SAS FSP or Excel - Which do you use for data entry?

Occasional Contributor
Posts: 7

SAS FSP or Excel - Which do you use for data entry?

Hi - I'd like to teach my graduate programming students the best way to set up a table for easy data entry.

I'm not convinced that it's worth teaching them FSP in favor of teaching Excel that has easier field delimiting with importing into SAS.

Any suggestions and comments are welcome.

Thank you!


Trusted Advisor
Posts: 2,113

SAS FSP or Excel - Which do you use for data entry?

Since these are programming students, you might want to use a relational database product (Access, say).  One can program a lot more integrity into the data that way.

Excel is ubiquitous and students probably already have it and know how to use it.  Even if they do not use it for their own data, they will eventually see data come in that way.

There are some real gotcha's in Excel that you don't have in FSP or an relational database.  They can screw up the data royally.  Two that are particularly insidious are

  • leading blanks in dates (they come to SAS as nulls)
  • embedded carriage returns.

Doc Muhlbaier


Posts: 7,362

SAS FSP or Excel - Which do you use for data entry?

I would include one or more relationtional database products, but I would use one that they are likely to confront in the real world these days such as SQL Server or Oracle.

However, I would also include Excel so that they can see, first hand, the various problems they might confront and how they can get around some of them.

Frequent Contributor
Posts: 104

Re: SAS FSP or Excel - Which do you use for data entry?

Equip them to handle the real world.

All possible sources: excel, database, CSV, flat files, varying format text files,...

Show them files with checksum and counts in first row and/or last row.

Show them files with varying occurence of sub-segments within a record.

The more they know this, the less shocked they would be in the real world at all the silly crap and mess and idiotic data structure they have to face.

Valued Guide
Posts: 2,174

Re: SAS FSP or Excel - Which do you use for data entry?


I wish I could recommend FSP, but your students are unlikely to find much opportunity to use it.

Despite (and perhaps because of) all the problems that occur I recommernd excel : show how a libname statement provides (almost) seamless access to excel named ranges as tables in SAS.

(they will never create troublesome data once they find out how easily range names are accessible through the libname statement, provided they keep their creative urges in excel, under control)

I like FSP very much as a user-interface that enables and reuses user-customisation of the interface (and by users, I mean non-programmers and non-developers).

I cannot recommend FSP because it seems to have slipped "off-message" at SAS: won't work in enterprise guide, nor DI studio nor portal  (in fact, nowhere except a desktop licence for base SAS and SAS/FSP) Smiley Sad

So I say, go with excel. (and SAS/ACCESS® Interface to PC Files).


Occasional Contributor
Posts: 7

Re: SAS FSP or Excel - Which do you use for data entry?

Thanks, Peter, DLing, Arthur and Doc@Duke for the helpful advice.

I've asked SAS Corporate and SAS Tech about including FSP on EG, but my request has fallen on deaf ears.

Our school uses RedCap as well, and there's been a lot of emphasis to have students use it.

Based on your collective advice, I'll have the students work in Excel, and RedCap as a second source for those anticipating server-only data.


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