My diary of software development

It’s been well over a week since I wrote about battling the SAS BI Web Services for .Net beast and a lot has changed. A week or so ago I was pretty sure that I had gotten it installed and was dealing with problems created by configuration issues. I have since found out that I did not have it installed correctly and through the course of the last 10 days SAS sent me 3 additional plan files, the last of which still didn’t work correctly.

I’ll recap what I’m doing. I’m trying to get SAS BI Web Services for .Net installed and working so that I can work on the bigger picture of my project which is to document how to call these web services from a .Net web application. Installing SAS is like building the bay bridge from a bucket (a really big one) of nuts and bolts and cables and other stuff. The full installation for all of the SAS components encompasses dozens and dozens of CDs. So you install SAS in almost any permutation of components but the specific permutation which I need is the one which enables me to use SAS BI Web Services for .Net. The ‘plan’ file which I spoke of above is basically the blueprint to the bridge. It is an XML file which is fed into the SAS installer to tell it which components to install in what order and how to configure them.

Dissecting a SAS installation plan file

I’m still trying to get a working plan file from SAS. I have a ticket open with them to get a plan file with which I can install SAS BI Web Services for .Net plus all the other needed components. But to date, I haven’t received a working plan file. I am now in receipt of the 5th plan file but it doesn’t work and so I’m currently awaiting the 6th one. SAS does not support user modifications of a plan file, they only support plan files from SAS Support or a dedicated account rep. Well, I don’t have a dedicated account rep and I’m still waiting on a good plan file from SAS so last week I set about creating my own. And I succeeded. But I’m not telling SAS because with all of the complexity of SAS, I may have missed something so I’m going to wait on a blessed and ordained plan file from SAS rather than my own creation.

I took a look at the XML plan file to see what it looked like and I found that the plan file’s contents really don’t look that complicated; there are 3 basic types of information in it:

  1. Component section. These are sections which identify a component (e.g. SAS Web Infrastructure Client) and give it a unique ID within the plan file.
  2. The properties section of a component section. Properties are sequentially numbered within the whole plan file so if a new component section is inserted; all properties in the entire file need to be renumbered. These properties for the most part have identical names and values between sections. There are a couple of components which have different props but overall, they’re the same for each component section.
  3. References to other components. This seems to be the way dependencies between components are defined. Here is an example of the first 3 types of information:
    1. Plan1
  4. Some components are hierarchically children of other components. I *think* that is because the parent component is dependent on the child but then again, number 3 above seemed to indicate.  Here is an example:
    1. Plan2

I now have a working installation of SAS BI Web Services for .Net but, like I said, I’m keeping my ticket open with SAS until I get an official one from SAS because I probably missed something.

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