A custom tasks book: by the numbers


Milestone achieved: I've completed the final chapter of Creating Custom Tasks for SAS Enterprise Guide using Microsoft .NET and turned it over to SAS Press for editing and production. It's scheduled to be available in early 2013.

I committed to writing this book nearly 5 years ago. I'll engage in more navel gazing about this process in some future post; I'll use this post to share some metrics (some useful, some not) about the final result.

I used Microsoft Word to create and edit the chapters of my book. Did you know that Microsoft Word keeps track of several interesting properties of your documents? If you right-click on the document in Windows Explorer, select Properties and then the Details tab, you'll see what I mean:

I figured that there must be a way to "harvest" these values automatically, and...I was correct! (Thank you, Internet.) I used this scripting technique in Windows PowerShell to create a CSV version of several of these fields for the book chapters.

I imported the CSV file into SAS Enterprise Guide, and used the generated program as the basis for this SAS program, which you are welcome to review.

I learned a few things in the process, some of which I suspect aren't exactly true. Or perhaps they are simply misleading. Here's what the numbers say about the book:

  • There are 17 chapters. (That's a fact.)
  • These 17 chapters underwent a total of 434 revisions. (That number is suspicious, and discounts chapters that got broken out of other chapters or merged along the way.)
  • The book has 257 pages (not counting front/back matter, adjustments likely for images resizing, using the "small" book profile/page size).
  • A better metric: the book contains nearly 66,000 words.
  • There are approximately 60 pictures/screenshots.
  • First chapter file was created on 22JAN2008 and final revision happened on 29SEP2012. (That sounds about right to me.)
  • Total "editing time" according to Word: 10,572 minutes. That's about 176 hours. That feels like a low number to me, but maybe it depends on how Word works with its timer.

In addition to all of the writing, I developed several beefy examples as companion material. Some of those examples have been presented already on this blog as ready-to-use tools (like this one and this one). Soon, those readers who are interested will have a behind-the-scenes look at how the tasks are put together.

I'm excited to be on this side of the writing process, though there is still much work yet to do. Thanks for sticking with me so far; you'll see more examples and excerpts coming via this blog over the next few months.


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. Aimee Rodriguez on

    Looking forward to getting the word out about your book once it's available, Chris. In the meantime, congrats on getting to this point!

  2. I'm glad to see my question at SAS Professionals UK gave you the inspiration to finish this book ;)

    If SAS publishing need anyone to test the code example out or proof read it, give me a shout.

    I look forward to getting my hands on this book in the near future.

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