Presenting more than one plot on a page using SAS ODS PDF

If you had asked me about getting two or more graphs on a page using SAS/GRAPH procedures, I might have suggested PROC GREPLAY as the means to achieve it. However, I recently came across another way to do the same thing by using ODS. It helped that the graphs were being produced using the PDF destination because I don’t think that what follows will work with the RTF one.

For this three plots on a page example, I first set the orientation to landscape so that the plots can be arranged side by side in a single row:

options orientation=landscape;

Next, the PDF destination was opened with page breaks turned off for the required output file using the STARTPAGE option:

ods pdf file=”c:\test.pdf” startpage=off;

The listing destination was turned off as well since it is not needed:

ods listing close;

With that complete, a page or region break gets inserted. This could have been repeated before every procedure to get it popped into the next region on the page but that is the default behaviour for any extra procedural step so it wasn’t needed.

ods pdf startpage=now;

Then, the ODS LAYOUT feature is started so that the layout can be defined on the page:

ods layout start;

For the first plot and the one at the left of the triptych, a region was defined absolutely (grid layouts are available but I didn’t make use of them here) using ODS REGION. Since all plots were to be of the same size, the width was defined as being a third of the page and the bottom left hand corner of the region defined to be the same as that of the plot area on the page. Titles and footnotes usefully lie outside this region in the way that SAS arranges things so there is no further messing. With the region define, it’s a matter of running the required SAS/GRAPH procedure. In my case, this was GPLOT but I am certain that others would work as well. The height was defined as the full possible plot height. This could have a use if I wanted more than one row of graphs on a page with a trellis plot being an example of that sort of arrangement.

ods region x=0pct y=0pct width=33pct height=100pct;

<< SAS/GRAPH Procedure >>

For the middle plot, the starting position is moved a third of the way along the page while the section area has the same dimensions as before. Using percentages in these definitions does make their usage easier.

ods region x=33pct y=0pct width=33pct height=100pct;

<< SAS/GRAPH Procedure >>

Lastly, the right-hand plot has a starting position two-thirds of the width of the page and the other dimensions are as per the other panels:

ods region x=66pct y=0pct width=33pct height=100pct;

<< SAS/GRAPH Procedure >>

With the last graph created, it is time to close ODS LAYOUT and the PDF destination. Then, the listing destination is reopened again.

ods layout end;
ods pdf close;
ods listing;

Update 2012-12-08: Since writing the above, I have learned that ODS LAYOUT and ODS REGION have yet to become production features of SAS with 9.3 as the latest version. However, I have encountered an alternative that uses the STARTPAGE=NEVER ODS PDF option to turn off page breaks and GOPTIONS statements to control the regions occupied by plots. It’s Sample 48569 on the SAS website. Having a production equivalent is better since pre-production features are best avoided in production code. If I had realised the status, I would have used PROC GREPLAY to achieve what I needed to do.