Susan Slaughter

11月 082019
 

Six editions is a lot! If you had told us, back when we wrote the first edition of The Little SAS Book, that someday we would write a sixth; we would have wondered how we could possibly find that much to say. After all, it is supposed to be The Little SAS Book, isn’t it? But the developers at SAS Institute are constantly hard at work inventing new and better ways of analyzing and visualizing data. And some of those ways turn out to be so fundamental that they belong even in a little book about SAS.

Interface independence

One of the biggest changes to SAS software in recent years is the proliferation of interfaces. SAS programmers have more choices than ever before. Previous editions contained some sections specific to the SAS windowing environment (also called Display Manager). We wrote this edition for all SAS programmers whether you use SAS Studio, SAS Enterprise Guide, the SAS windowing environment, or run in batch. That sounds easy, but it wasn’t. There are differences in how SAS behaves with different interfaces, and these differences can be very fundamental. In particular, the system option that sets the rules for names of variables varies depending on how you run SAS. So old sections had to be rewritten, and we added a whole new section showing how to use variable names containing blanks and special characters.

New ways to read and write Microsoft Excel files

Previous editions already covered how to read and write Microsoft Excel files, but SAS developers have created some great new ways. This edition contains new sections about the XLSX LIBNAME engine and the ODS EXCEL destination.

More PROC SQL

From the very first edition, The Little SAS Book always covered PROC SQL. But it was in an appendix and over time we noticed that most people ignore appendices. So for this edition, we removed the appendix and added new sections on using PROC SQL to

  • Subset your data
  • Join data sets
  • Add summary statistics to a data set
  • Create macro variables with the INTO clause

For people who are new to SQL, these sections provide a good introduction; for people who already know SQL, they provide a model of how to leverage SQL in your SAS programs.

Updates and additions throughout the book

Almost every section in this edition has been changed in some way. We added new options, made sure everything is up-to-date, and ran every example in every SAS interface noting any differences. For example, PROC SGPLOT has some new options, the default ODS style for PDF has changed, and the LISTING destination behaves differently in different interfaces. Here’s a short list, in no particular order, of new or expanded topics in the sixth edition:

  • More examples with permanent SAS data sets, CSV files, or tab-delimited files
  • More log notes throughout the book showing what to look for
  • LIKE or sounds-like (=*) operators in WHERE statements
  • CROSSLIST, NOCUM, and NOPRINT options in PROC FREQ
  • Grouping data with a user-defined format and the PUT function
  • Iterative DO groups
  • DO WHILE and DO UNTIL statements
  • %DO statements

Even though we have added a lot to this edition, it is still a little book.  In fact, this edition is shorter than the last—by twelve pages! We think this is the best edition yet.

10月 222019
 

I am excited to announce that the sixth edition of The Little SAS Book is now available. We spent over a year rewriting and updating, and this may well be the best edition yet.

You can download a sample chapter or purchase e-book versions (PDF, EPUB or Kindle) by visiting SAS Press’ site.

If, like me, you like to be able to flip the pages and make notes in the margin, then you can get a hard copy (in paperback or hardback!) from Amazon.

10月 172019
 

It has recently become fashionable to talk about data literacy. This is an important idea so I’m glad to see people discussing it.

To me, data literacy means understanding that data are not dry, dusty, abstract squiggles on a computer screen, but represent living things: people, plants, animals. Having a deep understanding of data enables people to engage with data, to explore data, to interpret data, and to use data to impact their lives and work.

Data literacy necessarily comes with a degree of skepticism, recognizing that data can be not only used, but also misused. In this age of “alternative facts,” it is important to recognize when assertions are supported by data, and when they are not.

Everyone knows that technology is becoming more and more a part of everyday life. Without data literacy, people become passive recipients; with data literacy, you can actively engage with technology.

You know you are fluent in a foreign language when you are comfortable speaking it and can communicate what you want to say. The same is true for data literacy; it is about reaching a level of comfort, about seeing the meaning behind the data, and about being able to communicate what you want to say.

Here is how Wikipedia defines data literacy.

4月 252019
 

I’m excited because in a couple days I will fly to Dallas for SAS Global Forum 2019, the biggest SAS conference of the year, attended by thousands.

If you are coming, I hope you will say hello to me.  If you can’t make it to Dallas, you’ll be glad to know that many presentations will be livecast. Here is the schedule

A few highlights:

Sunday, April 28, 7:00-8:30 pm CT–Opening Session

Monday, April 29, 8:30-10:00 am CT–General Session: Technology Connection

Tuesday, April 30, 3:00-4:00 pm CT–Career Advice We’d Give to Our Kids: A Panel Discussion

Wednesday, May 1, 10:30-11:30 am CT–The Good, the Bad, and the Creepy: Why Data Scientists Need to Understand Ethics

These presentations may not be available after the conference so check the schedule and make sure to tune in at the right time.

 

 

 

 

4月 212019
 

 

This year I’ve had the honor of helping to recruit speakers for the Career Development area at SAS Global Forum. We have some fantastic presentations that everyone can benefit from whether you are a student, a new graduate, or a mid-career professional.

I particularly recommend the panel discussion (Career Advice We’d Give to Our Kids) Tuesday April 30, 3:00-4:00 in Level 2, Ballroom C4. The panelists (Shelley Blozis, AnnMaria De Mars, Paul LaBrec) are all great so this should be both informative and entertaining.

The following presentations are listed in order by day and time. As you scroll through this list, you may notice that most (but not all!) of these presentations are in Level 1 Room D168.

Poster (available every day)
Tips to Ensure Success in Your New SAS Project
Flora Fang Liu

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

10:00-11:00 Level 1, D168
Don’t Just Survive, Thrive! A Learning- Based Strategy for a Modern Organization Centered Around SAS
Jovan Marjanovic

11:00-12:00 Level 1, D168
The Power of Know-How: Pump Up Your Professional Value by Refining Your SAS Skills
Gina Huff

1:00-1:15 Level 2, Exhibit Hall D, Super Demo 12
SAS Programming Exam Moves to Performance-Based Format
Mark Stevens

1:30-2:00 Level 1, D168
The Why and How of Teaching SAS to High School Students
Jennifer Richards

2:00-2:30 Level 1, D168
Puzzle Me, Puzzle You: How a Thought Experiment Became a Rubik’s Cube Among a Set of Fun Puzzles
Amit Patel, Lewis Mitchell

2:30-3:00 Level 1, D168
How to Land Work as a SAS Professional
Charu Shankar

3:00-3:15 Level 2, Exhibit Hall D, Super Demo 12
Take SAS Certification Exams from Home Online Proctored
Terry Barham

3:00-4:00 Level 2, Ballroom C4
Panel Discussion: Career Advice We’d Give to Our Kids
Shelley Blozis, AnnMaria De Mars, Paul LaBrec

3:00-4:00 Level 1, D168
How To Be an Effective Statistician
Alexander Schacht

4:00-5:00 Level 1, D168
Stories from the Trenches: Tips and Techniques for Career Advancement from a SAS Industry Recruiter
Molly Hall

5:00-5:30 Level 1, D168
How to HOW: Hands-on- Workshops Made Easy
Chuck Kincaid

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

10:00-11:00 Level 2, Ballroom C3
Tell Me a Data Story
Kat Greenbrook

10:00-11:00 Level 2 Ballroom C4
The Good, The Bad, and The Creepy: Why Data Scientists Need to Understand Ethics
11:00 Jennifer Priestley HOW POI

11:30-12:00 Level 1, D168
New to SAS? Helpful Hints for Developing Your Own Professional Development Plan
Kelly Smith

1月 142019
 

New to SAS?  Here are tips from the translator of The Little SAS Book, Fifth Edition.

Hongqiu Gu, Ph.D. works at the China National Clinical Research Center for Neurological Diseases at the National Center for Healthcare Quality Management in Neurological Diseases at Beijing Tiantan Hospital, Capital Medical University.

He shared these important tips to learn SAS well:

1.  Read SAS Reference Books

I have not counted the number of SAS books I have read; I would estimate over 50 or 60.  The best books to give me a deep understanding of SAS are the SAS Reference Books, including SAS Language Reference Concepts, SAS Functions and CALL Routines Reference, SAS Macro Language Reference, and so on.  There are lots of excellent books published by SAS Press, and usually they are concise and suitable for quick learners.  However, when I realized that SAS could give me a powerful career advantage, I needed to learn SAS systematically and deeply.  I believe the SAS Reference Books are the most authoritative and comprehensive learning materials. Besides, all the updated SAS Reference Books are free to all readers.

2.  Use the SAS Help and Documentation frequently

No one can remember all the syntaxes or options in SAS.  However, don’t worry, SAS Help and Documentation is our best friend.  I use the SAS Help and Documentation quite often.  Even as an experienced SAS user, there are still many situations in which I need to ask for help from SAS Help and Documentation. Every time I use it, I learn something new.

3.  Solve SAS related questions in SAS communities

As the saying goes, practice makes perfect.  Answering SAS related questions is a good way to practice.  Questions can come from daily work, from friends around you, or from other SAS users on the web.  From 2013 to 2015, I spent a lot of time in the largest Chinese SAS online  community answering SAS related questions and I learned many practical skills in a short period.

4.  Make friends with skilled SAS programmers

Learning alone without interacting with others will lead to ignorance.  I have learned a lot from other experienced SAS users and SAS developers.  We share our ideas from time to time, and benefit a lot from the exchange.

 

 

1月 142019
 

Recently The Little SAS Book reached a major milestone.  For the first time ever, it was translated into another language.  The language in this case was Chinese, and the translator was Hongqiu Gu, Ph.D. from the China National Clinical Research Center for Neurological Diseases at the National Center for Healthcare Quality Management in Neurological Diseases at Beijing Tiantan Hospital, Capital Medical University.

To mark this achievement, I asked Hongqiu a few questions.

Susan:  First I want to say how honored I am that you translated our book.  It must have been a lot of work.  Receiving a copy of the translation was a highlight of the year for me.  How did you learn SAS?

Hongqiu:  How did I learn SAS?  That is a long story.  I had not heard of SAS before I took an undergraduate statistics course in 2005.  The first time I heard the name “SAS,” I mistook it for SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome).  Although the pronunciations of these two words are entirely different for native English speakers, most Chinese people pronounced them as /sa:s/.  At that time, I was not trying to learn SAS well, and I simply wanted to pass the exam.  After the exam, all I had learned about SAS was entirely forgotten.  However, during the preparation of my master’s thesis, I had to do a lot of data cleaning and data analysis work with SAS, and I began to learn SAS enthusiastically.

Susan:  Why did you decide to translate The Little SAS Book?

Hongqiu:  Although I highly recommend the SAS Reference Books for learning SAS, most beginners need a concise SAS book to give them a quick overview of what SAS is and what SAS can do.  There is no doubt that The Little SAS Book is the best one as the first SAS book for SAS beginners.  However, it was not easy for a Chinese SAS beginner to get a hardcopy of The Little SAS Book because it was not available in the Chinese market and the price was too high if they shopped overseas.  Another barrier is the language.  Most beginners still want an elementary book in their mother language. Besides, lots of R books had been introduced and translated into Chinese.  Therefore, I believed there was an urgent need to translate this book into Chinese.  So I tried several times to contact SAS press to get permission to translate it into Chinese, but no reply.  Things changed when manager Frank Jiang from SAS China found me after my book, The Romance of SAS Programming, was published by Tsinghua University Press.

Susan:  How long did it take you to translate the book?

Hongqiu:  First, I must state that the Chinese version of The Little SAS Book is a collaborative work.  Manager Frank Jiang from SAS China together with managing editor Yang Liu from Tsinghua University Press did much early-stage work to start this project.  We began the translation in early April 2017 and finished the translation in July 2017.  After that, we took more than three months to complete the two rounds of cross-audit to make sure the translation was correct and typo errors were minimized.

Members of the translation team include Hongqiu Gu, Adrian Liu, Louanna Kong, Molly Li, Slash Xin, Nick Li, Zhixin Yang, Amy Qian, Wei Wang, and Ke Yang.

Members of the audit team include Silence Zeng, Mary Ma, Wei Wang, Jianping Xue, and Sikan Luan.

Susan:  What was the hardest part of translating it?

Hongqiu:  The book is written in plain English and easy to understand.  We did not find any particular part that hard to translate.

Susan:  Are there a lot of SAS users in China?

Hongqiu:  There are a lot of SAS users in China.  I’ve no idea what the exact number of SAS users in China is.  With the increasing need for SAS users in medicine, life science, finance and banking industries, SAS users will become more and more prevalent.

Susan:  Thank you for sharing your experiences.  Perhaps someday we can meet in person at SAS Global Forum.

8月 312018
 

The Western Users of SAS Software 2018 conference is coming to Sacramento, CA, September 5-7.  I have been to a lot of SAS conferences, but WUSS is always my favorite because it is big enough for me to learn a lot, but small enough to be really friendly.

On Wednesday, I will once again present SAS Essentials, a whirlwind introduction to SAS programming in just three hours specially designed for people who are new to SAS.

If you come I hope you will catch my presentations.  If you want a preview or if you can’t come, click the links below to download the papers.

How SAS Thinks: SAS Basics I

Introduction to DATA Step Programming: SAS Basics II

Introduction to SAS Procedures: SAS Basics III

I hope to see you there!

 

4月 072018
 

I’m excited because in a couple days I will fly to Denver for SAS Global Forum 2018, the biggest SAS conference of the year, attended by thousands.

If you are coming, I hope you will attend the presentation that Lora Delwiche and I have.  It is “SAS Studio: A New Way to Program in SAS” on Wednesday April 11, 10:00-11:30am in Meeting Room506.

It’s a Hands On Workshop so it’s best if you can be there in person.  If you can’t, you can still read the paper.

In fact, you can access the proceedings for the entire conference.

And better still, you can attend the conference online.  Selected events can be viewed live including the Opening Session Sunday, April 8, 7:00-8:30pm (MT).

And if you miss that, there is always a library of interesting videos available on demand.

 

4月 072018
 

Recently I was honored to be interviewed by Mamadou Dakouo for his company DataSteps.  I was asked three questions:

  • How did I learn SAS?
  • What advice do I have for someone who wants to become a “top SAS programmer?”
  • What is my favorite SAS procedure?

My answers were

  • In graduate school
  • Be a self-starter
  • PROC FORMAT (runner-up: PROC SGPLOT)

For the details you can watch the video.