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SAS Companion for UNIX Environments

Types of SAS Files

Different types of SAS files serve different functions. There are four different types of SAS files.

Data sets
consist of descriptor information and data values organized as a table of rows and columns that can be processed by one of the engines. The descriptor information includes data set type, data set label, the names and labels of the columns in the data set, and so on. A SAS data set can also include indexes for one or more columns.

SAS data sets are implemented in two forms:

The default engine processes the data set as if the data file or data view and the indexes were a single entity.

For more information, see SAS Data Files (Member Type DATA) and SAS Data Views (Member Type VIEW).

are a special type of SAS file that can contain multiple entries. Many different types of entries can be kept in the same SAS catalog. For example, catalogs can contain entries created by SAS/AF and SAS/FSP software, windowing applications, key definitions, SAS/GRAPH graphs, and so on.

Stored program files
are compiled DATA steps generated by the Stored Program Facility. For details on the Stored Program Facility, see SAS Language Reference: Dictionary.

Access descriptor files
describe the data formatted by other software products such as the ORACLE or the SYBASE database management systems. Descriptor files created by the ACCESS procedure in SAS/ACCESS software have the SAS member type of ACCESS.

SAS Data Files (Member Type DATA)

The SAS data file is probably the most frequently used type of SAS file. SAS data files are created in the DATA step and by some SAS procedures. There are two types of data files:

SAS Data Views (Member Type VIEW)

A SAS data view contains only the information needed to derive the data values and the descriptor information. Depending on how the SAS data view is created, the actual data can be in other SAS data sets or in other vendors' files.

Views can be of two kinds:

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Copyright 1999 by SAS Institute Inc., Cary, NC, USA. All rights reserved.