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SAS Visual Analytics Products: HTML5 (Flash-Free) Interfaces

Started ‎04-22-2020 by
Modified ‎06-25-2020 by
Views 7,093

(if you want to listen to music while reading this article, click here)

 

FlashWarning.jpg

 

 

As an extension to the  Flash announcement and corresponding White Paper by SAS Technical Support, this article provides details for users or administrators of the following SAS products:

  • SAS Visual Analytics v7.4 (on SAS 9.4) or prior versions
  • SAS Web Report Studio (part of SAS Enterprise/Business Intelligence, aka E/BI)
  • SAS Information Delivery Portal (part of SAS E/BI)
  • SAS BI Dashboard (part of SAS E/BI)
  • SAS Web OLAP Viewer (part of SAS E/BI)

Are you a SAS Data Management user? Check out this article for relevant information on that suite of products.

 

Introduction

 

For those of us old enough to remember, the Y2K Problem came and went in a flash (no pun intended ) with much fanfare but very little problems in the grand scheme of things.  The Flash issue I want to bring to your attention may not be getting the same fanfare as the Y2K Problem, but it will definitely cause many issues if nothing is proactively done about it.  Adobe announced that it intends to end support for Flash technology and will cease to update and distribute the Flash Player at the end of 2020.  Web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge, Firefox, Safari, etc.) will discontinue and block Adobe Flash by the end-of-life date.  There will be no viable way to deliver existing Flash content ... unless your I.T. department is going to allow you to install and use old versions of web browsers.  

 

FlashDecemberCountdown.jpg

 

 

Modernization of your SAS investment

 

 

Welcome to the age of HTML5.  Previously, applications in SAS 9.4 used the Adobe Flash Player to provide interactive user interfaces.  SAS® Visual Analytics 8.x versions have had a new shiny HTML5 interface since the SAS® Viya release.  But what about customers who still need to run under SAS® 9.4?   SAS® Visual Analytics 7.5 had a new shiny HTML5 interface since the SAS® 9.4 M6 release.  The two options are outlined below.

 

 

Option #1. Full modernization to SAS Visual Analytics 8.5

running SAS® Viya 3.5

 

 

What has changed?

 

Why should you use SAS Visual Analytics 8.5 (in addition to above)?

 

  • For Visual Analytics 7.4 or prior users, it has:
    • Auto-suggest visuals
    • More MS Excel-like functionality (e.g. Hide or Freeze Columns, Column/Row level formulas, etc.)
    • Keyboard shortcuts
    • Custom organize objects
    • Date-based display rules
  • For E/BI users (in addition to above):
    • Visual Analytics 8.5 has one combined interface that can do just about everything that Web Report Studio, Information Delivery Portal and BI Dashboard can do across separate interfaces, with more and enhanced graphical, filtering, data-formula building, and object/page interaction capabilities.
    • Enterprise Guide and SAS Studio can integrate with Visual Analytics 8.5 like it did with E/BI (i.e., exchanging/sharing data).
    • Office Analytics (aka Add-in for MS-Office) can integrate with Visual Analytics like it did with E/BI (i.e. exchanging/sharing data and opening up/interacting with reports).
    • E/BI had no analytical capabilities unless you built a custom Stored Process and embedded it in your report.
    • Visual Analytics 8.5 has in-memory data architecture that’s better performing vs. E/BI data access being Disk I/O based.

Other notable features

                                                  

  • Artificial intelligence capabilities
    • Data prep auto-suggest
    • Automated explanation
    • Automated what-if analysis for predictions
    • Auto-tag correlated items
    • Voice recognition on iOS mobile devices
  • Expanded list of derived or advanced formula building (for custom calculations/aggregations)
  • Expanded geo-spatial analysis (courtesy of built-in ESRI software capabilities)
  • Integrate data-driven content from open source Java Script
  • Object and filter templates

Tips (i.e., how to modernize)

 

  • For a high-level overview of modernizing your existing SAS environment to SAS Visual Analytics 8.5 running SAS Viya 3.5, please consult this white paper and corresponding video.  A more detailed overview can be found in this blog, this community posting and this video.
  • Official web browser support is documented here.

Considerations (regarding some of the previous versions usage and content)

 

  • SAS Viya jobs mimic what SAS Stored Processes use to do.  SAS Job Execution Web Application mimics what the SAS Stored Process Web Application did.  SAS Studio for SAS Viya can facilitate the creation and deployment of SAS Viya jobs, similar to the way SAS Enterprise Guide did for Stored Processes.
  • SAS Visual Analytics Data Views mimic to a certain extent what SAS Information Maps did.  SAS Visual Analytics can recreate OLAP drill-down using hierarchies unless they contain MDX.  Converting SAS Information Maps or SAS Olap cubes to a SAS Viya-equivalent paradigm is in the works by SAS R&D.
  • If integrating SAS Enterprise Guide or the SAS Add-in for MS-Office with SAS Visual Analytics, specific versions must be utilized to co-exist (preferably the latest release of each).  Please consult this SASNOTE for more details.
  • SAS System Administration is now centralized through the SAS Environment Manager interface.

 

Option #2. Transitional modernization to SAS Visual Analytics 7.5

running SAS® 9.4 M6 release

 

 

What has changed?

 

  • Completely re-written interactive interface that looks like SAS Visual Analytics 8.x for SAS Viya 3.x.
  • SAS will provide support for stable releases as long as it can, at various levels of support, that will help customers for their business continuity. Hotfixes, security updates and any other factors that demand releasing an update on top of existing generally available releases will be evaluated and released in time.
  • The same SAS Visual Analytics App (aka Mobile BI) for Windows 10, iOS, and Android supports both SAS Visual Analytics 7.5 and 8.5.  There are periodic updates of these apps (not just feature updates but sometimes newer minimum OS support, UI/UX improvements or more support for viewer customizations).

Why should you use SAS Visual Analytics 7.5 (in addition to above)?

 

  • If you need to integrate with SAS Solutions that still run under SAS 9.4.  Examples include (but are not limited to) SAS Field Quality Analytics or SAS Fraud Management.
    • SAS Solutions that included Visual Analytics Administration and Reporting (aka VAAR) now offer the following Analytical capabilities in the 7.5 release:  histograms, box plots, heat maps, correlation matrices, forecasting and scatter plots with regression lines.
    • A full SAS Visual Analytics 7.5 license is required for network analysis, sankey diagrams (aka path analysis), word clouds (or anything text analytics), and decision trees.
  • You still need to integrate SAS Visual Analytics with data, programs, processes, systems, and infrastructure still based on SAS 9.4.

Other notable features

 

  • For a high-level comparison of SAS Visual Analytics 7.5 features to older releases as well as the 8.x SAS Viya-based releases, please consult this document.  Go to page 12 of the document “Visualization” section.
  • There are some SAS Stored Process improvements

Tips (i.e., how to transition)

 

  • Since SAS Visual Analytics 7.5 still runs on the SAS Metadata Server (and likewise is still managed through the SAS Management Console) like its predecessors, this install/config would be an upgrade-in-place or through promotion.
  • A System Evaluation and Content Assessment tool has been created to scan a customer’s deployment for potential issues that might impede an upgrade-in-place, and is available on the SAS Downloads page for the benefit of all SAS customers and partners.  Please partner with SAS Tech Support to evaluate the results of this tool.
  • If transitioning from SAS E/BI, the SAS Add-in for MS-Office can view OLAP cubes similar to how it was within the SAS Web OLAP Viewer.
  • Official web browser support is documented here.

Considerations (regarding some of the previous versions usage and content)

 

  • There are some differences in similar functionality between SAS Visual Analytics 7.4 and 7.5.
  • SAS Stored Processes with prompts render differently within a report page in SAS Visual Analytics 7.5 compared to 7.4.  A possible workaround is documented here.  Integrating report objects within SAS Visual Analytics (e.g. click on a Bar Chart) to link and pass parameters to a prompted Stored Process have different steps in 7.4 (i.e., creating a link to an external URL automatically points to the SAS Stored Process Web Application and prompts) compared to 7.5 (i.e., you have to create a manual link to a URL and supply your SAS Stored Process Web Application path and associated prompts yourself).
  • All SAS products integrating with SAS Visual Analytics 7.5 would also need to be upgraded to their comparable latest release on SAS 9.4 Maintenance 6 levels.
  • If you’re transitioning to SAS Visual Analytics 7.5 from SAS E/BI, during the transitional period you can have both solutions co-exist as described (at a high level) in this document as well as (in more detail) in this document.

 

Conclusion

 

SAS Viya 3.5 is the latest technology offering available for customers.  Moving to SAS Viya 3.5 allows you to leverage a vast scope of improvements to the platform, security updates and new and enhanced capabilities across many applications which our customers have been asking for.

 

In line with market needs and customer demands to be ready for the cloud-driven future technology offerings, SAS is moving its development efforts to the next generation of SAS Viya by providing cloud-native support for the future. This is SAS’ primary focus of development in 2020 and beyond which will benefit its customers in adopting the latest technology in a CI/CD approach. With this focus, SAS will continue to provide necessary support on SAS Viya 3.5, addressing needs for existing capabilities; however, all new development will be based on new cloud-native architecture and applications based on top of it.  Our target is always to let the customer be on the latest and greatest version of the platform/applications that are currently available as production.

 

 

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Comments

Thanks for the summary @TedStolarczyk and the choice of music! I had guessed the tune before clicking on the link... is it because I'm of the generation that experienced Y2K? 😉

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‎06-25-2020 01:55 PM
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