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SAS Documentation Resources

Started ‎06-25-2019 by
Modified ‎02-20-2023 by
Views 4,681

This article was rewritten Feb 20th 2023 to reflect some product name changes, to update screen captures, and to accurately reflect the latest SAS Help Center enhancements.

 

I am part of the team that writes the documentation for SAS. I wanted to give you a few useful tips for getting the most out of the documentation.

 

Where to find the documentation

This page provides links to the most popular SAS documentation and a mechanism for searching. Of course, you can access the documentation from the software. The link normally looks something like this: 

SimonMcGrother_0-1676914980205.png

Entering the SAS Help Center from the software has a couple of advantages: 

  1. You always come to the appropriate version of the software.
  2. Your entry point is a carefully crafted landing page that will guide you as to the scope and content of the documentation that you have loaded. 

 

Searching

OK, so you’re in the documentation—what now? Those tables of contents can be long. How are you going to find what you need?

One recommendation is to use the Search function. Let’s use the 2022.09 SAS Viya Platform Administration Guide as an example. If you need information about backups, enter “backup” in the search bar.

 

You should get 113 results. Here is a partial listing of the results (for this discussion, I have added a few labels in red):

SimonMcGrother_1-1676915186849.png

 

Let’s break down the search hits (A). They are sorted by relevance and represented by the topic title (for example, Backup and Restore: Perform an Ad Hoc Backup), followed by the specific document that contains this search hit. Note that almost all SAS documentation is viewed as collections of more granular documents. In this case, the first few hits are all from the Backup and Restore guide. 

 

But let’s imagine you are trying to perform a migration and want to know how to backup as part of the migration process. This is where the filter area (B) can help you. The filter lists all the guides that make up this collection. Scroll down and select Full-System Migration. This narrows down the hits to just 3, and they are all in the Full-System Migration Guide. 

 

The last thing to note is that if you had not obtained the results that you were looking for, there’s a simple way to broaden the search. Click the link labeled C to search not just the Admin docs, but all SAS documentation for the same term. I use that trick all the time. 

 

Other Useful Features

 

Changing Languages

Generally, the Help Center will honor your browser’s locale settings. The menus of SAS Help Center should be in your preferred language, and the content will be displayed in your language unless it has not been translated, in which case it will default back to English.  

However, note that if you follow a hyperlink that includes a locale, for example:
https://documentation.sas.com/doc/
en/sasadmincdc… 
this locale will take precedence over your browser preference. If you know the two-character code for your preferred language, you can manually modify the URL. 

 
At the bottom of the Help Center window is the Language selector. Click it to get a list of the languages that the current document is available in. Here is an example from the SAS Studio documentation: 

SimonMcGrother_2-1676915445370.png

Select the language of your choice. A new tab (or window) opens with the current document in the chosen language, and additionally, the Help Center menus will also be in the chosen language. Within a document collection, the individual documents might not have all been translated into the same languages. 

 

Changing Versions

There is also a Version selector that enables you to rapidly switch between versions of the docs. It’s located in the main banner, after the document title. Here is an example from the SAS Viya Platform Administration guide: 

 

SimonMcGrother_3-1676915577647.png

Click the version that you want to use. The content reloads for the chosen version.

Note that if you access a page that corresponds to a version that is no longer fully supported you get a warning message:

SimonMcGrother_4-1676915647821.png

Follow the link to go to the most up-to-date version of that page, or use the version selector to make your own choice. To reiterate, if you use the Help Center link in your software, you always land in the corresponding version of the documentation. 

 

Thanks for reading. I hope this article helps you get the most out of SAS documentation. I would love to hear your feedback.

Comments

Excellent tips - thanks for sharing @SimonMcGrother!

Thanks @MichelleHomes 

I wish I had done it ages ago.

Thanks for the explanation @SimonMcGrother , this is very helpful. I am now digging into Viya 3.5 documentation and its become cumbersome as compared to Viya 3.4 doc : I have been unable to extract a complete PDF file for the Administration guide, there is a top-level reference (?) missing somewhere perhaps. As a workaround, I could only download the Admin guide section by section ( see screencopy below) : there must be a better way to do it ?

 

3.5 :

https://documentation.sas.com/?cdcId=calcdc&cdcVersion=3.5&docsetId=calwlcm&docsetTarget=home.htm&lo...

 

3.4 :

http://support.sas.com/documentation/onlinedoc/viya/3.4/AdminDoc34.pdf

 

 

 

Capture.PNG

Hey @ronan 

The combined PDF that you see for 3.4 became quite the maintenance headache and so was dropped for 3.5. Each chapter has an independent existence and the writer can refresh to fix bugs or improve wording whenever they needed to.

So we have come up with a solution that might work better for everyone.

https://documentation.sas.com/download?softwareId=administration&softwareVersion=3.5

Takes you to a page where you can pick and choose which of the 3.5 PDFs you want to download. It will zip them up and you can extract them wherever you like.

It's not quite the combined PDF, because they are still individual chapters. But you can, for example, search across them using Acrobat's search tools. 

There is one additional factor, they are password protected to prevent editing and merging. I am looking into whether we can remove that protection so that you would be able to recombine your own filtered list of PDFs into an overall guide. 

One last word of caution. At the instant that you download the PDFs they will be up to date. But as I mentioned, these get revved pretty often. It behooves you to sporadically refresh your download.

I hope this helps and I'd love to hear your feedback on the experience.

Thank you for replying so quickly. I understand the concatenation/reconciliation process is proving difficult since revisions are occuring more often. I am fully aware that the PDF static format is a bit outdated with Webdoc now the de facto standard but I am so used to it ... The form you provided is working like a charm, this is very handy to use especially with the TOC html file, thanks a lot ! 🙂 . May I suggest an improvement in the future for this form: 

 

- allowing to concatenate small single files into combined PDF files on the fly grouped by the top entries ? 

 

Administration_3.5.zip /

 

 - sasviya35_Content.PDF

- sasviya35_Data.PDF

- ...

- sasviya35_Admin.PDF

 

As it is, it's fine with me. 

Hey @ronan 

It is a good idea. It would be dependent on the removal of the password protection - because we'd want to build them on the fly (to ensure that we're picking up the latest versions). And once I have removed those passwords, then you as the downloader would be able to merge whichever files you want....so maybe it's easier to leave it in your hands?

There is a slight ripple here, because this PDF download page was developed primarily as a solution to customers who work in restricted locations - with no internet connection. They download the PDFs and put them somewhere locally accessible. When they click the help button in the software we look for the PDF and load that instead of Help Center. That trick relies on the PDFs not being merged as its keying off the filenames.

So if we did do it, we'd have to tell such users to not utilize that function.

For all these reasons I'm hoping that just removing the password and letting you do whatever you want would be the best solution. That being said I'll certainly pitch your idea to the improvements committee here and see what they think.

Best

Simon

 Thank you so much for these details.

Do you use an automated process for generating the PDFs (and web pages) from the source documents? If so, everything should be kept up to date automatically. We use some software to generate our help which has this capability, although we don't use the automation.

@Peter_L 

Thanks for the suggestion. The individual PDFs are indeed generated automatically whenever a writer publishes new content. The challenges described above centered around two things:

  1. the combined PDF which we maintained for SAS Viya 3.4.
  2. The PDFs that you can download from https://documentation.sas.com/download?softwareId=administration&softwareVersion=3.5 

The combined PDF (#1) could not be generated automatically (or at least not without a disproportionate amount of tooling work) and the maintenance was just not cost-effective. So it was abandoned for 3.5

 

The PDFs that you can download from the above link (#2) are always perfectly up to date. But because you've downloaded them, we cannot keep your local versions fresh. We're relying on you to update your downloads regularly.
The problem is not that severe. The admin guide comprises ~25 documents and I think we've only had ~5 updates in 2020. So if you downloaded on January 1st, ~80% of your PDFs are still up to date. But we republish to fix bugs and issues, so it is important for you to have the latest content.

 

Thanks again for reaching out

Simon

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‎02-20-2023 01:30 PM
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