Susan Slaughter

Highlights of SAS Global Forum

In Enterprise Guide, Everything, Little SAS Book Series, ODS Graphics, SAS, SAS Global Forum on April 19, 2010 at 8:38 am

I just returned from Seattle where I had the pleasure of attending SAS Global Forum 2010.  It felt like a three day whirlwind of presentations and demos shared with 3,000 of my closest friends.  Frankly, there was so much going on that much of what happened already seems like a blur, but here are a few points I want to be sure to remember.

SAS OnDemand

The OMG moment during the Opening Session was the announcement that SAS OnDemand for Academics (the cloud computing version of SAS software) will be free to students and faculty for the teaching of courses starting this fall.  Everyone I talked to agreed that this is a brilliant move on the part of SAS Institute.  This will put SAS in a better position to compete with R, and will train much-needed new SAS professionals.

ODS Graphics

I’ve been excited about ODS Graphics since the last time SGF met in Seattle. That was 2003, and we had just finished writing the third edition of The Little SAS Book.  There in the Demo Room was Bob Rodriguez (the head of statistical development at SAS Institute) standing next to a big poster full of beautiful graphs and I thought, “Arrrggg, now we’re going to have to write a fourth edition!”  At SGF in 2009, there were only a few papers on ODS Graphics and as far as I know Lora Delwiche and I were the only people outside of SAS Institute to present anything on the topic.  This year there was an explosion of interest in ODS Graphics with lots of presentations by both SAS developers and SAS users.

SG Designer, a point-and-click application for building custom reusable graphs, is still experimental, but hugely promising. You can try SG Designer by submitting this statement in Display Manager.

%sgdesign;

The word is that SG Designer will be available in Enterprise Guide which should add a ton of functionality and sophistication to EG’s graphics capabilities.

Graph Template Language is a surprisingly accessible way to create graphs for folks who need features the SG procedures don’t provide.  Meanwhile, more and more features are being added to the SG procedures.

When we first started writing about ODS Graphics three years ago, Bob Rodriguez told us that ODS Graphics would never do everything that traditional SAS/GRAPH does and would therefore never replace it. As more and more features are added to ODS Graphics, that assertion is beginning to look iffy.  Some of the features being added are maps, pie charts, and a feature similar to annotation.  (People disparage pie charts, but whether you like them or not, they are a fact of life.)  It’s easy to see why people who avoided traditional SAS/GRAPH and its complexity would be attracted to ODS Graphics, but I was struck by the fact that a lot of users of traditional SAS/GRAPH are now looking at ODS Graphics too.  I once told an SPSS user that SAS/GRAPH is “incredibly flexible, incredibly powerful, incredibly hard to use.”  That’s not true any more (still flexible and powerful, but no longer hard to use).  It sounds melodramatic, but I really believe that ODS Graphics will save graphics in SAS.

Enterprise Guide 4.3

EG 4.3 looks like EG 4.2, but includes fabulous new features for SAS programmers.  These include syntax suggestion and autocompletion to help you write SAS programs, a code analyzer to read your program and turn it into a process flow, and a new autoexec process flow which will run automatically every time you open a project.

The Little SAS Book for Enterprise Guide 4.2

This may not have been a highlight for most attendees, but seeing our newest book in print for the first time was definitely a highlight for me.  My own copies arrived after the conference so the people who bought copies there scooped the authors.

SAS Global 2013

In 2013 SGF will return to  San Francisco! This is a very big deal for SAS users in my area especially since many are government employees and cannot travel outside of California.  If I remember properly, the last time this conference was held in San Francisco a record was set for attendance so coming back is a great idea.

VOX Audio

The last item on my list is the musical group that entertained us all at the end of the Opening Session.  I thought these five incredibly talented people fit right in at SGF because while most SAS users aren’t much for singing (judging from the rather pathetic audience participation), SAS users are clever and innovative. Those words also describe VOX Audio. If you didn’t get to hear them, then click here for a sample.

Missed the conference?

If you missed the conference, you can still learn a lot by reading the papers.  My favorite place to find SAS conference papers is Lex Jansen’s site.  I saw Lex at the conference, but didn’t get to talk to him.  Oh well, next time….

  1. It was nice to meet you at SGF and I feel rude that I forgot to tell you this – I really like your books and refer everyone who wants to get started with SAS to The Little SAS Book.

    Yes, the SAS On Demand announcement DEFINITELY made me perk right up.

  2. Too bad we did not get a chance to chat.
    Next time indeed!

  3. […] was unable to attend the SAS Global Forum in Seattle last week.  Thanks to discussion forums, blogs, and Twitter, I was able to keep up with a lot that was going on.  I was particularly […]

  4. […] 5) Highlights of SAS Global Forum […]

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