Sunday, October 4, 2015

Phil Holland's New SAS Book is a Programming Tour de Force

SAS Programming Professionals,

The latest book in Phil Holland’s Power User’s Guide series, SAS Programming and Data Visualization Techniques, is an unmitigated tour de force.  It contains fourteen fact-filled chapters covering three very relevant main topic areas:  Programming and Efficiency Techniques, External Interfaces, and Data Visualization.  As with the other books in the Power User’s Guide series, this book is written in Phil’s authoritative, but conversation style and has lots and lots of code examples that illustrate real-world SAS programming solutions.

There are so many usable programming gems in this book—even for very experienced SAS programming professionals—that it is hard to call them all out in a brief review.  However, three specifically come to mind because they can save any organization much more than the price of the book. 

·        Part I: Programming Efficiency Techniques, Chapter 1: The Basics of Efficient SAS Coding.  In this chapter, Phil discusses speed versus low maintenance.  It is a very nuanced discussion that should make seasoned SAS programmers reconsider what they might have thought was the obvious choice.
·        Part II: External Interfaces, Chapter 4: SAS to R to SAS.  Because of its powerful statistical and graphic capabilities, its low price (it is actually free), and its popularity in academic institutions, R has gained entry into the programming infrastructure of many organizations—including my own.  So, sooner or later you are going to need to interface with R; and when you do, you will reach for the examples in this chapter.

·        Part II: External Interfaces; Chapter 8: Everyday Uses for SAS Output Delivery System (ODS).  The section titled Disguising a Web Page is absolutely brilliant and worth the price of the book.  I have bookmarked that page and already begun using this simple, but deeply clever technique in my own SAS programs.

My prediction is that when you purchase SAS Programming and Data Visualization Techniques:  A Power User’s Guide, it will not sit in your programming bookshelf between other SAS programming books.  Instead, it will be beside your keyboard on your desk with pages dog-eared and a dozen yellow sticky-notes protruding from various pages.  Mark my word!

Best of luck in all your SAS endeavors!

(aka Michael A. Raithel)