Thursday, January 21, 2010

When was this report generated?

It is almost always a good idea to include in any generated output report some indication of when the report was generated. Not only does it provide context, but when viewing reports generated dynamically by, say, the SAS/IntrNet Application Dispatcher or the Stored Process server, it can also help to confirm that the user is viewing a current version rather than a version that has been cached by, say, their browser or a proxy server.

SAS provides a number of tools to include the date and/or time in the generated output. I like to include the values in a footnote and use the %sysfunc function to get the current date and/or time. And, of course, for the sake of consistency and ease of use, I package this code as a macro.

Here is a sample macro:

%macro generatedAt
(text=Generated At,

%local dt tm;
%if %superQ(datefmt) ne %then %let dt = %sysfunc(date(),&datefmt);
%if %superQ(timefmt) ne %then %let tm = %sysfunc(time(),&timefmt);

&text &tm &separator &dt

%mend generatedAt;

The macro generates text that can be used in a title or footnote statement; or even in a put statement. This version of the macro allows you to specifiy:
  • text: the text to display before the date/time
  • datefmt: the SAS date format to use for the date format. If a null/blank value is specified, the date is not included
  • timefmt: the SAS time format to use for the time format. If a null/blank value is specified, the time is not included
  • separator: the text to separate the date and time display
There are lots of other options that one could consider (e.g., list the the date and then the time or vice versa), but I've found that most of my clients want consistency and so I simply the customize the macro to generate the text to be exactly the way they want it.

Now all I have to do is include the macro call in, for example, a footnote statement:

proc print data = sashelp.class;
title 'The ever popular CLASS data set';
footnote j=right h=1 "%generatedAt";

Note the user of the j (justify) and h (height) attributes. Check out Controlling text height in titles and footnotes for some other examples of controlling the format in title and footnote statements.