By Dr. Karl Ho, Research and Statistical Support Services Manager
Data Capability: Reading OSIRIS data in SAS
What if you had a pal from somewhere on planet earth and he just handed you a mainframe tape carrying some old-time data sets created two decades ago? The label reads: OSIRIS data. You start a journey to infinity and beyond since probably it will head nowhere. Then, SAS comes to the rescue and becomes your Buzz Lightyear. You realize, once again, that learning SAS really is worth your while.
The OSIRIS data format
The OSIRIS data format was a popular data format for IBM mainframe in the old days when SAS and SPSS were in their budding stage. OSIRIS data comes with special electronic codebooks and dictionary files readable by the OSIRIS statistical software. An OSIRIS dictionary is a file that contains information to read the separate OSIRIS data file. In most cases, these are the "Type 1" dictionaries, which are in a binary format and written in EBCDIC (Extended Binary Coded Decimal Interchange Code), the mainframe character coding parallel to ASCII in PC. OSIRIS "Type 5" dictionaries are character format files.
SAS has built-in data engines that read in OSIRIS (Type I) data and other old data formats such as BMDP (a Biostatistics program, currently under SPSS). There are two ways of reading OSIRIS data into SAS: PROC CONVERT and OSIRIS data engine.
Converting an OSIRIS data file into SAS in the UNIX environment
In the following, I give an example of converting an OSIRIS data file into SAS in the UNIX environment. Once the data file is in SAS, you can convert it into another format such as SPSS and Excel.
Data capability is the name of the game.
Data capability of SAS is the main selling point of the software, parallel to its portability and availability of the software in large number of operating platforms. Worth the time and money? I think so, until we have a unified format for all data, which in my humble opinion will be in the ultimate remoteness beyond the universe. At this point, I am still a petite, happy SAS programmer.
For those of you who are in a panic over the expiration messages in SAS, lay back and relax. We will have the mainframe and UNIX license updated by the end of November. For Windows and Mac users, the license will last till February 1, 2002.
Happy Turkey Day.