SAS – How to Export/Import packages

It’s also possible to import/export metadata with the Wizard equivalent

My team and I have been developing a solution which involves a degree of SAS reports and related metadata. I set up a scheduled, automated backup of our information maps, reports, etc for posterity, and out of general paranoia. For this I used SAS’s command line export and import capabiltiies, which probably weren’t designed to be used that way, but which turned out to be really useful.

It took a wee bit of trial and error, so I thought I’d document it here.

(Handy reference link)

Note: If you’re puttying into your SAS server, make sure that your putty session has “Enable X11” ticked.


(Ignore any new lines in the text below – I’ve added those for readability)

/usr/local/SASHome/SASPlatformObjectFramework/9.3/ExportPackage -host “mysasmachine” -port 8561 -user myuser@saspw -password mypassword -package “myPackage.spk” -objects “/Shared Data/mySourceFolder(Folder)” -includeDep -subprop

  •  includeDep means that all objects that the export depends on are also exported
  • You can also specify “-types” with the types of files you wish to export
  • Without specifying “(Folder)” on mySourceFolder, all files will be exported “flat” i.e. without their folder hierarchy


 /usr/local/SASHome/SASPlatformObjectFramework/9.3/ImportPackage -host “mysasmachine” -port 8561 -user myuser@saspw -password mypassword -package “myPackage.spk” -target “/Shared Data/myTargetFolder(Folder)”  -subprop myPackage.subprop

  •  Without specifying “(Folder)” on myTargetFolder it would create a new folder with the name of the old parent folder in the new parent folder (e.g. /myTargetFolder/mySourceFolder)

Converting custom date formats in SAS Information Map Studio


Let’s assume you have some dates in a custom format:

  date20131007 month102013

SAS Reports need to be able to a) present dates in a human readable format and b) understand dates to allow filtering and other funky stuff.

For that reason we need a way of translating these custom dates into SAS dates.

Step 1 – Get an Information Map with a date field

Use an existing one, or see for more information on creating an Information Map.

Step 2 – Edit the Expression of your date field

  1. Open the Properties for your date field.
  2. Then on the Definition tab, click “Edit” in the “Expression Settings” section.

Step 3 – Magic

  1. Change the Type to Date so that SAS can treat it as a date field from now on.
  2. Then change the Expression Text to something like this:
input(substr(<<mytable.mydatefield>>,5,8), yymmdd8.)


What’s happening here is that we’re translating the custom date string into a SAS date using what’s known as an INFORMAT.

SUBSTR (string, 5, 8) – Takes a substring from the given string, starting at character 5, with a length of 8 characters. In other words extracting the string date20131007 month102013

INPUT (string, yymmdd8.) – Takes a string and interprets it using the informat “yymmdd8.”. That informat is provided by default with SAS. What we’re doing here is saying to SAS “Here’s a string, but I want you to start treating it as a date. So that you know which part is the year, and which part is the month etc, use this informat as a guide”. Then SAS can know that dd = 07, mm = 10, and yy = 2013.

We’ve effectively translated a string in custom format into a SAS date.

My mind is blown. Now what?

Interpreting the dates as dates means we can now make it human-friendly in our reports, and also allows us to do some excellent SAS-native date filtering.


What we specified earlier was an INFORMAT – in other words an interpretation format. What we can do, now that the date is stored as a SAS date, is specify an OUTPUT format, so that we can represent the date in a variety of ways in our reports.

  1. Go back to the Properties dialog for your date field
  2. On the Classifications tab is a “Formats” section. Change the “Format Type” to “Date/Time” and look at the available formats.

Selecting a format will take your date and represent it as a different string depending on the format you choose. Some examples:

Format Output
DDMMYY 07/10/13


We can also now use SAS to filter dates in a very cool way. For example I can now filter all records which were created in 2013, or all records created after a certain date, or on a certain date, etc.

  1. Create a new Filter and choose your date field as the Data Item.
  2. Then set your Condition to “Year to date” – this will filter all your results to only show ones where the date falls between 1 Jan 2013 and today.
  3. Click OK

A note on filtering

It’s always preferable to apply a filter at the Information Map level, rather than typing in a manual filter when you’re creating your Web Report. A filter on the Information Map will mean the data is filtered at the source, rather than decoding a bunch of information and only filtering once we get to the report level.*

* My understanding is that this is only with certain databases. Some allow optimisation by passing through filtering into the queries they make against the source databases. Still a good practice if you can do it.

How to restart SAS server

Photo by nimCC BY
Photo by nim CC BY

More detailed instructions can be found here, but below are the steps I use.

Note – All instructions assume the SAS is installed on a linux box, in /usr/local/, since that’s where it was installed on my machine.

Stop all JBoss server instances

/usr/local/jboss-5.1.0.GA/bin/ stop

Stop SAS processes

/usr/local/config/Lev1/sas.servers stop

Start SAS processes

/usr/local/config/Lev1/sas.servers start

(wait a couple of minutes)

Start JBoss server instances

/usr/local/jboss-5.1.0.GA/bin/ start

(wait about 5, 10 minutes)