Yeah! What he said!

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SAS programmers can often be (um...let's see...how best to put this...) set in their ways -- at least when it comes to their SAS work.

This is due in part to the nature of SAS. The SAS program that you wrote 20 years ago in Version 5 probably still works today in Version 9.2. As a technology company, SAS is big enabler when it comes to allowing customers to keep what they've got going and not forcing them to adopt new technology. That's a strength of SAS, but it has consequences. It means that our long-time users are not forced to take an in-depth look how our offerings have been modernized over the years. (Example: check out these 10 reasons statisticians should consider SAS 9.2.)

I frequently have the opportunity to introduce SAS programmers to SAS Enterprise Guide. They sometimes approach it with skepticism and trepidation. It looks a lot different than what they are used to. But the thing to remember is this: SAS Enterprise Guide is a tool that is meant to help you be more productive, to lift you out of some of the more tedious aspects of programming so that you can concentrate on your specialities, your domain area of expertise. Its role is not to remove programming from your job, but to help you to organize and focus on the tougher problems.

In a recent interview, software pioneer Dan Bricklin talks about tools that enable programmers and the important role they play. Here is an excerpt:

All of the professional-level languages are in the hardest category, as I put it. They are for professionals. They give you the most power. What the development environments do though is take care of some of the tedious manipulation. And they give you better ways of being able to define various data structures and things like that. From a programmer's viewpoint, it is a major step in lowering the complexity in terms of dealing with things -- you can deal with things that are much more complex. As programmers, what we do is we usually go to the level of complexity we can handle. So if our tools let us make things easier, we go up to that same level complexity and can do a lot more than we used to, because of the leverage of the tools.

If you're a programmer (of SAS or of any language), you've got a right to expect tools that make you more productive. Is SAS Enterprise Guide the ultimate SAS programmer tool? I'm not saying that yet...but I personally believe that it's the most comprehensive SAS productivity environment that exists today. And we're sure working to make it your go-to application for crafting and running SAS programs. Our goal is to help you get more out of your SAS investment.

P.S. In an unrelated thread, SAS tech support notified me today of a problem SAS Enterprise Guide 4.1 has when viewing the output of PROC DIF, a SAS procedure to import DIF (Data Interchange Format) files. DIF was developed in the 1980s for use with VisiCalc by -- guess who -- Dan Bricklin. SAS Enterprise Guide 4.2 fixed the reported issue, by the way. Rest easy, DIF users; we got your back.

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Chris Hemedinger

Senior Manager, SAS Online Communities

+Chris Hemedinger is the manager of SAS Online Communities. Since 1993, Chris has worked for SAS as an author, a software developer, an R&D manager and a consultant. Inexplicably, Chris is still coasting on the limited fame he earned as an author of SAS For Dummies.  He also hosts the SAS Tech Talk webcasts each year from SAS Global Forum, connecting viewers with smart people from SAS R&D and the impressive work that they do.

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