. Here we see that the Board Product from the Game Product Line is bright blue indicating an increase in magnitude of Expenses in the most recent period, Nov2011.

By double clicking on Board in the treemap, we are taken to the next level of the hierarchy, Product Description, where we see a the largest magnitude of Expenses is coming from Backgammon and Bob Board Games.

In these final two screenshots we are comparing consecutive periods, November 2011 with December 2011. We can see from the bar chart easily the Region and Product Line where there is the greatest increase in Expenses.

I’ve configured a brush interaction between all three visualizations so that when I select the tallest bar it will highlight the corresponding data values in the crosstab and treemap.


Now you can use date parameters in your Visual Analytics Reports. There are several applications of this feature and this is only one way you can use parameters to drive business intelligence. Using this technique to create columns based on a user selected value is great when you need to compare values when your source data isn’t structured in this manner.

Using Date Parameters in your SAS Visual Analytics Reports was published on SAS Users.


A tip for moving content between SAS Viya environments

moving content between SAS Viya environmentsIn a SAS Viya 3.2 environment two types of content can be created: SAS Visual Analytics Reports and Data Plans. For administrators, who may want to manage that content within a folder structure, there are some things to keep in mind. In the current release, both types of content can be moved around in folders, but the objects cannot be copied. In addition, SAS Viya 3.2 supports the promotion of SAS Visual Analytics Reports, but doesn’t support the promotion of Data Plans (support for Plans is coming in SAS Viya 3.3). So, what if I want to copy a report between, say my personal folders, to a production folder?

If you want copy a Report or Data Plan within an environment there is an easy way. When the object is open in edit mode you can do a Save As to save a copy to a different location in the folder structure.

Between environments, Reports can be exported and imported using the SAS Visual Analytics, when you are editing your content (Report or Data Plan) you can access a “diagnostics” window. The diagnostics window will show you the json (or xml) used to render the Report or Plan. To enter the diagnostics window use the keystrokes:

  • ctl+alt+d for SAS Visual Data Builder.
  • ctl+alt+b for SAS Visual Analytics.

In the steps below I will use the diagnostics window to save a Data Plan so that it can be loaded to a different SAS Viya Environment. The steps for a SAS Visual Analytics report are very similar.

In SAS Visual Data Builder when editing your Data Plan select ctl-alt-d to open the SAS Visual Data Builder Diagnostics window. The source tab of the window shows the json that will render the data plan.

Click Save to save the json to a text file and close the dialog. The json file will be saved in the browsers default downloads folder.

Copy the saved text file to a location accessible to the SAS Viya environment where you want to import the plan. In that environment, open Data Builder and click New to open a new Data Plan.

Click ctl-alt-d on the empty data plan and cut and paste the json from your text file replacing the json in the diagnostics window.

Click Parse to check the json.A message should be displayed indicating that the  “plan text was parsed successfully.”  Once you have parsed the text, click Run and the plan is loaded into SAS Visual Data Builder.

In SAS Visual Data Builder, select Save As and save the plan to any location in the folder structure.

The assumption with this approach is that the data is available in the same location in both environments.

You can do much the same with SAS Visual Analytics reports. The key-stroke is ctl-alt-b to open the SAS Visual Analytics Diagnostics window.  You can see the report xml or json on the BIRD tab.

To copy a single report between environments, you can select json and then save the json to a file. In the target environment open a new report, paste the json in the BIRD tab, parse and load and then save the report to a folder. This can be a useful approach if you want to relocate a report to a different location in your target environment. The transfer service currently will only import reports to the same folder location in the target that they are located in the source environment.

I hope you found this tip useful.

A tip for moving content between SAS Viya environments was published on SAS Users.


A preliminary analysis of the Nobel Laureates

Every year in early October, the eyes of the world turn to Sweden and Norway, where the Nobel Prize winners are announced to the world. The Nobel Prize is considered the world's most prestigious award. Since 1901, the Prize has been presented to individuals and organizations that have made significant achievements in the fields of physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, world peace and literature in each year (there were several exceptions during war years). In 1968, Sveriges Riksbank established the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel, founder of the Nobel Prize. Today, individuals or organizations who are awarded Nobel Prizes and the Prize in Economic Sciences are called Nobel Laureates.

So far, more than 900 Nobel Laureates have been awarded. In this post, I wanted to learn a little more about these impressive individuals. Where were these Nobel Laureates from? Why do they get awarded? Is there any common characteristics you’ll find in these Laureates? Below you’ll find a preliminary analysis of Nobel Laureates using SAS Visual Analytics.

The analysis is based on data from List_of_Nobel_laureates, List of Nobel laureates by university affiliation and Nobel Laureates datasets at Kaggle, which definitely has some missing and inconsistent values. I have cleaned the data to correct for some obvious inconsistency as possible for my analysis.

How many Nobel Laureates have their been so far?

Recently, 12 new Nobel Laureates were awarded by the 2017 Nobel Prizes and Prize in Economic Sciences, and that makes 923 Laureates in total since the first Nobel Prize in 1901. Some Laureates share one prize, so we see more shared Laureates total in below table. While we see 27 organization winners of the Peace prize, most Laureates are individual winners.

analysis of the Nobel Laureates

The chart below shows the overall trend of annual total Nobel Laureates is increasing year-over-year, as more and more winners are sharing the Prize. The purple circle on the plot indicates that there are shared winners in that year. The average number of winners is about eight each year. Yet there was only one winner in 1916 for the Literature Prize. The most winners came in 2001, with 15 Laureates sharing the prizes. I also note from the chart that during the First World War, there were very few Nobel Prizes awarded, and during the Second World War, there were none.

Moreover, we know that most Nobel Laureates are awarded one Nobel Prize, yet I learned from childhood that the female scientist Marie Curie received two Nobel Prizes. If you search the datasets for winners awarded more than one Prize, you’ll find four scientists accomplished this feat. They are: Marie Curie, Linus Pauling, John Bardeen and Frederick Sanger.

Do Nobel Laureates live longer?

The answer is YES, per the research by Prof. Andrew Oswald from University of Warwick. Winning a Nobel prize adds about 1.5 years to the lifespan of Nobel Laureates compared to those who were merely nominated. Of course, it is not because of the monetary benefits that come with the Nobel Prize, but because of ‘the deep links between mind and body’, and that ‘happiness’ may make people live longer, which makes sense to me.

Since I don’t have the data of Nobel Prize nominees, let’s only test the lifespan of the Nobel Laureates and the ages they got awarded. The average life age of all Nobel Laureates is nearly 80, much older than the global average life expectancy of 71.4 years-old (according to World Health Organization 2015). Digging a bit more, we see Martin Luther King is the Nobel laureate (Peace, 1964) who died at youngest age. He was assassinated at 39 years old. Laureates who lived longest are Rita Levi-Montalcini (Medicine, 1986) and Ronald H. Coase (Economics, 1991), who both lived to 103 years old. You may also notice that the distribution of the Laureates’ lifespan is left skewed, the Nobel Prize winners certainly live longer than most.

In addition, something more worth noting:

  • The most laureates with the longest lifespans are from the Economics and Medicine categories. The Nobel Prize winning economists live longer than other categories’ winners on average. The average lifespan of these economists is about 86 years-old, five years longer than the second category of Medicine.
  • Economics winners are winning the awards at the highest age – 67 years-old on average. More digging shows that the oldest awarded age is 90 when Leonid Hurwicz (Economics, 2007) was awarded his Prize. We see the average awarded age of Physics winners is 56, which is 10+ years younger than that of the Economics winners. Thus, we get the impression that economists need more time to have outstanding achievements.
  • If we compare the time span between Laurates’ average awarded ages and their lifespan, the Physics Prize winners enjoy the longest life time after winning the award – about 20 years on average.
  • It is also worth noting that the Nobel Peace winners have the largest span of awarded age, about 70 years’ span. That’s because the youngest Nobel Laureates Malala Yousafzai, who got awarded of Nobel Peace Prize at 17 years-old in 2014.

The chart below is created in SAS Visual Analytics and shows the awarded ages of all individual Nobel Laureates in different prize categories. The reference line is the average awarded age of 59. It is very easy to note that no Nobel Prize was awarded during 1940-1943 due to the Second World War.

From which universities have Nobel Laureates graduated?

Next, let’s look at the educational background of Nobel Laureates. The left chart below obviously shows that much more Nobel winners hold Doctorate degrees than those of Bachelor or Master degrees. If we see the chart for Literature and Peace categories on the right, the difference is not that big. From the data, we know that the educational background of Nobel Laureates in Physics, Chemistry, Medicine and Economics categories (I call these four categories the scientific categories for easier description later) has the higher percentage of doctorate than that of winners in the Literature and Peace categories.

To learn more about the universities the Laureates in these scientific categories are graduated from, I ranked the top 10 university affiliations for the scientific categories in below chart, and their distribution among these categories, as well as the countries in which these universities are located.

The top 10 university affiliations were selected basing on the highest degree of the scientific categories’ Laureates obtained. That is, if one winner held a Master degree from Harvard University and a Doctorate degree from University of Cambridge, he/she is counted in University of Cambridge but not in the Harvard University. From the parallel coordinates plot, you may have noticed that the Physics in University of Cambridge and the Medicine in Harvard University are their greatest majors respectively. On the right, it shows the countries where these top 10 university affiliations are in United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany. The bar charts on the left show the percentage of educational degrees (Doctorate, Master, Bachelor) of each in the scientific categories (according to the available dataset). In the bottom chart, top 10 universities are ranked by their percentages. Perhaps now you have a great university in your mind for future education?

Next, I created the chart below to show the top eight countries having the university affiliations that more Nobel Prize winners graduated from. (Here the chart only shows for scientific categories, thus it excludes the Nobel Literature Prize and Peace prize.). An obvious trend we see from the chart is that the United States has the most Laureates spanning in the scientific categories after the Second World War, while Germany has more Laureates in the scientific categories comparatively before World War II.

Why do the Nobel Laureates get awarded?

Per the ‘nobelprize.org’, in his excerpt of the will, Alfred Nobel (1833-1896) dictates that his entire remaining estate should be used to endow "prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind." So Alfred's interests are reflected in the Prize, which said “The whole of his remaining realizable estate constitutes a fund, and the annually interest shall be divided into five equal parts, which shall be apportioned as follows: one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics; one part to the person who shall have made the most important chemical discovery or improvement; one part to the person who shall have made the most important discovery within the domain of physiology or medicine; one part to the person who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction; and one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

Since it’s not easy to seek evidence in the datasets that Nobel Laureates are awarded by fulfilling Alfred’s will, what I do is to use SAS Visual Analytics text topics analysis performing some preliminary text analysis of the ‘Motivation’ field in the dataset for a validation to some extent. The ‘Motivation’ is given by ‘nobelprize.org’ for why the Laureate gets awarded. The analysis shows that the most frequently mentioned word is ‘discovery’, while the most 5 frequently appeared words include ‘work’, ‘development’, ‘contribution’, and ‘theory’. And from the topics analysis result, the top 10 topics are about ‘discovery’, ‘human”, “structure”, “economic”,” technique”, etc., which are reflecting Alfred Nobel‘s will in establishing the Prize. Moreover, the sentimental analysis result shows that the statements in the ‘Motivation’ field are mainly neutral (being ‘objective’), even though there are few positive and negative sentimental statements.


I hope you’ve found this analysis of Nobel Laureates data interesting. I believe there are still many other perspectives you can analyze to get insights. Is there anything interesting you see?

A preliminary analysis of the Nobel Laureates was published on SAS Users.

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