Google Chrome Kills Excel DDE

As part of my job at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, I work with SAS, a popular statistical software package. Well, like many real programs that still exist today, SAS uses Microsoft's ancient DDE protocol to allow one to automate Excel and send data to excel. SAS and Excel actually make a great statistical reporting duet that we use often here.

Anyway, I currently maintain a set of SAS scripts that manipulate and analyze the data via SAS, open a report template, export that data to a Excel via DDE, and then save the report to a folder. These scripts, which were originally developed by others, have been working for years and save us a lot of time, obviating the need to manually cut and paste statistics from SAS output to Excel files. (For those who use SAS, here is a great whitepaper on using SAS, DDE, and Excel.)

Anyway, I don't use these scripts as often anymore but needed to a month ago and damn they wouldn't work. Today, I went to use them again, and SAS and Excel freeze and require me to kill the SAS process. So I spent half the day fiddling around trying to make the damn thing work, constantly simplifying the problem but without success. Then, I ran across this post using Google that implicates a recent (sometime in 2011) update of the Google Chrome browser.

So if Chrome (my default browser of late) is running when I try to run the SAS script, the DDE part of the script fails hard and SAS locks up. But if I close all instances of Chrome before I run the script, all is well.

Hoping this gets fixed soon, but in the mean time, I know now to kill Chrome prior to using SAS or any other program that uses DDE.

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