Are you going to SAS Forum UK 2017 in Birmingham? I’m presenting there!

SAS Forum UK 2017 is being held in the Vox Conference Centre near the Birmingham NEC again this year from Tuesday 26th to Wednesday 27th September 2017, and I’ll be presenting “Making Graphs Easier to Validate – The Benefits of ODS Graphics” at 1130hr in the Tech Tips stream on the Tuesday.

It will not a very big conference (although last year there were 650 attendees spread over the 2 days), as not everyone attends both days, but it will lean heavily towards techie topics again. Those looking to take certification exams will be able to do so during Tuesday, Tuesday also includes streams for “Expert services for: Learning & Academia”, “Expert services for: Consulting & Premium Support”, “Tech Tips” and “Super Demos”, and the Wednesday will include streams for “Customer Stories”, “SAS Presents”, “Technical Insights” and more “Super Demos”. See the SAS Forum UK 2017 web site for more details.

I will be running a prize draw again for you to win a copy of my recent book “SAS Programming and Data Visualization Techniques: A Power User’s Guide”. Just drop in a business card or fill out a blank card at the stand to get a chance to win a copy.

Hope to see you there.

Rejoining VIEWS UK (or just joining for the first time)?

Recently I reported that the VIEWS web site had been closed down, but that the newsletter archive was will available on sasCommunity.org. I have now been able to store the original VIEWS News PDF files on my blog site, which can be accessed via a new VIEWS UK forum. This forum is available on request to all registered blog members, and those with access will be notified of any new content.

Some of the new content will include previously unpublished indexes I used to help me write the Formats, Options & Functions articles in the newsletters, which allowed me to see in a single view which features had already been described and when. I will also be including an authors list soon. All features that could help you find information that is difficult to find using standard searches. I may even try to publish some new issues of VIEWS News soon too!

You might be thinking that, as I had emailed VIEWS members in the past, I could use that email list to include them automatically again. However, this new VIEWS environment has been built on an existing blog site, and, although theoretically I could register all the previous VIEWS members using their email addresses, I don’t know all of their real names and would, therefore, have to guess their new user names, so I don’t think forcing anyone to register on my blog site is at all appropriate. This is the reason I’m asking everyone interested to register themselves instead.

SO, whether you have been a VIEWS member in the past, or not, here is how you can join the new VIEWS UK forum:

  1. If you are not already registered on my blog site, then join via the registration page.
  2. Once you have registered, then email views-uk@hollandnumerics.org.uk, or use the site’s Contact Us link, to say you would like to join the VIEWS UK forum.
  3. I will manually update your blog profile to give you the required configuration and reply to your registered email address as soon as you have access to the new forum. You will then see VIEWS UK in the forum list when you next log into the blog site.

The VIEWS web site has closed down forever!

Many of you may be asking what is “VIEWS”?

Back in 1998 a group of enthusiastic SAS programmers founded VIEWS – the International SAS Programmer Community, and Andy Radcliffe became the first editor of VIEWS News. The free newsletter delivered hints, tips, news, and features on technologies and techniques to VIEWS members. Articles were written by a balanced mixture of users and consultants – with occasional contributions from SAS staff too. The short, punchy style of VIEWS News made it easy and convenient to read for the busy members of VIEWS. I took over the Editor’s role in 2002, and published it up to the most recent issue in 2011 Q4. Every back-issue of the newsletter can still be downloaded from here, because the newsletter continues to be hosted on sasCommunity.org.

Actually the newsletter has not really died yet, but is in suspended animation until I have time to publish a new issue, but the VIEWS web site and email addresses have now expired, so I have created a new contact email address for VIEWS at views-uk@hollandnumerics.org.uk, which will accept membership requests and newsletter content, just in case. More details can be found in this post: Rejoining VIEWS UK (or just joining for the first time)?.

Looking for a SAS job or wanting to promote your SAS recruitment agency?

I’ve recently opened up new opportunities for two groups of registered members:

  • Recruiters wanting to promote their agencies.
  • SAS programmers looking for their next SAS job.

All of the forums in [Holland Numerics: Blog and Forums] now allow messages to be sent by registered members directly and privately to anyone posting a topic in a forum. This means that, if you post a new topic in the SAS Skills Discussion Forum (which is accessible to all registered members) describing your recruitment agency, or your own SAS programming skills, other registered members will be able to send you messages. The facility also removes the necessity to reveal your phone number or email address to anyone you don’t need to, as the messages will be collected on the blog site, and you will be notified by email of new messages there, and any forum topic will display a list of your own messages at the bottom of the web page.

However, please think carefully about what you include in your topic, as your agency profile, or your SAS job prospects, could be positively or negatively affected by what you write!

Note that there may also be a delay in the topic appearing if you are writing your first topic in the forum, as I will have to approve it. This is intended to protect you from spam postings. But as soon as it is visible to all registered members, then a [Send a Message] link will be seen in the topic under your name.

New app updates available in Google Play and Amazon Appstore

Android 8.0 is coming very soon, so I have started preparing my apps for this new platform, while still maintaining the same functionality for Android versions back to 2.3.3 (Gingerbread). However, I will not be further updating my Chrome apps, as the Chrome Web Store has stopped accepting new apps, and is likely to stop hosting existing apps soon too.

The first paid-for app to be updated for Android 8.0, including 6 more questions, is:

and the 2 free apps, including samples from the other apps:

Update to more of my Android apps will follow shortly.

This is quick reminder that I still have the following apps available in Google Play:

  • Data Steps: Do This in SAS?
  • SQL: Do This in SAS?
  • Graphs: Do This in SAS?
  • Platforms: Do This in SAS?
  • EG: Do This in SAS?
  • Macros: Do This in SAS?
  • Efficiency: Do This in SAS?
  • Studio: Do This in SAS?

These apps are also available for Android users in the Amazon Appstore:

  • Data Steps: How Do You Do This in SAS?
  • SQL: How Do You Do This in SAS?
  • Graphs: How Do You Do This in SAS?
  • Platforms: How Do You Do This in SAS?
  • EG: How Do You Do This in SAS?
  • Macros: How Do You Do This in SAS?
  • Efficiency: How Do You Do This in SAS?
  • Studio: How Do You Do This in SAS?

There are also free apps, which you can find by searching in each app store:

  • How Do You Do This in SAS? (Google Play and Amazon Appstore)
  • Consulting: Do This in SAS? (Google Play)
  • Consulting: How Do You Do This in SAS? (Amazon Appstore)

All these apps are updated frequently, and the paid-for apps are priced at less than US$3 based on the number of questions that are answered, and within the apps you can ask new questions that can be added in future updates. It doesn’t matter which platform you use, as the same content is present in the corresponding Google Play and Amazon Appstore apps.

Premium SAS Support for Commercial Clients

Free membership gives you access to the SAS Skills Discussion Forum for non-programming questions about SAS. Programming and Recruiter memberships, which require monthly low-cost subscriptions, give you access to the same forum and to the SAS Programming Forum, where you can ask SAS programming questions. However, all questions and answers are visible to all members with access to each forum, which may not be quite what you are looking for.

To fulfill any need for confidential correspondence you may have seen a recent addition to the blog menu. The Premium SAS help desk service, called [sas.answers @ Holland Numerics] (which has actually been around since 2002), is different. It does not require even Free membership of the blog, but it does require a separate subscription payable using PayPal. What makes this service special is that it provides an in-house web-based interface for you to ask questions, which automatically generates an SMS message and an email to Holland Numerics, with a copy of the email sent back to you too. There is also a service level agreement to provide an answer to every question within 48 hours, and that answer will be privately sent directly back to the sending subscriber! Please note that, if a monthly subscription is not necessary, then a single question can be asked instead for a reduced fee.

Full details of the [sas.answers @ Holland Numerics] help desk service can be found here.

[sas.answers @ Holland Numerics] – A dedicated confidential premium SAS help desk service

How will the [sas.answers @ Holland Numerics] service help you?

  • You will receive expert advice and skills transfer on SAS® software.
  • As a subscriber you can send your questions either:
    1. via the web interface using the button below:
    2. or directly via email to sas.answers@hollandnumerics.com.
  • Answers to your questions about the software will be returned to subscribers by email within 48 hours.

SAS software experience available for you @ Holland Numerics Limited:

Experience accumulated since 1981 from SAS software version 79.6 to SAS software version 9.4, using:

  • Windows PC
  • Windows Server
  • UNIX (including Solaris 10 64-bit), Linux
  • MVS, OS/390, z/OS
  • VAX/VMS, OpenVMS
  • OS/2

Detailed answers can be supplied to you for your questions about the following SAS software components:

  • Base SAS software (including macros, PROC SQL, PROC REPORT, PROC TABULATE, SAS ODBC Driver, DDE, Output Delivery System, ODS Graphics)
  • SAS/ACCESS® software (including DB2, Oracle, ODBC, PC File Formats/PC Files, Teradata)
  • SAS/AF® software (including Frame, OLE)
  • SAS/CONNECT® software
  • SAS/GRAPH® software (including Output Delivery System)
  • SAS/STAT®, SAS/ETS® software
  • Enterprise GuideTM software (all versions up to 7.1)
  • SAS StudioTM software (all versions up to 3.6)
  • SAS® Integration Technologies (including BI Server)

General answers can be supplied to you for your questions about the following SAS software components:

  • Web Report, DI, IML, Forecast StudioTM software
  • Enterprise ReporterTM software
  • Enterprise MinerTM software
  • IT Service VisionTM software
  • SAS/EIS® software
  • SAS/FSP® software
  • SAS/IML® software
  • SAS/INSIGHT® software
  • SAS/IntrNetTM software
  • SAS/MDDB® server
  • SAS/SHARE® software

Your agreement:

  • You will pay £720 including taxes for your questions to be answered for 1 calendar month from the day your payment is received.
  • You can specify up to 5 of your email addresses that can be used to send your questions, either directly or via the web site to
    sas.answers@hollandnumerics.com, but these must all be specified with your order to make sure your specified users can all start using the service immediately.
  • Each of your questions should normally require no more than 1/2 hour to answer.
  • Only 1 question from you in any of your emails is recommended, which ensures that the answers to all of your questions are never delayed unnecessarily.
  • No limit is currently in force on how many of your questions can be asked in 1 calendar month.
  • Your answer will be sent back to whichever of your email addresses was used to send your question.
  • No data processing can be carried out for you. However, you can send a small sample dataset (<50kb) attached to your questions emailed directly, although not to your questions emailed via the web site.
  • Every effort will be made to send an answer to your question back to you within 48 hours of receipt of that question.
  • Unfortunately, Holland Numerics Limited cannot accept responsibility for any problem caused by the implementation or operation of your code that you have not thoroughly tested and approved.

Click here to download a PDF copy of the agreement and request form.

You can also subscribe now with PayPal:

Options:

  1. Monthly subscription – [sas.answers @ Holland Numerics] monthly subscription = £720.00, including taxes:
    Please register from 1 to 5 of your email addresses using this service below, separated by commas or spaces:
  2. Single question – [sas.answers @ Holland Numerics] single question payment = £72.00, including taxes:
    Please type your SAS-related question here (max 200 characters):

    Please remember to type your email address below to receive an answer to your question. You will also be emailed if more information is required to answer your SAS-related question:



My blog and forums are open for business in their new premises!

On 28 March 2017 I completed the migration of my blog and forums to a new server. You will not have to do anything different to access the new server, as it is all managed transparently by my router.

The new environment is protected by an uninterruptible power supply, and has an increase in its available disk space. I’m hoping that the chance of future interruptions has been dramatically reduced.

Alongside the blog are 2 forums where you can ask questions:

(1) The SAS Skills Discussion Forum is included when you register for the Free membership, and is where you can ask questions about SAS skills, but not SAS coding problems.

(2) The SAS Programming Forum, which has a very small subscription cost, is where you can ask SAS coding questions, including those from homework and interviews. This forum also includes a growing SAS course in the form of small topics. There are currently 3 main sections to the SAS course: Data Steps, PROC SQL and macros, but more are being developed.

What happened in Orlando?

As usual I ran a prize draw this year at SAS Global Forum in Orlando for a copy of my latest book, which was won by Matthew Hoolsema from Carnegie Mellon University from 49 draw entries.

Matthew Hoolsema won a copy of my book in Orlando

The sad part was that my well-thumbed sample copy, which allowed everyone to see what was in the book, was taken during the conference, so I will have to replace it with another brand new copy before my next free draw, instead of using that new copy as a prize. I must admit that I find it extremely annoying when a company can pay $100s to $1,000s for the conference registration, travel and accommodation, but nothing for a $40 book!

The conference’s Kick-Back party was held at Disney Hollywood Studios at the end of the 2nd full day of the conference after the public had left. I’d last visited this park in 1999, when it was called MGM Studios. Some of the “exciting” rides, which I have never enjoyed, were open, and my favourite show from 1999, “Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular”, was still there, but disappointingly closed for the evening! Fortunately, unlike previous Kick-Back parties, the noise levels were low enough to permit normal conversations, so my voice was still OK the following morning for my presentation. You may remember that in March I said that I was presenting “Making Validation of Graphs Easier: The Benefits of ODS Graphics” at the conference on 5 April 2017. The video recording of my presentation can now be viewed on the SAS web site, along with several of the other presentations, and my paper, slides and sample code can be downloaded from this blog site.

Next year SAS Global Forum will be in Denver, Colorado. I’ve never been there before, so I’m looking for some suitable topics for new presentations. Any suggestions?

Why don’t SAS development teams talk to each other?

We all know that SAS develops its software in separate teams, but it can be really annoying when it becomes apparent that several associated teams haven’t planned together how a SAS procedure will work.

I’m going to take as an example PROC IMPORT, which is part of Base SAS, but is also included in SAS/ACCESS. When you run the following program all the variables created begin with VAR, i.e. VAR1, VAR2, VAR3, VAR4, VAR5, etc., and this would also be true for DBMS=TAB and DLM:

PROC IMPORT FILE = "test.csv" DBMS = CSV REPLACE;
  GETNAMES = NO;
RUN;

However, using similar PROC IMPORT code for DBMS=EXCEL, in SAS/ACCESS for PC Files, will create variables beginning with F, i.e. F1, F2, F3, F4, F5, etc.:

PROC IMPORT FILE = "test.xls" DBMS = EXCEL REPLACE;
  GETNAMES = NO;
RUN;

More shocking though is using PROC IMPORT code for DBMS=XLS or XLSX in UNIX or Windows, in SAS/ACCESS for PC Files, as this will create variables with no prefix at all, i.e. A, B, C, D, E, etc.:

PROC IMPORT FILE = "test.xls" DBMS = XLS REPLACE;
  GETNAMES = NO;
RUN;

This inconsistency even extends to using GETNAMES = YES too when there are multiple columns with the same label.

If you want to import a CSV file, instead of an Excel file, or indeed import an Excel file in UNIX, then the subsequent processing step will have to be updated to use the new variable names (annoying!). Why can’t the procedure be consistent, or, at least, have a parameter, like PREFIX=, that allows users to choose the prefix?

Back in SAS 6 there were monumental problems caused by each SAS procedure having to manage their own output destinations, and each one doing it in a slightly different way, so ODS (Output Delivery System) was introduced in SAS 7 to make the output interface separate from the procedures. SAS now need to develop standards for parameters and defaults, just like they did for output!

To vote for this to be included in the next SASware Ballot just click here and vote up the idea!

Warning: you may need to use a desktop browser to vote up the idea! 🙁

Do you have any examples of similar inconsistencies in SAS?