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SAS Visual Analytics 8.1 on SAS Viya: Getting Started

by SAS Employee nicolemarieball ‎08-18-2017 04:17 PM - edited ‎12-14-2017 11:05 AM (3,957 Views)

Did you miss the Ask the Expert session SAS® Visual Analytics 8.1 on SAS® Viya™: Getting Started? Not to worry, you can catch it on-demand at your leisure. I’ve attached the slides as well.


Watch the webinar


See data-driven insights. Out in the open.


SAS Viya is an open, cloud-enabled, in-memory platform that delivers accurate results.


It’s also an underlying foundation for several SAS solutions, including SAS Visual Analytics. It offers data discovery and reporting through a single, easy-to-use interface.


Join us as we show you how to:

  • Explore in-memory data.
  • Present data and results in the most compelling way.
  • Create interactive reports and dashboards.

 Visual Analytics HOW.png

Here’s a transcript of the Q&A segment held at the end of the session for ease of reference.


What did you have to do to get the data in Visual Analytics?


In order for you to use Visual Analytics to analyze and report on your data, the data must first be loaded to the CAS server. There are a number of ways to get data to CAS. In my case, I imported a SAS data set using self-service import; meaning I imported it using Visual Analytics.

Some other ways you can load data to CAS, include the following:

  • creating plans in SAS Visual Data Builder; both the input and the output of the plan are CAS tables.
  • Data area in SAS Environment Manager; a SAS administrator can use this tool to load data to CAS.
  • Upload to CAS task in SAS Enterprise Guide; this task is new in SAS Enterprise Guide 7.13 shipped in November 2016. Help for Enterprise Guide is accessible within the product.
  • SAS code; this video provides an example of loading data to CAS using SAS Studio.
  • supported open languages: Python, Lua, Java; this video provides an example of loading data to CAS using Python code.


­Does the CAS server replace the LASR server found in SAS VA 7.3?­


The ­CAS server is very similar to the LASR server, with a few main differences.  Like the LASR server, the CAS server can run on a single machine, or as a distributed server on multiple machines. However, the CAS server has these additional benefits:

  • The distributed version of CAS has a communication layer that supports fault tolerance, meaning the server can continue processing requests even after losing connectivity to some nodes. This also enables you to remove or add nodes from a server while a request is running.
  • One of the benefits of CAS is the ability to handle large problems and work with data that exceeds the memory capacity of the environment. This means that when necessary, the server caches blocks of data on disk.
  • In the distributed server, the CAS server can expand horizontally. This means that if you submit a request that would take a long time (either due to large data volumes or the complexity of the request), more machines can be added as workers to distribute the workload.
  • The CAS server supports just-in-time data loading. This means that the data does not need to be preloaded to memory for users to access reports using the data in Visual Analytics. If a user attempts to access a report based on data that is not currently loaded to CAS, CAS will load it and display the report. This feature is possible because CAS knows where the source data is located and can load the data needed, as it is needed.


­How big is the table used in the demonstration?­


In the demonstration, I used a table that has information about products, facilities, and vendors for a toy company. The table has 27 columns and 1,416,058 rows.


You used hierarchies in the demonstration. How were those hierarchies created?


Hierarchies are created in Visual Analytics by going to the Data pane on the left and selecting Add  ð Add hierarchy. Then you give the hierarchy a name and specify the levels of the hierarchy. Typically the levels will range from more general information down to more specific information. This page provides more information about creating hierarchies.


I've read that you can perform drive-time analysis in geo maps. Can you explain when that can be done?


If you have enabled Esri premium services in your SAS Visual Analytics settings, you will have the option to do drive-distance and drive-time analysis. Drive-distance creates an irregular selection based on the driving distance using roads, while drive-time creates an irregular selection based on the distance that can be driven in a specific amount of time. The Enable Esri premium services option will be available only if your organization has an ArcGIS Online account. This video provides some examples of drive-distance and drive-time analysis.


Is it possible to do more detailed analysis in Visual Analytics, like build models?


Yes, if you have additional products licensed, SAS Visual Statistics and SAS Visual Data Mining and Machine Learning, you will see additional groups on the objects pane for building different types of models. This video provides an introduction to SAS Visual Statistics on SAS Viya and this video provides an introduction to SAS Visual Data Mining and Machine Learning on SAS Viya.


What is the difference between calculated items and aggregated measures?


Calculated items are created by performing operations on unaggregated data; that is, the expression is performed on each row of the data source. Then, when calculated items are used in report objects, the result of the expression is aggregated.

For example, I can create a calculated item (Profit New) that increases all profit amounts by 10%. For every row of my data source, the profits will be multiplied by 1.10 (increase in 10%). When Profit New is used in a report object, those new profit values will be aggregated for various products. 

Product Brand


Profit New

















Calculated Item.png

Aggregated measures, on the other hand, are created by aggregating values first and then performing the calculation.

A good example of this is creating Profit (Percent of Total).  You first need the total (aggregated) profits for each product and the total (aggregated) profit for all products to calculate the percent of total for each product.

Product Brand













Product Brand

Total Profit








Aggregated Measure.png


What is the difference between report prompts and page prompts?


Report prompts filter the entire report; all pages, all objects. Page prompts, on the other hand, only filter the objects on that specific page.


­Does Visual Analytics select the optimal forecasting algorithm based on historical data?­


Visual Analytics automatically tests multiple forecasting models against your data and chooses the best model based on historical trends in your data. The forecast model can be one of the following:

  • Damped-trend exponential smoothing
  • Linear exponential smoothing
  • Seasonal exponential smoothing
  • Simple exponential smoothing
  • Winters method (additive)
  • Winters method (multiplicative)


­Is it possible to add particular users to each page in a report? I would like to have a production report with a data processing quality page. However, I only want the data processing quality page to be viewable by developers and project specific analysts.


No, it’s not currently possible. You can make pages hidden, which means report viewers will not see the page (unless it is linked to). However, any analyst that has access to Visual Analytics to build reports will be able to see that page.


Is the data (used in the presentation) secured in SAS Cloud Analytic Services (CAS)?


The data we use in the presentation was imported to SAS Visual Analytics using self-service import. When you perform an import, you can specify the Caslib (in the Advanced section).







Any security that is applied to the Caslib is cascaded down to the table. Additionally, an administrator can modify security settings for the table using SAS Environment Manager.


In the presentation, we accessed the data using SAS Visual Analytics. Is this the only way to use CAS tables?


No. CAS tables are available for all SAS Viya applications, including the following:

  • SAS Studio; these videos provide examples of accessing and manipulating CAS tables using SAS code
  • SAS Visual Data Builder
  • as well as, supported open languages: Python, Lua, and Java; this video provides an example of accessing and analyzing CAS tables using Python


I’ve been told that SAS Viya is supposed to be a Tableau-like platform. Is it possible to make web-publishable dashboards with SAS Viya like you can with Tableau?­


Yes. Any report you create in SAS Visual Analytics on SAS Viya can be viewed over the web (or on a mobile device using the Mobile BI app). SAS Visual Analytics also offers advanced analytics (with the SAS Visual Statistics add-on) and statistical modelling capabilities (with the SAS Visual Data Mining and Machine Learning add-on). In addition, it is very easy to scale Visual Analytics in regards to increasing the number of data sources, the data volume, the data complexity, and the number of users to name a few. With SAS Viya, you also have the ability to leverage your existing open source investments and skill sets while employing the power of SAS.


Recommended Resources

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by Trusted Advisor
‎08-21-2017 12:57 AM - edited ‎08-21-2017 04:08 AM

Fabulous webinar @nicolemarieball! You covered a lot of material and demonstrated great features. Loved how you also showed how easy it is to build reports and explore data while pointing out many of the hidden icons too. Lots of useful tips for new and existing SAS Visual Analytics users!


Thank you,


by SAS Employee nicolemarieball
on ‎08-28-2017 10:28 AM

Thanks Michelle!  So glad you could join us Smiley Happy

by Trusted Advisor
on ‎08-28-2017 01:35 PM

I wasn't able to make the live webinar - too early in the morning here. I watched the recording.