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Complaint and resignation about limitations with graphics in SAS Studio University Edition

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Contributor
Posts: 66

Complaint and resignation about limitations with graphics in SAS Studio University Edition

I've posted messages before about getting graphics looking right for publication, but I am finally declaring failure: either I have failed proc sgplot or proc sgplot has failed me.

 

If I am doing a graphic in Excel or similar package, it's easy to left-click and drag some elements, or right-click on others and select an option to make things look right.  I guess that's why, for the last 30+ years, I have always output data for graphics as text, pasted them into Excel, and produced a graph for publication, usually with the additional step of taking it into Powerpoint or other vector-graphics editor to clean it up.  I was hoping that sgplot would obviate the Excel/Powerpoint steps, but it doesn't: the menu choices for formatting are too limited, and the extra code that you need is too complicated for the casual user.  Please don't tell me it's not. You should see the voluminous and obscure code needed to make a graph with several time series of outlined symbols filled with different colors, with error bars, and with line segments connecting the symbols.

 

I am depressed about the whole thing, as I am introducing SAS Studio to my colleagues and students, but I have to tell them: sorry, you can't hope to make publishable graphs with SAS Studio.

 

Another complaint: it takes 12 seconds to create a simple scatterplot of 20 points in the Results window. Please don't tell me I need a faster laptop.

 

Is anything like Excel interactivity planned for the University Edition?  I presume there is an interactive graphics product in SAS somewhere, but I suspect it will be a no-go zone for the average university research student or academic.

Super User
Posts: 18,588

Re: Complaint and resignation about limitations with graphics in SAS Studio University Edition


WillTheKiwi wrote:

 You should see the voluminous and obscure code needed to make a graph with several time series of outlined symbols filled with different colors, with error bars, and with line segments connecting the symbols.

 

 


Post it and perhaps someone can suggest alternatives.

 

Have you considered developing macros that your students and colleagues can use if you have custom needs? You can make them as easy or complex as you need. But tbh, I can't think of a single software package that would do what you're asking for at the moment. 

 

Excel won't do many graphs at once unless you go into VBA - which is also more cumbersome. 

R is about the same as GTL IMO.

Tableau and SAS VA are nice but not what you're looking for. 

 

If you have specific suggestions or questions we can help with that feel free to ask, but this is primarily a user forum so I'm not sure what exactly you're asking for here. If you want to vent, fine, I guess it's a public forum.

 

And to be blunt - your questions convey an incredibly negative tone and it doesn't make me want to help you at all. I get that you're frustrated but the negativity isn't going to help. 

 

And again, being blunt, if a graduate or academic level student cannot figure out SGPLOT with line series, different symbols with all the examples out there, I wouldn't EVER hire them or want to work with them. Excel doesn't cut it anymore in the real working world, and the few places it does, are not going to be that way for a long time. 

 

 

 

 

Super User
Posts: 3,183

Re: Complaint and resignation about limitations with graphics in SAS Studio University Edition

Personally I think you are comparing apples with pears. Excel is designed as a point-and-click interface for developing graphics so inevitably it is easier and faster to build a graph than a coding interface like SAS Studio UE.

 

Yes it is slower and harder to do graphics in SAS Studio UE because of the requirement to code, but I thought that is part of what you are teaching students to do. It is unfortunate that you don't have SAS Visual Studio as that is point-and-click interface and produces graphics really fast, but is not really a learning tool for students.

 

If you wish to persevere with SAS Studio UE, I suggest you post a sample program (including data) so that experts on this site can help you get the output you want. It may simply be a matter of some tweaking of the graphics options. You can then re-use this template for other graphs. 

Super User
Posts: 10,874

Re: Complaint and resignation about limitations with graphics in SAS Studio University Edition

A comment about familiarity of product. You point out a process you have used for years to produce graphs for publications. When I first started using Excel after 10 years of SAS I found it practically impossible because there were thought processes (point and drag valuesO to make graphs that did not make sense to me. After all by adding a BY variable group or two I could make a separate graph for every combination of levels of data that appeared in my data (often 100's). And the only way I could do such in Excel seemed to be to repeat the exact same point-click-drag-grunt approach. 100's of times. Completely baffled my why this was considered a good way to do repetitive work as the computer is supposed to do the routine and tedious repeated tasks.

 

And "menu choices" are not the only things available. They only represent the the most basic things, such as the Excel graph templates.

Highlight data an click on the vertical bar chart. You have a basic vertical bar chart. Then, in Excel you manually go through and add/modify series, markers and such. The SAS procedures have code to repeatedly and consistently do the same the same thing.

 

The example graphic (and yes this is one image and generated as such from SAS) below is to show the comparison of attitude responses to two questions in a survey with two different subpopulations. The intensity of the dots indicates a larger number of responses in the intersection of the two questions. I have no idea how to go about doing this in Excel at all. I made over 160 of these graphs crossing multiple questions. I have a sneaking suspicion that if I could make one of these in Excel I would have spent more than month getting them all done. For instance I was working with with different levels of transparency. If I didn't like the result such as too many "dark" dots I changed 1 parameter in code and reran a test case, again and again until I got something I was happy with. Then just let the SAS code for loops generate the whole set over again.

example.png

 

Learning the code in SAS to do more complex tasks is basically the same thing as learning which bit of data to drag around, or how to set markers or series in Excel.

 

 

 

Community Manager
Posts: 2,843

Re: Complaint and resignation about limitations with graphics in SAS Studio University Edition

Two other professional-grade options from SAS:

 

 - The ODS Graphics Designer, which allows you to design sophisticated plots interactively and then provides the code for repeatability.  It's not currently integrated with SAS University Edition though.

 

- JMP software, which provides a robust set of stat capabilities and visualizations.  If you're using it for teaching or research there may be a discount available, but it's not free like SAS University Edition.

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