Tag Archives: WPS 3

Plotting Points on a Street Level Map using the Bridge to R and WPS

In the last few installments of this blog, I have shown how you can use WPS and the Bridge to R to calculate drive distances, geocode records and pull down a map from Google maps. I want to use this post to pull all this together and show how you can geocode your addresses and plot them on a street level map.

First some background you need to know about using Google for geocoding and mapping. There are limits to what Google will allow you to do with their services before they want you to start paying. You can geocode 2,500 records a day for free. You can pull down 25,000 maps a day for free. Once you start moving past these limits, there are fees involved.

One thing that you should probably start to consider is caching records locally that have been geocoded so that you don’t have to go back to the Google geocoder every time you want to plot some points on a map. I could easily run through 2,500 addresses in a day. The limitations on the number of maps is just not an issue for me. I think 25,000 maps a day is a very liberal offering for the kind of work that I would want to use the service for.

In the sample code below, I split the mapping process into two components for ease in understanding the entire process. I first geocode the file to get the latitude and longitude for each record. The second part of the process is creating a map and using the lat’s and long’s to plot points on the map. We could have put this into a single step but it wouldn’t be as clear or as flexible.

Without further ado, here’s the code using the Bridge to R and WPS.

data gasstations;
input company $1-29 address $30-52 city $53-64 state $66-67;
addr2geocode=trim(address)||', '||trim(city)||', '||trim(state);
cards;
Citgo Gas Station            5189 28th St Se        Grand Rapids MI
28th Street BP               5155 28th St Se        Grand Rapids MI
Twenty-Eighth Street C Store 5556 28th St Se        Grand Rapids MI
Speedway                     4045 28th St Se        Grand Rapids MI
Speedway                     2305 E Paris Ave Se    Grand Rapids MI
Superamerica                 2305 E Paris Ave Se    Grand Rapids MI
Shell Food Mart              3960 28th St Se        Grand Rapids MI
Admiral Petroleum            3927 28th St Se        Grand Rapids MI
Cascade C Store              4591 Cascade Rd Se     Grand Rapids MI
Friendly Food Shops          6799 Cascade Rd Se     Grand Rapids MI
Family Fare Quick Stop       6799 Cascade Rd Se     Grand Rapids MI
Cascade Citgo                6820 Cascade Rd Se     Grand Rapids MI
Dutton Fuel Mart LLC         2560 E Beltline Ave Se Grand Rapids MI
Centerpointe Marathon        2560 E Beltline Ave Se Grand Rapids MI
Shell Food Mart              2600 E Beltline Ave Se Grand Rapids MI
Speedway                     4018 Cascade Rd Se     Grand Rapids MI
Grand Rapids Gas Incorporated3214 28th St Se        Grand Rapids MI
Cascade Shell                4033 Cascade Rd Se     Grand Rapids MI
Speedway                     4665 44th St Se        Kentwood     MI
Super Petroleum Incorporated 2411 28th St Se        Grand Rapids MI
;;;;
run;


*--> Geocode the addresses using the Google Geocoder. Keep the geocoded records
     in the output dataset names locs for further processing.;

%rstart(dataformat=csv,data=gasstations,rGraphicsFile=);
datalines4;

## options(repos=structure(c(CRAN="http://cran.case.edu/")))
## install.packages("ggmap", dependencies = FALSE)

   attach(gasstations)

   library(ggmap)

   gaddress <- as.character(gasstations$addr2geocode)
   locs <- geocode(gaddress,output="more")

;;;;
%rstop(import=locs);


*--> Pull a Google map that is centered on a particular address and plot the locations
     on the map. Use the data set that was created (locs) above that contains the 
     lat and longs to plot the points.;
     
Title 'Gas Stations on or Near 28th Street';
Title2 'Grand Rapids, Michigan';     
     
%rstart(dataformat=csv,data=locs,rGraphicsFile=);
datalines4;

attach(locs)
addr <- locs;

library(ggmap)

map.center <- geocode('3960 28th St Se, Grand Rapids, MI');

 grmap <- qmap(c(lon=map.center$lon, lat=map.center$lat), zoom = 13,color = 'color', legend = 'topleft')
          grmap +geom_point(aes(x = lon, y = lat, size=3.0), data = addr)

;;;;
%rstop(import=);

The map that is created looks like this:

GR_Stations

I cropped this down a bit and got rid of the borders so that it would be easier to view on this blog. Note the black points on the map that indicate the locations of the gas stations. We could continue this exercise by plotting a label to the points with the names of the service stations but that would be a good exercise for the reader who wants to learn more about using ggmap and street level mapping.

If you want to learn more about ggmap and street level mapping, I encourage you to take a look at the following document, “ggmap: Spatial Visualization with ggplot2 – the R Journal” and can be viewed in PDF format here. What I have presented is really a quick and dirty set of examples that just begin to scratch the surface of what ggmap can do for you.

About the author: Phil Rack is President of MineQuest Business Analytics, LLC located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Phil has been a SAS language developer for more than 25 years. MineQuest provides WPS and SAS consulting and contract programming services and is a authorized reseller of WPS in North America.

Creating a Street Level Map with WPS and the Bridge to R

Creating a street level map using the Bridge to R and WPS is actually pretty easy. As in our other examples (see the two previous blogs) we again use ggmap to pull down a map from Google Maps and display it using HTML. Amazingly, this only takes four lines of R code. Here’s an example:

 

%rstart(dataformat=man,data=,rGraphicsFile=);
datalines4;

   library(ggmap)

   bp <- "4045 28th St Se, Grand Rapids, MI, USA"
   qmap(bp, zoom=12)
   print(bp)

;;;;
%rstop(import=);

The code is fairly easy to follow. We load the ggmap library that will do most of the work for us. We center the map using the address “4045 28th St Se, Grand Rapids, MI, USA”. The next line queries the map with a specified zoom level (we are using zoom level 12). Finally, we print the map using the print function.

This is what the map looks like.

b2rplt_1700486050_2_1

 

We can actually take this a bit further. Instead of using a known address, we can us a place of interest for querying and creating the map. If we replace the address in the code above with “White House, Washington DC, USA” we get a map like below.

b2rplt_1700487946_3_1

So know we have seen how easy it is to pull down a map from Google using ggmap and the Bridge to R for WPS. If you have a copy of the Bridge to R, I recommend you play with the demonstration programs to get an idea of what you can do with the software and the mapping service. It’s always fun to see what gets rendered using ggmap, R and the Bridge to R.

About the author: Phil Rack is President of MineQuest Business Analytics, LLC located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Phil has been a SAS language developer for more than 25 years. MineQuest provides WPS and SAS consulting and contract programming services and is a authorized reseller of WPS in North America.

Geocoding with WPS and the Bridge to R

 

One of the things that I truly enjoy is the flexibility of the language of SAS and how well WPS allows you to integrate the product with other services. One aspect of research, whether you are in the social sciences, marketing or some other area of study is the use and application of location data. 

I’m not talking necessarily about getting the data from your cell phone on where you are or have been, but in taking address data and using it to create a business advantage. Visualizing data on a map is important for many people but it’s often a laborious task to get all the data enhanced so that it can be mapped or plotted. Specifically, I’m talking about taking an address and finding additional information such as political districts and latitude and longitude for each address.

Using the Bridge to R and WPS, we can use R to geocode our data. In our example, we will use ggmap which was developed and written by Hadley Wickham and David Kahle. It is a truly amazing application and every time I use it, I learn something new.

In this example, I have 20 records that have the name and address of gas stations in Cascade Township which is a part of Grand Rapids, Michigan. What we want to do is geocode these 20 records to find their latitude and longitude. Below is the entire code snippet to do just that.

data gasstations;
input company $1-29 address $30-52 city $53-64 state $66-67;
addr2geocode=trim(address)||', '||trim(city)||', '||trim(state);
cards;
Citgo Gas Station            5189 28th St Se        Grand Rapids MI
28th Street BP               5155 28th St Se        Grand Rapids MI
Twenty-Eighth Street C Store 5556 28th St Se        Grand Rapids MI
Speedway                     4045 28th St Se        Grand Rapids MI
Speedway                     2305 E Paris Ave Se    Grand Rapids MI
Superamerica                 2305 E Paris Ave Se    Grand Rapids MI
Shell Food Mart              3960 28th St Se        Grand Rapids MI
Admiral Petroleum            3927 28th St Se        Grand Rapids MI
Cascade C Store              4591 Cascade Rd Se     Grand Rapids MI
Friendly Food Shops          6799 Cascade Rd Se     Grand Rapids MI
Family Fare Quick Stop       6799 Cascade Rd Se     Grand Rapids MI
Cascade Citgo                6820 Cascade Rd Se     Grand Rapids MI
Dutton Fuel Mart LLC         2560 E Beltline Ave Se Grand Rapids MI
Centerpointe Marathon        2560 E Beltline Ave Se Grand Rapids MI
Shell Food Mart              2600 E Beltline Ave Se Grand Rapids MI
Speedway                     4018 Cascade Rd Se     Grand Rapids MI
Grand Rapids Gas Incorporated3214 28th St Se        Grand Rapids MI
Cascade Shell                4033 Cascade Rd Se     Grand Rapids MI
Speedway                     4665 44th St Se        Kentwood     MI
Super Petroleum Incorporated 2411 28th St Se        Grand Rapids MI
;;;;
run;

proc print data=gasstations;
var addr2geocode;
run;


%rstart(dataformat=csv,data=gasstations,rGraphicsFile=);
datalines4;

   attach(gasstations)

   library(ggmap)

   gaddress <- as.character(gasstations$addr2geocode)
   locs <- geocode(gaddress,output="more")

;;;;
%rstop(import=locs);

proc print data=locs(drop=var2);
run;

The output that is returned from the PROC Print looks like:

                                                 The WPS System                     19:07 Thursday, November 14, 2013    1
                                                                                                                                    
 Obs          lon          lat type             loctype                                                                             
                                                                                                                                    
   1  -85.5396645   42.9127946 street_address   rooftop                                                                             
   2   -85.540616    42.913151 street_address   rooftop                                                                             
   3  -85.5308863   42.9129211 street_address   range_interpolated                                                                  
   4  -85.5678243   42.9128289 street_address   rooftop                                                                             
   5  -85.5692342    42.921498 street_address   range_interpolated                                                                  
   6  -85.5692342    42.921498 street_address   range_interpolated                                                                  
   7  -85.5685794   42.9125298 street_address   range_interpolated                                                                  
   8  -85.5700129   42.9125533 street_address   range_interpolated                                                                  
                                                                                                                                    
 Obs address                                                                                               north        south       
                                                                                                                                    
   1 5189 28th street southeast, grand rapids, mi 49508, usa                                         42.91414358  42.91144562       
   2 5155 28th street southeast, grand rapids, mi 49512, usa                                         42.91449998  42.91180202       
   3 5556 28th street southeast, grand rapids, mi 49512, usa                                         42.91427683  42.91157887       
   4 4045 28th street southeast, grand rapids, mi 49512, usa                                         42.91417788  42.91147992       
   5 2305 east paris avenue southeast, grand rapids, mi 49546, usa                                   42.92284723  42.92014927       
   6 2305 east paris avenue southeast, grand rapids, mi 49546, usa                                   42.92284723  42.92014927       
   7 3960 28th street southeast, grand rapids, mi 49512, usa                                         42.91388553  42.91118757       
   8 3927 28th street southeast, grand rapids, mi 49512, usa                                         42.91389553  42.91119757       
                                                                                                                                    
 Obs         east         west  postal_code country         administrative_area_level_2 administrative_area_level_1 locality        
                                                                                                                                    
   1 -85.53831552 -85.54101348        49508 united states             kent                      michigan            grand rapids    
   2 -85.53926702 -85.54196498        49512 united states             kent                      michigan            grand rapids    
   3 -85.52953782 -85.53223578        49512 united states             kent                      michigan            grand rapids    
   4 -85.56647532 -85.56917328        49512 united states             kent                      michigan            grand rapids    
   5 -85.56787602 -85.57057398        49546 united states             kent                      michigan            grand rapids    
   6 -85.56787602 -85.57057398        49546 united states             kent                      michigan            grand rapids    
   7 -85.56723042 -85.56992838        49512 united states             kent                      michigan            grand rapids    
   8 -85.56866387 -85.57136183        49512 united states             kent                      michigan            grand rapids    
                                                                                                                                    
 Obs street                                  streetNo point_of_interest query                                                       
                                                                                                                                    
   1 28th street southeast                       5189        NA         5189 28th St Se, Grand Rapids, MI                           
   2 28th street southeast                       5155        NA         5155 28th St Se, Grand Rapids, MI                           
   3 28th street southeast                       5556        NA         5556 28th St Se, Grand Rapids, MI                           
   4 28th street southeast                       4045        NA         4045 28th St Se, Grand Rapids, MI                           
   5 east paris avenue southeast                 2305        NA         2305 E Paris Ave Se, Grand Rapids, MI                       
   6 east paris avenue southeast                 2305        NA         2305 E Paris Ave Se, Grand Rapids, MI                       
   7 28th street southeast                       3960        NA         3960 28th St Se, Grand Rapids, MI                           
   8 28th street southeast                       3927        NA         3927 28th St Se, Grand Rapids, MI                                                                                      The WPS System                     19:07 Thursday, November 14, 2013    2
                                                                                                                                    
 Obs          lon          lat type             loctype                                                                             
                                                                                                                                    
   9   -85.556224    42.946438 street_address   rooftop                                                                             
  10    -85.50019    42.915388 street_address   rooftop                                                                             
  11    -85.50019    42.915388 street_address   rooftop                                                                             
  12   -85.499809    42.913584 street_address   rooftop                                                                             
  13   -85.583252    42.916731 street_address   rooftop                                                                             
  14   -85.583252    42.916731 street_address   rooftop                                                                             
  15   -85.583243    42.916087 street_address   rooftop                                                                             
  16   -85.570236    42.947743 street_address   rooftop                                                                             
                                                                                                                                    
 Obs address                                                                                               north        south       
                                                                                                                                    
   9 4591 cascade road southeast, grand rapids, mi 49546, usa                                        42.94778698  42.94508902       
  10 6799 cascade road southeast, grand rapids, mi 49546, usa                                        42.91673698  42.91403902       
  11 6799 cascade road southeast, grand rapids, mi 49546, usa                                        42.91673698  42.91403902       
  12 6820 cascade road southeast, grand rapids, mi 49546, usa                                        42.91493298  42.91223502       
  13 2560 east beltline avenue southeast, centerpointe mall, grand rapids, mi 49546, usa             42.91807998  42.91538202       
  14 2560 east beltline avenue southeast, centerpointe mall, grand rapids, mi 49546, usa             42.91807998  42.91538202       
  15 2600 east beltline avenue southeast, centerpointe mall, grand rapids, mi 49546, usa             42.91743598  42.91473802       
  16 4018 cascade road southeast, grand rapids, mi 49546, usa                                        42.94909198  42.94639402       
                                                                                                                                    
 Obs         east         west  postal_code country         administrative_area_level_2 administrative_area_level_1 locality        
                                                                                                                                    
   9 -85.55487502 -85.55757298        49546 united states             kent                      michigan            grand rapids    
  10 -85.49884102 -85.50153898        49546 united states             kent                      michigan            grand rapids    
  11 -85.49884102 -85.50153898        49546 united states             kent                      michigan            grand rapids    
  12 -85.49846002 -85.50115798        49546 united states             kent                      michigan            grand rapids    
  13 -85.58190302 -85.58460098        49546 united states             kent                      michigan            grand rapids    
  14 -85.58190302 -85.58460098        49546 united states             kent                      michigan            grand rapids    
  15 -85.58189402 -85.58459198        49546 united states             kent                      michigan            grand rapids    
  16 -85.56888702 -85.57158498        49546 united states             kent                      michigan            grand rapids    
                                                                                                                                    
 Obs street                                  streetNo point_of_interest query                                                       
                                                                                                                                    
   9 cascade road southeast                      4591        NA         4591 Cascade Rd Se, Grand Rapids, MI                        
  10 cascade road southeast                      6799        NA         6799 Cascade Rd Se, Grand Rapids, MI                        
  11 cascade road southeast                      6799        NA         6799 Cascade Rd Se, Grand Rapids, MI                        
  12 cascade road southeast                      6820        NA         6820 Cascade Rd Se, Grand Rapids, MI                        
  13 east beltline avenue southeast              2560        NA         2560 E Beltline Ave Se, Grand Rapids, MI                    
  14 east beltline avenue southeast              2560        NA         2560 E Beltline Ave Se, Grand Rapids, MI                    
  15 east beltline avenue southeast              2600        NA         2600 E Beltline Ave Se, Grand Rapids, MI                    
  16 cascade road southeast                      4018        NA         4018 Cascade Rd Se, Grand Rapids, MI                                                                                   The WPS System                     19:07 Thursday, November 14, 2013    3
                                                                                                                                    
 Obs          lon          lat type             loctype                                                                             
                                                                                                                                    
  17  -85.5879549    42.912112 street_address   rooftop                                                                             
  18   -85.569238    42.948355 street_address   rooftop                                                                             
  19  -85.5499342   42.8836312 street_address   range_interpolated                                                                  
  20   -85.607639    42.912997 street_address   rooftop                                                                             
                                                                                                                                    
 Obs address                                                                                               north        south       
                                                                                                                                    
  17 3214 28th street southeast, grand rapids, mi 49512, usa                                         42.91346098  42.91076302       
  18 4033 cascade road southeast, grand rapids, mi 49546, usa                                        42.94970398  42.94700602       
  19 4665 44th street southeast, kentwood, mi 49512, usa                                             42.88497343  42.88227547       
  20 2411 28th street southeast, grand rapids, mi 49512, usa                                         42.91434598  42.91164802       
                                                                                                                                    
 Obs         east         west  postal_code country         administrative_area_level_2 administrative_area_level_1 locality        
                                                                                                                                    
  17 -85.58660592 -85.58930388        49512 united states             kent                      michigan            grand rapids    
  18 -85.56788902 -85.57058698        49546 united states             kent                      michigan            grand rapids    
  19 -85.54858527 -85.55128323        49512 united states             kent                      michigan            kentwood        
  20 -85.60629002 -85.60898798        49512 united states             kent                      michigan            grand rapids    
                                                                                                                                    
 Obs street                                  streetNo point_of_interest query                                                       
                                                                                                                                    
  17 28th street southeast                       3214        NA         3214 28th St Se, Grand Rapids, MI                           
  18 cascade road southeast                      4033        NA         4033 Cascade Rd Se, Grand Rapids, MI                        
  19 44th street southeast                       4665        NA         4665 44th St Se, Kentwood, MI                               
  20 28th street southeast                       2411        NA         2411 28th St Se, Grand Rapids, MI                           
                                                                                                                

About the author: Phil Rack is President of MineQuest Business Analytics, LLC located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Phil has been a SAS language developer for more than 25 years. MineQuest provides WPS and SAS consulting and contract programming services and is a authorized reseller of WPS in North America.

Calculating Driving Distances with WPS and the Bridge to R

A few weeks ago, there was a posting on SAS-L where the poster was attempting to get the driving distance between two cities using google’s mapping services. I found that a rather interesting question and decided to see what I could do using WPS and the Bridge to R.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Bridge to R, it is a product from MineQuest Business Analytics that allows you to execute R statements from within the WPS environment. You can pass WPS datasets to R and return R frames to WPS quite easily. You also get the R log and list files returned to your WPS session in the corresponding log and list windows.

Here is the code that we used to create a driving distance matrix between three cities. The output is printed using the PROC Print statement in WPS. 

*--> data set for drive distances;
data rdset;
input fromdest $1-17 todest $ 20-36;
cards;
Grand Rapids, MI   State College, PA
Columbus, OH       Grand Rapids, MI
Chicago, IL        Grand Rapids, MI
;;;;
run;


%Rstart(dataformat=csv,data=rdset,rGraphicsFile=);
datalines4;

    attach(rdset)
    library(ggmap)

    from <- as.character(fromdest)
    to  <- as.character(todest)

    mydist <- mapdist(from,to)

;;;;
%rstop(import=mydist);

proc print data=mydist(drop=var2);
format m comma10. km comma 8.2 miles 8.2 seconds comma7. minutes comma8.2 hours 6.2;
run;

And this is the output:

      Obs    from                  to                              m          km       miles    seconds     minutes     hours       
                                                                                                                                    
       1     Grand Rapids, MI      State College, PA         843,978      843.98      524.45     28,256      470.93      7.85       
       2     Columbus, OH          Grand Rapids, MI          521,289      521.29      323.93     17,543      292.38      4.87       
       3     Chicago, IL           Grand Rapids, MI          285,836      285.84      177.62      9,695      161.58      2.69       
                                                                                                                             

So you can see how handy WPS and the Bridge2 to R can be as a resource – kind of a Swiss Army knife if you like.

About the author: Phil Rack is President of MineQuest Business Analytics, LLC located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Phil has been a SAS language developer for more than 25 years. MineQuest provides WPS and SAS consulting and contract programming services and is a authorized reseller of WPS in North America.

Being Small Business Friendly

We recently put together a WPS vs. SAS Server Cost Comparison. Interestingly, this is one of the most downloaded documents from the MineQuest website. For the first time, smaller companies can afford to run the language of SAS on a server at reasonable prices.

Many companies however don’t have the resources, either financial or technologically to implement a server solution for their organization. And that’s OK too. Using WPS on a desktop is a great way to utilize a WPS license at a reasonable cost. So today, I want to talk about WPS on a desktop and how a smaller organization or department can implement WPS in a cost effective manner.

Being Small Business Friendly

I like to think that we are very Small Business Friendly in terms of our pricing structures. We don’t have high upfront charges to start using the product. We feel this is nothing more than a lock-in strategy and punishes start-ups and small businesses and would result in organizations shying away from using WPS.

Being small Business Friendly goes beyond just pricing. If you run an analytics consulting company and primarily find yourself involved in the B2B sector (and who isn’t?) you may be a Data Service Provider as defined by our competitor. The whole concept of being a DSP is just a ruse to extract more money out your organization.

Your customers and partners are yours. We don’t jump in and demand names of companies that you are doing business with and up-charge you for the use of the software to deliver reports and data sets created with our software. We don’t force you to sign a license agreement that demands if an existing customer drops a license that you are responsible for making up the difference. And, we don’t force you to make quarterly reports of who your customers are so that we can them market to them.

So in the spirit of good competition, I’ve put together a short pricing comparison of WPS on a desktop vs. SAS on a desktop. I used the Analytics Pro pricing from SAS because that seems to be the biggest bang for the buck in terms of pricing. I also added in two access engines to the mix. Most users would want to be able to read and write to Excel and Access as well as say SPSS. Of course, these are included in WPS but are an additional cost from our competitor.

I also included pricing from the GSA schedule. The GSA (Government Services Administration) is an organization that exists to get best pricing. According to the GSA, best pricing is at least 16% below the commercial pricing. So I thought it would be interesting to include those figures too. I know a lot of state and federal agencies read this blog so it’s informative for them to see how much money they can save if they decide to swap out SAS for WPS.

Table 1. Single License – First Year License Fee Comparison of WPS vs. SAS on a Desktop.

Desktop Product WPS SAS SAS Govt (GSA)
Analytics Pro $1,266 $8,700 $6,870
PC File Formats Included $3,000 $2,176
ODBC/OLE DB Included $3,000 $2,176
Total

$1,266

$14,700

$10,739

 

Table 2. Five User License: First Year License Fee Comparison of WPS vs. SAS on a Desktop.

Desktop Product WPS SAS SAS Govt (GSA)
Analytics Pro $6,330 $34,800 $24,468
PC File Formats Included $6,600 $4,463
ODBC/OleDB Included $6,600 $4,463
Total $6,330 $48,000 $33,394

By the way, all the prices above are readily available on the Internet. The prices shown were prices listed on March 4, 2013.

About the author: Phil Rack is President of MineQuest Business Analytics, LLC located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Phil has been a SAS language developer for more than 25 years. MineQuest provides WPS and SAS consulting and contract programming services and is a authorized reseller of WPS in North America.

Taking WPS 3.01 for a Quick Spin

I’m writing this today from the testing facilities at MineQuest Business Analytics, the center of the BI Universe. Haha! I’ve always wanted to write that as an opening line.

Anyway, I finally installed the latest GA release of WPS v3.01 on all the machines here. It took me a little while to setup all the configuration files so that WPS will use the optimal disk array for work among other things. Just thinking about this, it’s probably the first time I’ve ever had the exact same release on all the desktops and servers.

I wanted to test out the WPS Link technology more thoroughly. For those folks who are unfamiliar with WPS Link, it allows your workstation version of WPS to link to a Linux server for the purposes of submitting WPS code. So, basically you need WPS on both the desktop and on the Linux server. I have WPS on a Mac, a desktop, laptop and a VM running XP. My desktop host is running Vista x64.

One thing that I do like when I’m on the Mac is that the fonts just seem nicer than on Windows. It’s just a bit more aesthetically pleasing to me. The Eclipse Workbench is available across all the platforms except for z/OS as far as I can tell. On Linux, the fonts are similar to the Mac in style but seem a bit heavier. I imagine a lot of that has to do with the platform and font support from Apple on OS X versus the Linux Open Source Community.

Interestingly, I can submit my code on to the Linux Server from all these clients and it works amazingly well. The server is a small box with four cores and only 8GB of RAM but lots of disk space. I ended up setting some options such as setting MAXMEM and SORTSIZE to a reasonable level so that everyone will play well together. Small jobs are almost instant. I’ll start testing with some large jobs next week.

I’ve stated before that sizing a server for a workgroup isn’t always easy. But with 16GB of RAM and four cores of compute power, you can run four to eight simultaneous users quite readily. When you think about the compute power you get with WPS on a server, factoring in the price versus our competition, it’s just so small business friendly and startup friendly.

Don’t forget there’s still time to get into the action to win a Google Nexus 7 Tablet. If you register to take out a WPS evaluation before September 30th, 2012, you will automatically be registered in the drawing for the tablet. Certain conditions apply so read the the earlier blog post for all the details. You can request a WPS evaluation by going to the MineQuest Business Analytics website at the WPS evaluation page.

WPS 3.01 Now GA

Just a note to let you know that World Programming has released version 3.01. If you are running any older versions of WPS, I would suggest that you install the new release because of the bug fixes and a few new procedures.

This current version contains PROC REPORT, PROC DBLOAD and PROC RELEASE (for mainframe users). There are some significant performance improvements for PROC LOGISTIC and FASTCLUS.

Also, there are three new WPS data access engines. The new databases supported include Kognitio, PostgreSQL and Vertica. There’s also support for Bulk Loading for DB2 and Greenplum.

The number of database access engines that are included in WPS is pretty amazing. SAS Institute charges dearly for database access engines and I believe that’s a problem for shops that are looking to roll out Business Intelligence across the enterprise.

With the introduction of PROC REPORT, most Pharma organizations and CRO’s can move their SAS Language code base easily over to WPS. If I was running a CRO or doing the analytics work that required FDA approval, I would be taking a serious look at WPS in lieu of of the SAS System. It’s so cost effective, it could mean the difference in profitability for a small or mid-size CRO.

Finally, there’s still time to get into the action to win a Google Nexus 7 Tablet. If you register to take out a WPS evaluation before September 30th, 2012, you will automatically be registered in the drawing for the tablet. Certain conditions apply so read the previous blog post for all the details.

About the author: Phil Rack is President of MineQuest, LLC and has been a SAS language developer for more than 25 years. MineQuest provides WPS and SAS consulting and contract programming services and is a authorized reseller of WPS in North America.

More on Disk Caches, WPS and FancyCache

Earlier, I wrote about FancyCache as a disk cache when running WPS and the performance improvements you can expect to see. There are a couple more things that come about when using FancyCache that are worth mentioning.

First, by using FancyCache you can reduce the number of writes to your SSD(s) and thus increase the life of your SSD. This is accomplished by consolidating multiple writes to the same address when you use the deferred write option.

Second, Fancycache supports TRIM which helps by avoiding writing deleted data. With FancyCache’s support for deferred writes, FancyCache removes the corresponding writes in the cache and avoids writing redundant data.

Third, for WPS users in particular, if you have a large enough cache and set deferred writes to say 600 seconds, many of your smaller datasets can still reside in the cache (as opposed to being written to disk) and with liberal use of PROC DATASETS or PROC DELETE to remove unnecessary datasets, the data is never written to the SSD. Thus prolonging the life of the SSD by minimizing writes.

About the author: Phil Rack is President of MineQuest, LLC and has been a SAS language developer for more than 25 years. MineQuest provides WPS and SAS consulting and contract programming services and is a reseller of WPS in North America.