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The Complete Guide to the SAS Output Delivery System

Understanding Some HTML Basics

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is a formatting language that is widely used, particularly on the World Wide Web. Browsers such as Netscape and Internet Explorer read HTML. In order to take full advantage of the features of ODS, it is helpful to understand something about HTML.

Using HTML Tags

A browser that reads HTML knows how to format the text in the file because tags in the file provide the necessary instructions. In general, tags come in pairs: a begin tag and an end tag. The browser applies the tagging instructions to all the text between the begin and end tags. In the ASCII file that contains the HTML, each begin tag is the name of the tag inside angle brackets. The end tag is the same as the begin tag except that a forward slash (/) precedes the name of the tag. For example, the following example of HTML contains two sets of tags: the paragraph tags (<P> and </P>) and the italic tags (<I> and </I>).

<P> For information on the REPORT procedure,
see <I>SAS Procedures Guide, Version 7, First 

Different browsers may implement tags differently. The way that paragraphs and italics appear on your display, therefore, depends on the browser and on the fonts available to you.

Using HTML Attributes

HTML attributes modify a tag. They may provide formatting information, or they may provide information that the browser needs to implement an HTML feature like a link. For example, the following FONT tag includes attributes that specify the face, size, and color to use:

<FONT face="Arial, Helv" size="3" color="#002288">

For information on the attributes that you can specify through ODS, see Style Attributes.

Using URLs and Filenames

Any HTML file that you create has a location in the file structure of your operating system. Anyone at your site who has access to the file system can read such a file with an HTML browser.

However, for such a file to be available on the World Wide Web, it must be available on a web server. In order for the web server to be able to locate the file, the file must have a uniform resource locator (URL). A URL provides an address on a web server that users who do not have access to the file system can find. Although the URL and the operating system's file name both point to the same file, the URL does so in a way that protects the integrity of the file system and limits access to selected files. At the same time, the URL can potentially provide access to many more people, both on and off your site, than the filename can.

For example, suppose that you have this special location in your file system where you can place any HTML files that you wish to make public:


Users with access to the file system can use this name to browse the files with a web browser. However, people accessing the files through the Web must use a URL.

Suppose, for example, that your company has a URL of Your personal files have their own local URL, preceded by the company's URL.

If your files in /rnd/users/smith/myhtmlfiles have a local URL of smithhtml, the URL that you supply for web access to a file in this location is

Note:    The URL and the file system name usually differ somewhat. This difference to some extent masks the structure of the file system from outside users. In addition, most sites have a firewall around their internal files. A firewall allows only those users whom it recognizes to access web files. Thus some HTML files on your system may be available to the public while others may be protected by a firewall.  [cautionend]

It is important to understand a little about URLs when you use the HTML destination because the implementations of links and cross references often use URLs (see HTML Links and References).

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