Five things a SAS user should know this week

Note: This blog post is cross-posted to the SAS User's blog. Going forward, posts about changes to will appear only in the SAS User's blog and this blog location will retire quietly into world of dead links.  Please follow me to my new blogging home and continue providing great feedback to Enjoy!

5 -- SAS 9.4 M3 and 14.1 are available
4 -- Communities will go to read-only status from August 31 - September 7
3 -- SAS 8.2 Samples and SAS Notes have been archived
2 -- SAS Talks series combined with Ask the Experts series
1 -- Survey: What tasks you do most on a web site?

5   SAS 9.4 M3 and 14.1

The most recent maintenance and platform updates from SAS became available in July 2015. SAS 9.4 delivers a more highly available and resilient platform for deploying SAS in traditional on-site environments along with additional support for private and public cloud deployments. With the third maintenance release of SAS 9.4 (9.4M3), we're also delivering the 14.1 releases of the SAS analytical products, which means rich new features and enhancements for products such as SAS/STAT, SAS Enterprise Miner (including SAS Factory Miner), SAS/ETS and others.

Need More?
Overview SAS 9.4 and the analytical products
What's new in SAS 9.4
Highlights of the 14.1 products
Request it

 4   Communities will go to read-only status

We are upgrading our support communities to modernize the design and add new features that you’ll love. In order to do this, will be in “read-only” mode from Aug. 31 – Sept. 7, 2015. But don’t worry, and don’t leave us! You can still search our extensive archive for answers. With more than 200,000 posts, you will likely find the help you need. You just can’t post or answer new questions until Sept. 8. But the wait will be worth it…trust us!

Follow the announcements on to keep up with all of the news.

  SAS 8.2 samples and SAS Notes have been archived

We have separated the notes and samples pertaining specifically to SAS 8 from the SAS 9 samples and notes content. What does that mean to you? By concentrating the search only on content written for SAS 8, you receive less results and those that you do get will be more relevant to you as a SAS 8 user. If you are still using SAS 8.2, it means that you can visit the Samples & SAS Notes page on and scroll down to the SAS Version 8 search box. Enter your search term or phrase and find your content.

This is also good news for users of SAS 9. How many times have you searched for a note only to find a note specific to an earlier release? Judging for the search comments we receive, I'd say that this happens a lot. By archiving the SAS 8 notes content, we believe that we have improved your experience because all of your results will be specific to SAS 9 releases.

Note: It is possible that you will find broken reference links to a SAS 8 note from time to time. We are working diligently to locate and correct these links. If you do find a broken link, use the Feeback link to drop us a note about the link and we'll take care of it.

2   SAS Talks series to merge with Ask the Experts

SAS Talks is a Webinar series that has provided great content for several years. Many of you register to participate in a live Webinar where you can ask questions of the presenter. Many more of you watch the recorded Webinars at a more convenient time when you are ready to explore the topic. None of that is changing. So what is changing, you ask. Well, the name for one. Soon you will no longer find SAS Talks in the navigation of, but you will start to see more and more of Ask the Expert. Each Ask the Expert event starts as a live event that requires registration. Like the previous SAS Talks events, you will be able to ask questions of the expert presenter. You can also review an index of previously recorded sessions and watch on demand.

1   Survey: What tasks do you do most on a web site?

You know how much we love to get feedback from those of you who use our web sites, right? Well, we are at it again. We have compiled a list of 90 tasks that span everything from "apply for a job with SAS" to "open a Track with Technical Support". We hope to get lots of people with all levels of experience with SAS the software as well as SAS the company to complete this survey. We also want a worldwide audience, including English speakers and non-English speakers. You only get to select five things (see how 5 is a theme this week) that are your primary tasks. The goal is that you can complete the entire survey in under 10 minutes.

Take the survey!

Copy this link (  and share it with your friends.

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Appearing for 3 days at the Quad...

SAS Global Forum 2015 is just a few days away. Many of you are making plans and deciding what presentations to attend, how to connect with old friends or meet new ones, and just how to pack your cowboy hat and boots. This will be the first SAS Global Forum that I've missed in several years; I'll be off enjoying my family; you'll be enjoying SAS Global Forum either in person or via tweets and videos.

But don't worry. The Customer Support Web team will not be absent from this year's conference. Three of my colleagues will be in attendance. Visit them in the Quad. Just look for the User Survey. You can't miss them. Let me be the first to introduce you to Jennifer, Cathy and Lainie.

Jennifer, Cathy, and Lainie

Jennifer, Cathy, and Lainie

Visit them at the booth in the Quad and talk to the SAS staff there. We want to hear your opinion on topics like the following.

  •  What does your ideal search experience feel like on
  •  How much would you use on your phone or tablet if it were more mobile-friendly?
  •  Did you notice the new look on What did you think?
  •  If you had to name one task that you wish you could accomplish on, what would it be?
  •  What two tasks do you perform regularly on

In return for your feedback, let us show you a few cool things. These are a few of my favorites, but there are many more. Just ask Jennifer, Cathy or Lainie when you see them.

  •  A one-stop shop for all of the information you need, arranged by product.
  •  The Syntax Index for fast access to SAS language element definitions and examples.
  • The (brand new!) Macro Language Reference page for everything macro.
  • The SAS Communities site where you can ask questions of folks just like you will at SAS Global Forum, only every day all day.
  • The SAS Global Forum 2015 Proceedings. (You'll have to visit the Customer Support Home page for this link after SAS Global Forum starts.)

Keep in touch

I'll miss seeing you all, so drop me a note here or on Twitter (@hrenee) and tell me how things are going. Be sure to visit the team in the Quad. There is so much that we can learn from each other. Let's not miss a single opportunity.

boots A packing tip from me to you -- just wear those boots and hats. They're much safer and take up way less room that way.

Shameless plug for two of my favorite SAS Global Forum events: The #SASGF15 #Tweetup and the Communities Linkup

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This is not just another pretty face

Sometimes you just need a new pair of shoes or a brand new hat. Something so small can add a pep to your step and allow you to see new opportunities in the same old places. Don't believe me? Try it. We did and I can't wait for you to see what we've been up to.

We took the site that you use every day and spruced it up. In a way, we gave it a new pair of shoes and a hat. Visit the site anytime after Thursday morning, April 16th and see for yourself. All of your favorite content, your bookmarks, and your applications are right where you left them. They just have a fresh new look. The new look brings more alignment between and, making the transition between the two sites less shocking and easier for you to explore information from SAS. Here's a glimpse of the new top navigation on

The new, open look for the header

The new, open look for the header

In addition to the fresh new look at the top of all of the pages, we've created a new footer at the bottom of all pages.  This footer provides a collection of links to commonly used content on both and These links make it easier for you to move from one area of to another with fewer clicks and interruptions in your activities. We looked at usage numbers and listened to your comments then selected a collection that we think will be useful on your daily usage.

The new multi-link footer

The new multi-link footer

We've done our part to give a little extra pep. Now its your turn to try it out and let us know what you think. As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

Have a comment? Leave a comment on this post. Look for the Feedback link in the footer and send us your comment. If you are attending SAS Global Forum, visit the booth in The Quad. My colleagues will be there waiting to show you all the great features and to gather your feedback.

Thanks for using SAS and!

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Shaping with your help

You may have seen the many pleas and reminders for you to take the survey and help improve You may be wondering why you continue to see them.  Well, the answer is simple:  It is important to us to hear from as many of you as possible before we start making changes.  So far, we have heard from about 75 of you and we are grateful for each and every completed survey. But we're greedy and we want to hear from more of you.

You see, the last major update to was done in 2007. (It's OK to gasp at that.) Sure, we have changed a few section titles, added a few more sections, and updated the look of a few pages, but the general behavior and look of the site hasn't changed.  In those seven years, SAS software and services has changed.  We believe that the Customer Support web site needs to change:

  • to keep up with what you expect from your software vendor
  • to keep up with how you use our software
  • to improve how you use our site
  • to better serve users who do not speak English as their first language.

Your feedback will help us change the site for the better to best serve your needs. If you take this very short survey, you can tell us how we are doing and what you think we should do differently.  The survey offers a couple of open text boxes for free-range thinking. Please take advantage of these opportunities. Nothing is better than the comments that you provide in your own words.

Feel like the survey doesn't address what you want to say? No worries. Here are some options for providing more feedback:

  • Add a comment to this blog post. I'll be watching.
  • Comment in the community post about the survey. We're watching there too.
  • Send a message using the web feedback form on
  • Don't forget the free-range text box at the end of the survey.

Wait! There's more.  The last question on the survey asks if you are willing to participate in testing and feedback as we start to contemplate the possible changes. We hope that many of you sign up to participate. We promise to be respectful of your time.

I'll share our findings here after the survey closes.  Here's what we know so far:

  • Many of you have been using the site for a long time.
  • You use the site to read documentation.
  • You use the site to research error messages and problems with your installation.
  • You wish the site was a little more user-friendly.
  • Most of you are fairly successful in completing the tasks that you attempt on the site.

We are grateful for those of you who have already completed the survey. Can we double our participation number in the next 4 weeks?  The survey closes on September 22, 2014. Please take the survey and encourage your coworkers and SAS friends to do the same.



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Find your stuff with My SAS

I am forever putting something down and not remembering what I did with it.  I solved this problem for my keys by putting a cute little froggy key hook next to the door. My keys go there as soon as I get home. But at work, I don't have a key hook for all of the things I need to find again later. I've tried all kinds of things from sticky notes to internet docs to bookmarking sites. 

Do you have this problem with your SAS information?  If so, can help.  Last year, we introduced My SAS on The guiding principle for My SAS is to give you a froggy key hook of your own and to install it on every page.  Let's look at what it offers.

To access My SAS, go to and log in. Once your login is established, the My SAS option will appear at the top of the page.  Select the My SAS link and get started.

What My SAS currently offers

We have provided you with three collections of links that all take you to some place on that can help you to manage or explore your relationship with SAS.  These are handy, but still not quite a key hook.

Below those three groups of links, you may see a list of your most recent open tracks, your active elearning courses, a list of your subscriptions, and our newest feature, the ability to store content links as bookmarks.  The image below is what the bottom half of my My SAS looks like.

What your My SAS may look like.

Custom My SAS items

Each item  contains a link to the right that takes you to the location where you can manage your content.  Note that you will not see My Open Tracks or My Training unless you have active tracks with SAS Technical Support or active eLearning modules from SAS Training.

The list of items under My Subscriptions represents all of the SAS newsletters to which you are subscribed.  Selecting the newsletter title displays the most recent edition so that you can read current content anytime.  If you don't have any current subscriptions, select the Manage Subscriptions link and find a newsletter that interests you. 

My Bookmarks requires a little more work by giving you the opportunity to add bookmarks from any web property that you like.  To start adding bookmarks, select the Manage Bookmarks link.  You will be able to add links and give them names.  You can also create folders to group your bookmarks into logical groups.  Once you have more than five bookmarks, you can select a few favorites. Your favorites will display on the main My SAS page.

All of this information will be waiting for you anytime you log in to the SAS web site using your SAS web profile; just like my keys are always right there on the froggy hook.

What do you think?

Thanks to customer participation in a focus group, we know that we have some work to do, and you gave us a pretty good roadmap for how to get there.  Until we reach our destination, My SAS is available for you to start using. Take a look. Use it. Think about it. Tell us what you think we can do to make this feature more useful. 



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Your Lucky Day: Getting to Know the SAS 13.1 Analytics Products

You will never find me walking under a ladder, spilling salt without then throwing a pinch over my shoulder, or letting a penny remain on the sidewalk; I'm incredibly superstitious. In general I consider the number 13 to be unlucky. I'm not quite in triskadekaphobia territory, but I'm not too far afield.

This should help you understand why it's such a big deal that I consider the recent release of the SAS Analytics products (the release is numbered 13.1) to be anything but unlucky. The 13.1 releases of these products are included with the first maintenance release of SAS® 9.4.  With this release, you'll get enhancements in statistics, econometrics, forecasting, quality improvement, optimization, and high-performance analytics.

In short, our developers have been hard at work delivering major improvements to the software you've come to know and love: SAS/STAT®, SAS/OR®, SAS/IML®, and  SAS Enterprise Miner, just to name a few.

As luck would have it, we've updated the support site with key documentation, A-Z Product Pages (SAS/STAT, for example), and the Statistics and Operations Research Focus Area, where the folks on that team have done a terrific job of pulling together a comprehensive overview of the release.  We'd encourage you to bookmark that last page and be sure to read through all the highlights. Once you do, you'll be ready to join me in embracing the number 13. Point 1.

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Four things to remember when opening a track with SAS Technical Support

~ Contributed by Pam Schiltz, Technical Support Consultant, SAS

As a Technical Support consultant with 24-years of service, you might expect me to know it all.  But sadly, this is just not the case.  Software has changed so fast in 24 years that I could barely keep up.  So I am always learning, not only new products and features, but also better ways to analyze the facts that you provide in your problem descriptions.  Adding up the clues you reveal is the “Sherlock Holmes” portion of my job, and one of the most rewarding parts for certain.  After a recent critical thinking course taken by many Technical Support staff members, I thought through the questions/answers that I find the most valuable in problem solving SAS issues.  I added these questions to some of the basic information we always need for users and came up with this list for submitting a thorough request to Technical Support.  I hope these practices promote an efficient process for resolving your concerns.

The following are my insights and best practices for you to use when you electronically submit a concern to SAS Technical Support.

Always describe your environment.

All inquiries to Technical Support should include basic information to help us understand your environment. Please include:

  • The SAS products that you use.
  • The versions of the products that you use.
  • The operating system of your computer.
  • The operating system of your SAS server computer (if applicable).
  • The site number that is associated with your software.
  • The order that was used to install your software (if known).

Be as detailed as possible when you describe your concern.

Technical Support defines a "problem" as a "situation in which an expected level of performance is not being achieved". If you have a problem, start by answering the question "What is wrong with what?".  This is a good statement to use as the subject of your submission.  For example:  "New user cannot login to Enterprise Guide" or "PROC SQL generates error message 'xxxx'.

Then, provide details that help us understand the problem's specifics.  Consider providing answers to these questions:

  • What do you see that indicates there is a problem?
  • What were you expecting to happen?
  • When does it happen (what do you do to create the problem)?
  • Did it ever work as expected?
  • How often does it happen? Frequency? 
  • Who is it happening to?
  • When did it begin happening?

Attach supporting documentation.

  • If you are presented with an error, please send the ENTIRE log that includes the error.
  • If you are presented with an error box that directs you to a log file for further details, please send the referenced log.  This is very common during installations.
  • If you are encountering a problem with the behavior of a software product, create a screen capture of the condition.

Describe any steps that you have taken to solve the problem yourself.

If you have taken steps already to solve your own problem, please let us know the results.  It is often very beneficial to know what testing you have already performed so that we can compare your results to the problem as well as avoid asking you to repeat steps.  Let us know if you have tested on other machines, tested with other code or data, applied hotfixes, or followed instructions from a SAS Note, for example.

When submitting a request to SAS Technical Support, be sure to use the above guidelines to help us serve you better.

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Welcome to Happenings - Your Place for All the Support Buzz

~ Contributed by Judi Rourke, R&D Web Developer, SAS

Take a minute to swing by our newly named Happenings page on the web site! Dedicated to our SAS users – it’s your one stop for information about everything from the latest technical blog posting to where the next gathering for SAS users will be held to the most recent RSS feeds. It's information that will help you find ways to make SAS software work best for you.

Interested in learning more about how to use SAS Enterprise Miner or getting  programming tips about sub-setting data with a WHERE statement? Happenings is your link to all the educational and free webinars from SAS Talks. Find out what’s coming next or watch an archived webcast now.

Want to learn about the newest course from SAS Training? Hot off the press books from SAS Publishing? Tried and true techniques from SAS Tech Support? Tips and work-arounds from experts here at SAS? Happenings has links to all your favorite newsletters and blogs. We will highlight articles every month that will peak your interest. You can even leave your own comments at the end of a blog - let us know what you are doing and how you are doing it.

Written  a technical SAS paper you would love to share with other users? Or maybe you want to find a group of local SAS users to connect with? The Users Groups section in Happenings provides all that information in one location.

Each month we will put the spotlight on someone or something that represents the best of SAS. It might be an interesting blogger or a special event or someone who is a key contributor to SAS - it could be someone like you.

Happenings will be constantly updated with the most current events, webinars, technical information and more. So be sure to stop by often and let us know what you think!

Happenings screen shot

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A day in the Life of a SAS/STAT developer

~ Contributed by Warren F. Kuhfeld, Sr Manager, R&D,  SAS ~

I love the classic Beatles song, A Day in the Life, and the line: “Woke up, fell out of bed, dragged a comb across my head.” I am a member of the SAS/STAT development team, and this is a day in my life. After I wake up and fall out of bed, my typical day begins in the state park a few hundred yards from SAS where I go for a run or bike ride before heading to the SAS onsite gym and fitness center to shower, drag a comb across my head, and get ready for work. I will spend time today working on one of the over a dozen SAS procedures that I support in whole or in part. My areas include linear and multivariate models, principal components, marketing research, and many others. I produce software that automatically fits curves to data (see Figure 1) and produces heat maps (see Figure 2). I make it easy to customize the Kaplan-Meier plot used in survival analysis (see Figure 3). I develop new output styles that control the appearance of tables and graphs in SAS output (see Figure 4). I sometimes travel to meet with customers and present a tutorial on ODS Graphics and other topics. Look for me this year at SAS Global Forum, PharmaSUG, and the Joint Statistical Meetings.

Figure 1: Penalized B-Splines with PROC SGPLOT

Figure 2: Heat Map with PROC REG

Figure 3: Kaplan-Meier Plot with PROC LIFETEST

Figure 4: Finite Mixture Model with HtmlBlue Style

I develop SAS macros for the design of experiments and marketing research and the world’s largest orthogonal array catalog.  These tools enable researchers in areas like marketing, medicine, agriculture, transportation, and the environment to answer questions like how consumers choose products and services and how patients choose medical treatment options.

As a senior developer and manager with over a quarter century of experience, I evaluate and ensure accuracy and consistency in our tabular output, graphs, and documentation and assist our younger team members.  We recently made part of our documentation system available to enable our users to create PDF documents with reproducible results. This process is detailed in a SAS Global Forum paper.  My team members have produced two new procedures for the SAS 12.1 release including PROC ADAPTIVEREG, which fits models with multivariate adaptive regression splines and PROC QUANTSELECT,  which fits quantile regression models with variable selection.

When you are a statistician at SAS, each day brings new challenges.  I have been able to work in many distinct areas over the years, and that has been rewarding.  I am one of dozens of statisticians and thousands of developers who contribute to the hundreds of products that SAS provides.  Each of us provides a unique set of talents to our work on SAS software.  It is great to work with such a talented and diverse group of people.  Since SAS is always providing you with new tools and solutions, no two days in the life are the same for any of us.

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Never lose track

The SAS Online Customer Support Home page is like O'Hare International Airport -- once you get there, you can go almost anywhere else. If you have a layover before you leave the airport, you have lots of opportunities for a good meal, some great shopping, and fantastic people watching.  They also make it easy to track the next leg of your flight.  In comparison, if you plan a short layover as you are passing through the Customer Support Home page, you can find lots of opportunities to explore a great SAS technical paper, sample, or video. You can watch other SAS users as they participate in the Support Communities, or find a fast link to your favorite site area. Login to the site as part of your Home page layover and you'll discover our latest Home page feature: My Open Tracks. This feature is our first offering that helps you track your activity with SAS or the SAS web site.

Breaking News [updated February 14, 2013] SAS just added another destination to the Online Customer Support Home page.  Not only can you view your open tracks right on the Home page, but you can now also access your active eLearning and extended learning courses from SAS Training.  You'll find My Training in the same location and with the same look as described below for My Open Tracks.  Let us know if you find these tools handy.

Who sees the My Open Tracks feature?
This feature is available to everyone who has an active conversation with SAS Technical Support and who is logged in to the web site while visiting the Customer Support Home page.

How will I know if I see it?
Each time the Home page loads while you are logged in, your open tracks will slide in from the left and show you a maximum of three open tracks that have the most recent activity.  The image below is a sample of what you might see.  Your tracks are displayed just above the Recent Discussions and Next Step boxes at the bottom of the page.

Shows a page with My Open Tracks loaded

How does it work?
You have several ways to initiate a conversation with SAS Technical Support: using the online problem submission form, calling your local Technical Support office, or submitting an email question.  When your conversation is started, a track is opened and you are given a tracking number.  All further conversations about your question or issue are associated with that number and a valid email address.

If you have a web profile that uses the same email address and you are logged in to the Online Customer Support web site (, you can review the history of that track and any other open or closed track.  All of this is available to you via the Tracks application.  (Learn about the latest updates to the Tracks application.)

Until the addition of My Open Tracks to the Home page, you had to visit the Tracks application or keep up with your conversation using your email system.  Now, when you visit, be sure to go to the Home page, login, slow down, and check on your open tracks right there.  We will securely deliver a list of the latest updates to your Home page.  If you do not have an open track at the time of the visit, nothing will be displayed and you and read the content on the Home page as you have always done.

If you have more than three tracks (maybe you are responsible for monitoring all of the open tracks for your organization) or you want to review a closed track, simply select View all tracks from the gray header bar to access your Tracks application.

What's next?
We have a few ideas that we can develop to help you track your SAS interactions. What we would love to know is this:  what would you like to see to make your life easier as you navigate the SAS site, conduct interactions with difference divisions of SAS, and manage your SAS license?  We hope to show you some of our ideas, get your feedback and release additional features this year.  Until then, let us know what you think and never lose track of an open track again.

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  • About this blog

    Welcome to the blog about SAS online support. Renee Harper (that's me) will keep you up-to-date about new and updated content on, as well as support services and software releases. I'll try to include relevant examples you can use - sample programs and information about how others use SAS. I'll be able to do this better if you join me - this is a place to share your ideas, successes, and frustrations.
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