sas global forum

3月 212011
rtist rendering of early SUGI plotsIn the computer software industry, 35 years is like an eon.

I mean, 35 years ago, the computing power that I carry around within my mobile phone didn't even exist all in one place; but if it did, it would have filled an entire building.

That's why the recent posting of SAS conference papers from 1976-1996 (on is a little bit like uncovering cave paintings from a bygone era. They might not yield information about advanced technology we can use today, but they sure can teach us a lot about where we've been.

I'm proud to say that I wrote one of the papers that appears in this archive. It's at the tail-end of the covered range: SUGI 21 in 1996. The topic is implementing native help for SAS/AF applications on OS/2 and Windows. That paper established me as one of the world's top experts in the subject for a little while, and I received questions on the topic for maybe 5 years after its publication. But the interest has died off since those days, and I have to admit that I feel relieved about that.

Congratulations to Rich La Valley and the team for bringing this content together. The SAS Global Users Group (like SAS itself) is rich with "institutional history", and the availability of these proceedings is a great way to show that off.

3月 182011
SAS Global Forum 2011 just over two weeks away.

The R&D and product management teams are preparing the demos to show on stage during the highly-visible opening sessions. A tremendous amount of work goes into planning the program. It's great to see what they come up with. When it comes time for the Big Show, it all looks so effortless and really impressive. Just the way it's supposed to.

For my part, I'm setting the stage for my own content. As part of the duties of presenting an invited paper, I'm supposed to post a description and links to online content on I've done that, and you can see it here:

Social Networking and SAS: Running PROCs on Your Facebook Friends

I've also posted the complete examples, including a download of my Facebook application (turns your Facebook friends into a SAS program) and the source code for my Twitter example.

3月 092011

PowerPoint: A Cautionary TaleWith SGF 2011 fast approaching, I’m sure I’m not the only speaker  hard at work preparing my PowerPoint presentations.  I can remember the old days when speakers brought actual slide trays full of film slides.  I don’t miss the expense of those slides or the amount of room they took in my suitcase, and it is wonderful to be able to fix any typos you may discover at the last minute.  Still PowerPoint has its limitations….

If you haven’t seen Peter Norvig‘s Gettysburg PowerPoint Presentation, then you definitely should. It’s not new, but I just recently learned about it from my son.  Click here to see what is possibly the most entertaining PowerPoint presentation ever created.

3月 022011
Marty Hultgren
Michelle Buchecker
SAS Global Forum creates a big buzz in the SAS user community, so in order to find out what the fuss is about, I decided to chat with a couple of our instructors who would be going to Las Vegas. In addition to teaching pre-conference training, these two instructors will present the two seminars, Fear SAS® Graphs No More! and Understanding Why Your Macros Don’t Work, on Monday, April 4th from 1:00-4:00 before the opening session.

Take a moment to read this Q&A feature with Marty Hultgren and Michelle Buchecker about the seminars they are presenting and what they look forward to on this trip to Vegas.

1. What do you each do for SAS?

Marty: I teach a number of SAS courses, including Programming 1, 2 and 3, Macro, SQL, SAS® Enterprise Guide® and Business Intelligence platform classes. I also write courses, review books by users and answer lots of interesting questions from students I’ve had in classes.

Michelle: Similar to Marty, I teach several classes, write courses and I am also the Curriculum Manager for many SAS Solutions. In addition to that, I manage the Midwest region which includes a staff of eight employees and five SAS training centers.

2. You’re each planning to present on papers written by Michelle. Tell us a little bit about what each of your sessions will touch on and what interests you about the topics.

Marty: Michelle had a business problem that she had been solving using Microsoft Excel, but which she converted to SAS Enterprise Guide. Using her paper (Fear SAS Graphs No More!) as a guide, I’ll show the process she used to get to the result – a process using both point-and-click tools in Enterprise Guide, and some customized code to massage the data and create some sleek and informative graphs. There are a number of interesting things about the talk, and about Michelle’s solution, including the way we move from a lesser to a more robust solution and the way a few small changes to the graph and title code, the addition of a bit of macro code and some simple prompts combine to make for a very useful solution.

Michelle: To add on to what Marty said, one of the main reasons I switched from Excel to Enterprise Guide is that I was tired of getting out the calculator to add numbers from an online Unix system to plug into my Excel spreadsheet … The paper I will be presenting (Understanding Why Your Macros Don’t Work) is good old Macro stuff. The Macro course is where we see the most number of repeat students, namely because of the nuances and intricacies of the Macro facility. There is a lot of power to the macro world, but with that power you need a lot of knowledge to make sure what you are doing is correct. My seminar will be a way to help understand why things work the way they do in the macro world.

Continue reading "2 Popular SAS Topics, 2 Awesome SAS Instructors, a Pinnacle SAS Event"
3月 022011
A few months ago I wrote a blog entry titled "SAS/GRAPH "SG" Procedures--Not Just for Statisticians!" It was so well received that I was invited to open for Celine Dion at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas! Well, not really, but I was invited (along with co-blogger Cynthia Zender) to give the presentation "Introduction to ODS Graphics for the Non-Statistician" at SAS Global Forum 2011 in Las Vegas. The presentation is a greatly expanded version of the blog posting that shows you how to use the SGPLOT, SGPANEL, and SGSCATTER procedures and the interactive ODS Graphics Designer to create commonly-used business charts and plots.

Here are a few examples of the graphs that you can easily produce:

So, if you're attending SAS Global Forum, please come by and pick up a few tips. If you're unable to attend, the full paper will be available in the Conference Proceedings, and I'll give my regards to Celine for you!

3月 022011
I feel the experience of participating at SAS Global Forum year after year is like relishing a warm brownie! It’s the same treat but a unique experience every time. Subtle changes in the ingredients can lead to a unique and enhanced flavor. The team behind the scenes works hard to ensure that SAS users experience a new flavor each time they attend the conference. My goal through this series is to give you a taste of the most delicious in the form of paper winners from the previous year, along with a sampling of what’s coming this year through our new sections and their descriptions.

If this is the first time you are reading my series, welcome! You can catch up on the previous posts and read the paper winners’ stories on Snapshot of the Best Papers of 2010. The spotlight this week shines on David Dobson with his winning presentation Segmenting Textual Data for Automobile Insurance Claims in the Data Mining and Predictive Modeling section. In the spirit of adjusting the ingredients and enhancing the flavor, the section name has been modified to Data Mining and Text Analytics. Tyler Smith (DoD Center for Deployment Health Research) heads this section this year. Keeping with the changing times, the focus this year is to combine statistical, economic and forecasting techniques to use a multitude of SAS tools to solve problems in today's economic environment. Special consideration will be given to those presentations using real-world data, both structured and unstructured.

I reached out to David Dobson to discover the recipe of his success. Dobson is the President and CEO at Dobson Analytics. Here’s what he had to say:
Continue reading "Data Mining and Text Analytics: Segmenting Textual Data for Automobile Insurance Claims"
2月 252011
Aubrey Barfield
Andy Ravenna
Before you take off for SAS Global Forum in Las Vegas, take a trip to our training page to hear Aubrey Barfield interview SAS instructor Andy Ravenna about the event. He’ll talk about his session, Becoming a Better Programmer with SAS Enterprise Guide 4.3, which he will be presenting at SAS Global Forum on Tuesday, April 5th at 4:30, and he'll also share his plans for what else he'll be doing while in Vegas. Stay a while to learn how you can save 15% on pre-conference training and certification offerings held from March 31-April 3 at Caesar’s Palace, including the course Andy is teaching, SAS Programming 2: Data Manipulation Techniques.
2月 112011

With SAS Global Forum less than two months away, I am busy putting the finishing touches on my papers.  One of those papers is SAS Macro Programming for Beginners. Of all the conference papers I have written over the years, this is probably my favorite.  Yet oddly, I have only presented this paper once at SGF and that was long ago.  So I am pleased to have an opportunity to dust this paper off.

Don’t expect a lot of advanced macro tricks here.  This paper is exactly what the title says: macro programming for beginners.  It’s a crystal-clear presentation of the basic concepts you need to understand in order to be comfortable in the company of SAS macros.  I can summarize the paper in two sentences that I call “Susan’s macro mottos.”  Here they are:

Susan’s Macro Mottos

Remember: You are writing a program that writes a program.

This is the most important concept to keep in mind whenever you write or debug SAS macros.  If you feel the least bit confused by a macro, repeating this motto can help you to see what is going on.  I speak from personal experience here. This is my macro mantra.

To avoid mangling your macros, always write them one piece at a time.

First write your program in standard SAS code. When that is working and bug-free, then add your %MACRO and %MEND statements. When they are working, then add your parameters, if any, one at a time.  If you make sure that each macro feature you add is working before you add another one, then debugging will be vastly simplified.

If you are lucky enough to attend SAS Global Forum and you want to catch this presentation, look for me in the Milano V-VI room Tuesday April 5, 2011, 10:30-11:20 am.

Click here to download the paper.

1月 252011
For all our SAS Global Forum connoisseurs, welcome to this series - Snapshot of the Best Papers of 2010.
Despite running for more than three decades, there’s always something new and exciting cooking at SAS Global Forum. Through this series, I will be sharing some of those vibrant flavors from our current tracks and section descriptions, as well as interesting aha! moments from our 2010 paper winners.

The last post in this series featured Ian Healy and Rocket Wong, the paper winners from the Business Intelligence and Analytics section. This week’s signature dish is presented by David Logan in his Blistering ETL Performance Using the Intelligent, Dynamic and Parallel Capabilities of SAS. It won the best paper under the Data Integration section. This year, the section is chaired by Sue Douglass, who works as an independent consultant. The track focuses on the latest processes for efficiently transforming data into accurate user information. You can become a star by giving a presentation that best demonstrates the basic features of SAS Data Integration Studio and techniques for implementing ETL, along with robust methods for integrating data.

I reached out to Logan, the star presenter winner of 2010 to find out how he prepared for his paper. Logan is the principal consultant at the PBT Group, South Africa.
Continue reading "Data Integration: Blistering ETL Performance Using the Intelligent, Dynamic and Parallel Capabilities of SAS"
1月 202011

I should have posted this a couple weeks ago, but I’ve been hard at work writing papers for SAS Global Forum (more about that in future posts!).

These were the popular posts and pages on in 2010.

1) What can I use SAS for?

2) Top 10 Reasons to Use SAS Enterprise Guide

3) SAS Papers, Etc.

4) A SAS Horror Story

5) Highlights of SAS Global Forum

Best Wishes for a Peaceful and Prosperous New Year!