SAS programming for the faint of heart


When we published the first edition of SAS For Dummies a couple of years ago, we received feedback from readers around the topic of SAS programming. In the book's introduction, we stated that the book doesn't cover the SAS programming language, but that there are many other fine books that do.

There were two main reactions:

"Wow, look at all of the SAS stuff I can do without having to write programs!"
This crowd appreciated learning about the SAS features in SAS Web Report Studio, SAS Add-In for Microsoft Office, and SAS Enterprise Guide that they could use without having to dive into programs. For these readers, we helped to debunk the persistent myth that SAS is difficult to use.

and then there was this...

"Hey, what kind of SAS book doesn't cover SAS programming?"
SAS has its roots as a programming language, and a SAS book that doesn't cover that? Inconceivable!

You know what? I tend to agree with the second crowd. There is no way that SAS For Dummies will turn you into a SAS programming expert, but I believe that we would do well to introduce you to the concept of a SAS program, how to run an existing program, how to read and understand its contents, and to put you onto the path of learning more, if you choose to do so.

And so for the second edition, we added a new chapter, "SAS Programming for the Faint of Heart". These are the topics that we cover:

  • Demystifying the SAS Program
  • Running (a Program) before Walking
  • Reading the Log: SAS Is Telling You Something
  • Dancing the DATA Step
  • Following Procedures
  • A Micro Look at Macro Programming
    • Dipping your toe in with macro variables
    • Going deeper with macro functions
  • Ask Your Data Questions Using SQL
    • Subsetting: Make your data smaller
    • Do the math: calculate and group
    • Joining the crowd: combine tables
  • Putting It All Together in a SAS Mashup

The chapter presents several examples and builds up to this example "mashup" of SAS programming constructs.

We would love to get your feedback on these changes and on the book in general. Someday we may be asked to provide a third edition, and your opinion matters. We know the truth: you are no dummy.

Tags SAS dummy

About Author

Chris Hemedinger

Director, SAS User Engagement

+Chris Hemedinger is the Director of SAS User Engagement, which includes our SAS Communities and SAS User Groups. 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


  1. Hey there - I would like to become a SAS programmer so that I can find work within the Pharmaceutical/Clinic Trials Data Processing field. I love detail oriented work as well as working with computers. What's the best way to become SAS certified - or the equivalent so that I could be able to market myself?

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