Susan Slaughter

Archive for the ‘SAS Global Forum’ Category

Free Resources for Learning SAS (and Other Tips from SAS Authors)

In Everything, Publishing, SAS, SAS Global Forum, SAS Papers, Western Users of SAS Software on May 3, 2016 at 1:01 pm

In celebration of SAS Global Forum, the folks at SAS Press gathered tips from SAS Press authors.  Here is my contribution:

This is the best time ever to learn SAS!

When I first encountered SAS, there were only two ways that I could get help. I could either ask another graduate student who might or might not know the answer, or I could go to the computer center and borrow the SAS manual. (There was only one.) Today it’s totally different.  I am continually amazed by the resources that are available now—many for FREE

Here are four resources that every new SAS user should know about:

1. SAS Studio

This is a wonderful new interface for SAS that runs in a browser and has both programming and point-and-click features. SAS Studio is free for students, professors, and independent learners. You can download the SAS University Edition to run SAS Studio on your own computer, or use SAS OnDemand for Academics via the Internet.

2. Online classes

Two of the most popular self-paced e-learning classes are available for free: SAS Programming 1: Essentials, and Statistics 1. These are real classes which in the past people paid thousands of dollars to take.

3. Videos

You can access hundreds of SAS training videos, tutorials, and demos at Topics range from basic (What is SAS?) to advanced (SAS 9.4 Metadata Clustering).

4. Community of SAS users

If you encounter a problem, it is likely that someone else has faced a similar situation and figured out how to solve it. On you can post questions and get answers from SAS users and developers. On the site,, you can find virtually every paper ever presented at a SAS users group conference. The site is a wiki-style compendium of all things SAS.

For more tips from SAS Press authors, click here to read them all.


Missed SGF 2016? It’s not too late

In Everything, SAS, SAS Global Forum, SAS Papers on April 22, 2016 at 9:29 am



SAS Global Forum 2016 is over.

Thousands of conference attendees are now back home.  Much of the conference was live-streamed, but if you missed it, that’s all right because many of the best sessions were recorded.  However, finding particular videos can be tricky.  So, here are my favorites.  Click the heading to link to the video:

Opening Session Highlights

Learn where SAS is now and where it’s going including cloud computing with SAS Viya in a short and sweet 5 minute summary.

Ariana Huffington on The Sleep Revolution

Huffington talks about the importance of a good night’s sleep for doing our best.  This is the full presentation.

David McCandless on Data Visualization

McCandless is an amazing graphic artist of data.  This is the full presentation.

Breakout Sessions

The heart of SAS Global Forum has always been papers by SAS users for SAS users.  This year more have been recorded than ever before.


Now Starring Susan and Lora in “SGPLOT and SGPANEL Procedures”

In Everything, Little SAS Book Series, ODS Graphics, SAS, SAS Global Forum on May 29, 2015 at 10:14 am

SAS Global Forum logoODS Graphics is not exactly new.  It became production with SAS 9.2 back around 2008, and before then it existed in a pre-production form at least as early as 2003.  So you would think that by now everyone who uses SAS would be using ODS Graphics, but apparently this is not the case.

It has come to my attention that some long-time SAS users still use PROC CHART–not even PROC GCHART, but PROC CHART which was designed for line printers back in the 1970s and creates graphs using alphanumeric characters!  Here is an example of a bar chart created using PROC CHART:


There is no excuse for this (unless, of course, you are trying to create a hip, retro vibe).  ODS Graphics is easy to use and produces beautiful graphs.  Here is the same bar chart created using PROC SGPLOT:


Now, if you are one of those people who uses SAS/Graph and PROC GCHART, and you are able to get the results you want, then that’s great.  I would never tell a SAS/Graph user to switch to ODS Graphics.  But for most people SAS/Graph is just too hard to use.  That’s why the developers at SAS created ODS Graphics: for the rest of us.  Just to prove that PROC SGPLOT is not any harder than PROC CHART, here is the code I used to create the two preceding bar charts:

PROC CHART DATA = olympics;
VBAR Region / SUBGROUP = PopGroup;

PROC SGPLOT DATA = olympics;
VBAR Region / GROUP = PopGroup;

If you are one of those people who still hasn’t learned ODS Graphics (or if you are new to SAS and want to get off on the right foot), this is your big chance.  At the recent SAS Global Forum conference, Lora Delwiche and I presented our paper “Graphing Made Easy with SGPLOT and SGPANEL Procedures.”  You can view that presentation.  Give us 50 minutes of your time, and we will convince you that ODS Graphics is easy (and maybe even fun) to use.  We start with a general introduction so you understand how the SGPLOT and SGPANEL procedures fit into the larger world of ODS Graphics, then we show how to create different types of graphs and how to customize them.

To watch our presentation, click here.

To download a copy of our paper, click here.

A lot of other great presentations were recorded at SGF too.  To see the full list, click here.

Happy graphing!


Sending Text Messages from SAS

In Everything, SAS Global Forum, SAS Papers on May 18, 2015 at 6:58 am

SAS Global Forum logo For me, a major highlight of SAS Global Forum 2015 was seeing Matthew Slaughter’s presentation, Sending Text Messages from SAS.  You may have noticed that his name is similar to mine.  This is not a coincidence as he is my son.  However, this paper was his idea.  He researched the topic on his own, and wrote the paper by himself.  In his presentation, he described two ways to send text message from SAS.  The first uses a FILENAME statement and DATA _NULL_ to send a text message via the email-to-SMS gateway.  The second uses an X command to send a text message via Amazon’s Simple Notification Service.  To download his paper click here.

SAS Certification on a Budget

In Everything, SAS, SAS certification, SAS Global Forum, SAS Papers on May 8, 2015 at 7:59 am

SAS Global Forum logo I recently returned from SAS Global Forum where Andra Northup and I presented an updated and expanded version of our paper “SAS Certification as a Tool for Professional Development.”  You can read our paper here.

SAS certification has been around for a while.  The first SAS certification exam was offered way back in 1999.  So it’s fascinating to me that the program is currently growing in leaps and bounds.  Over 80,000 SAS certification credentials have been awarded and 13,383 of those were in 2014 alone.  The SAS certification program has experienced double-digit growth for the last five years.  I have a suspicion that technical certifications are growing in popularity in general, and that SAS’s certification program is riding that wave.  Over the last six months, I have begun to see job postings specifically asking for Base SAS certification.  This is totally new!  Of course, certification alone is not enough to get you hired or promoted as a SAS programmer, but it can help.

Unfortunately, preparing for certification can be expensive.  SAS Institute offers a Base Programming Certification Package.  This package includes four courses, a practice exam, and an exam voucher; and comes with a 40% discount that brings the total price down to $2,995.  Despite the hefty discount, this package is still out of reach for many people.  Fortunately, there are less expensive ways to prepare.  In fact, many excellent ways to prepare for certification are low in cost or even free!  With that in mind, I propose the

Build-Your-Own Base Programming Certification Package

Mix and match the following items to create a custom package to fit your budget:

$1,300-2,000 Instructor-based “Classroom” and “Live Web” classes
$1,100 SAS Certification Review: Base Programming class (both “Classroom” and “Live Web”)
$750-1,250 Online Self-Paced e-Learning classes
$150 Certification Prep Guides, Base or Advanced
$100 Course notes from classes offered by SAS Institute
$55 Online practice exam, Base, Advanced or Predictive Modeler (good for six months)
$50-75 Other books such as The Little SAS Book
FREE SAS University Edition software
FREE SAS Programming 1: Essentials online Self-Paced e-Learning course
FREE Statistics 1: Introduction to ANOVA, Regression, and Logistic Regression Self-Paced e-Learning course
FREE List of exam topics on
FREE Sample questions on
FREE Blogs

For more advice about how to prepare for, register for and take SAS certification exams, see our paper.  We wish you the best of luck!

New Service Matches SAS Analysts and Employers

In Everything, SAS, SAS Global Forum, Western Users of SAS Software on November 3, 2014 at 7:35 am

Analyst FinderAnalyst Finder is a new service created by well-known SAS programmer Art Tabachneck to help connect analytical professionals with potential employers.  I asked Art a few questions:

Why did you create Analyst Finder?

The analytical community has helped me throughout my career; and, over the years, I have done my best to return the favor. I came up with the ideas behind Analyst Finder (AF) after discovering how difficult it is for companies and recruiters to find the talent they seek. AF isn’t designed to replace recruiters; but, rather, to provide them and companies with better and more systematic access to the analytical community.

AF is really four different things. AF is a structured database designed to capture the skills, contact information, and job preferences of everyone in the analytical community. LinkedIn is likely the closest thing to it, but it doesn’t contain structured data and doesn’t capture job preferences.

Second, AF is a structured database designed to capture information about skills that companies and recruiters are seeking.

Third, AF has a SAS-driven search engine that can automatically match the two databases and identify the candidates who most closely match what employers are seeking.

Fourth, once sufficiently populated, AF is a source for aggregate information that has never been available to the analytical community, such as in-demand skills and average salaries broken down by region, education, years of experience, areas of expertise, etc.

What makes AF unique?

It is the only recruitment service that:

  • is run by and for the analytical community.
  • uses technology to match employers’ needs with analysts’ skills and job preferences.
  • lets the analytical community control their information.  AF will never provide contact information to a company or recruiter unless the analyst wants to share it for a particular position.

Is there a charge for using AF?

AF is and always will be no cost, no risk, and commitment-free to the analytical community. Additionally, it is ultra-low cost for companies and recruiters to use, compared to what they would have to pay without it.

Is AF only for people who work full-time?

No, anyone can sign up. The position types employers can select are full-time, part-time, contract and internship.

You talk about the fact that there are millions of SAS programmers, but most of those people are not currently looking for jobs.  Do you see AF as something that would be of interest to people who are currently employed?

I encourage all analytical professionals to sign up whether they are currently looking for new positions or not because at some point in the future they may be.  Additionally, the aggregate information produced by AF will be helpful to both job-seekers and employed analytical professionals.

Have you gotten any feedback from employers?

Employers were quick to let us know that many of them were interested in all walks of analytical professionals.  Thus we expanded the checklist to cover all analytical professionals.

So if someone wants to join Analyst Finder, what do they do?

It’s a simple 2-step process.  First, you register at and are immediately sent an ID number and checklist.  Then, after you complete the checklist (which takes about 10 to 15 minutes), you submit it to the same website.  You can update your checklist as often as wish, and that just takes a couple seconds.

Once someone signs up for Analyst Finder, how do you use their information?

We only use analysts’ information to (1) help them find positions and (2) provide them and the rest of the analytical community with aggregate summary information from our two databases.  No individually identifiable information will ever be released unless a registrant explicitly directs us to provide their name and email address to a specific company or recruiter regarding a specific position.

SAS Global Forum 2015 Here I Come!

In Everything, SAS, SAS Global Forum, SAS Papers on March 12, 2014 at 8:55 am

I first attended SAS Global Forum (then called SAS Users Group International) way back in 1987.  Since then I have attended as often as possible.  Unfortunately, 2014 is not one of my years.  I will not be there in Washington DC March 23-26, 2014 to hear the great presentations, or learn about exciting new features from developers in the Demo Room, or see the many friends I have made over the years.  You can be sure that when March 23 comes, I’ll be hanging out in front of my computer to catch the Opening Session and any other live-streamed events I can glean.

Since I can’t be there this year, I’m already looking ahead.  I plan to be in Dallas next year for SGF April 26-29, 2015.  I might even make a presentation or two. I’m already trying to figure out possible topics for a paper or panel.  So I was intrigued when I heard a segment on the public radio program Marketplace about this very issue.  They have developed a Panel Generator to invent promising session topics for you.  Here’s the link.  Just click the Pick a Panel button, and they will create an original topic just for you.

Here are a few I’m considering:

Programmers Are Dead, Long Live Programmers

The Path to Freelancing: Innovation Sauce

Data Is Dead, Long Live Data [sic]

7 Things Coders Need to Know About Maximizing

Infographics Are Dead, Long Live Infographics

Your Profile is Your Brand

Coders as Employers: The Big Shift from Interaction

How to Redesign Developers with Artisanal Selfies

From Incubators to the Digital Divide: An Introduction to Success

Let me know if you’d like to hear me talk about any of these topics at SGF 2015, and I’ll try to figure out what they are.

NOWINDOWS Goes Out the Window

In Everything, Little SAS Book Series, SAS, SAS Global Forum on February 18, 2014 at 4:25 pm

I just discovered by accident a new “feature” in SAS 9.4, one that apparently wasn’t glamorous enough to be mentioned back at SAS Global Forum last spring.

Starting with SAS 9.4, by default, PROC REPORT runs in noninteractive mode.

In other words, you no longer have to specify the NOWINDOW option in order to avoid that clunky interactive REPORT window.  If you are one of the half dozen people who actually want that window, you can still open it by specifying the WINDOWS option on the PROC REPORT statement.  (Be sure you type that S because it’s WINDOWS not WINDOW.)  But since I have always detested the REPORT window, you won’t find me doing that.  So you would think I would be happy.  Instead, this change leaves me feeling conflicted and confused.

This is the kind of change that makes programmers cheer—and technical writers cringe! 

Why, oh why, couldn’t the good developers at SAS have defenestrated the REPORT window back with SAS 9.3 so that we could have incorporated this change into the newest edition of The Little SAS Book?  Arrrrg!  The Fifth Edition is only one year old and already obsolete—though fortunately only slightly so.

If you want more information, you can find this change documented in the What’s New in Base SAS 9.4 Procedures Guide.

2013 in review

In Detritus, Everything, Little SAS Book Series, SAS Global Forum on December 31, 2013 at 10:54 am

I am certainly not one to decline when someone offers to write a blog entry for me. Here, courtesy of the stats monkeys at WordPress is the annual report for the blog:

And here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,600 times in 2013. (Yes, that’s more than I expected too.) If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

To all my colleagues and friends

I send best wishes for a

Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Werken Met SAS

In Everything, Publishing, SAS, SAS Global Forum on June 4, 2013 at 7:13 am

Werken Met SASOne thing that impressed me about SAS Global Forum 2013 was the number of international attendees–28 percent!  While SGF (and it’s predecessor SUGI) always claimed to be the worldwide SAS conference, only recently has this actually become true.

One longtime international attendee is the SAS author, Erik Tilanus, who hails from the Netherlands.  Erik works as a consultant through his company, Synchrona, specializing in the airline and travel industries.  Not only has he attended SGF, he has even served as a section chair.

This year, Erik brought a copy of the newest edition of his book Werken met SAS which he showed to me at the Opening Night Dinner.  I can’t read Dutch, but, by coincidence, the person sitting on the other side of Erik could!  He was from South Africa and could read the book because Afrikaans is similar to Dutch.

Here is a description of Werken met SAS:

Er is een nieuwe editie van het Nederlandse standaardwerk over SAS: Werken met SAS. Deze nieuwe editie is bijgewerkt tot en met SAS 9.3.  In ongeveer 600 bladzijden wordt niet alleen de basis van het werken met SAS duidelijk gemaakt, maar worden ook diverse geavanceerde technieken besproken, zodat het boek zowel voor beginners als al enigszins gevorderde SAS gebruikers een hoop te bieden heeft. Alle technieken worden aan de hand van duidelijke voorbeelden toegelicht.  In totaal staan er meer dan 100 voorbeeldprogramma’s in het boek.

For those of you who don’t read Dutch, here is a rough translation:

There is a new edition of the Dutch standard treatise on SAS: Working with SAS.  This new edition has been updated to SAS 9.3.  In 600 pages it makes clear not only the basics of working with SAS, but also discusses various advanced techniques, so that the book offers a little hope for both beginners and advanced SAS users.  All techniques are explained using clear examples. In total there are more than 100 sample programs in the book.

Werken met SAS is a comprehensive introduction to the SAS system.  You can get an idea of the topics covered by viewing the table of contents.