Susan Slaughter

Archive for November, 2022|Monthly archive page

Details, details: Updates to The Little SAS Book

In Everything, Little SAS Book Series, Publishing, SAS on November 10, 2022 at 11:26 am

Earlier this year we quietly updated The Little SAS Book, Sixth Edition.  While these changes didn’t get a lot of attention, they are, in our opinion, critical to keeping The Little SAS Book useful and accurate. This is especially important for beginners who can’t be expected to know the history of SAS software or how it is evolving.

The updates include countless small changes, but mostly fall into a few broad categories:

  • References to SAS University Edition have been deleted.  When we wrote the Sixth Edition not so long ago, we had no way of knowing that SAS University Edition would soon be relegated to the great bit-bucket in the sky.  As of August 21, 2021, SAS University Edition is no longer supported by SAS Institute.  Microsoft forced this change when they stopped supporting virtual machines in which SAS University Edition ran.  Fortunately for people learning SAS, there is another option: SAS OnDemand for Academics is a cloud-based version of SAS that is free for non-commercial use.
  • We also clarified discussions of data set names, filenames, and paths.  The SAS language is not sensitive to case.  This is still true.  What is less obvious is that some parts of  SAS programs are not technically part of the SAS language. Filenames and paths, and even data set names, depend on your operating environment.  This doesn’t matter much if you are using an operating environment (such as Windows) that is also case insensitive. But it can matter a lot in operating environments (such as UNIX and Linux) that are sensitive to case.  It is possible to run SAS and not know which operating environment you are using. For example, SAS OnDemand for Academics runs on UNIX even if you are accessing it from another type of computer such as a Windows PC. So we took a hard look at the way we describe data set names, filenames, and paths and reworded them for clarity.
  • While we were making changes, we couldn’t resist another small one.  We added the very useful SCAN function to our table of character functions in Section 3.4.  There was just one small problem. Because there was no surplus space, we had to  remove something else to make room for SCAN.  That’s why the ANYALNUM function is now gone. However, this section still includes ANYALPHA, ANYDIGIT, and ANYSPACE so the ANY family of functions is still well represented.

So how can you know if your copy of the Sixth Edition is the original version or the updated one? One easy way is to check the index to see if it includes an entry for the SCAN function.

A more technical way is to look at the back of the title page where the copyright notices appear. Near the bottom of the page, if it says

“October 2019”

then you have the original version. If it says

“Originally published October 2019 Revised March 2022”

then you have the updated version.