The book writing business: Kevin Smith tells how an experienced developer wrote an introductory book


If you’ve been following along this year, you know that I spoke to Sanjay Matange last month. Sanjay has a top-selling book to his credit and juggles work, speaking engagements and book writing.

Another SAS employee who will soon add “Author” to his name is Kevin D. Smith. Kevin is the author of the soon-to-be-released book, PROC TEMPLATE Made Easy: A Guide for SAS Users. Kevin has worked as a software developer at SAS for over 15 years, and he knows PROC TEMPLATE inside and out. So, he was clearly the person to write about the topic. But once I saw the final manuscript, I was blown away. I wondered how difficult it is for someone with his experience to write for an introductory audience.

So I asked Kevin, "As an experienced developer, how difficult was it see things from a beginner's perspective?” Here is his answer, in his own words:

“That was actually one of the trickier parts of writing the book.  I've been maintaining PROC TEMPLATE since 1997, so it's almost second nature to me at this point. There hasn't been a lot of material written about PROC TEMPLATE outside of conference papers and the reference material supplied by SAS.  I think that people have developed a lot of misconceptions about PROC TEMPLATE because of this, and that is the main reason I wanted to write this book. 

PROC TEMPLATE Made EasyMost of the templates that people start with are the ones supplied by SAS.  However, those are written by people who are well-versed in template writing, so starting with those as examples can be very daunting.  Rather than looking at expert-level templates, the book looks at each template type from the ground up.  I begin with templates that have nothing in them, and build from there.  That way, you know what every added piece of code does and there are no mysteries along the way.  By the time you get to the end of each chapter, you will have seen every technique used by template writers within SAS and can dissect the templates supplied by SAS, if you need to.  For the most part though, once people understand more about PROC TEMPLATE, I think they will feel more comfortable writing them from scratch.”

View a free early chapter from Kevin Smith's forthcoming book PROC TEMPLATE Made Easy: A Guide for SAS Users.


About Author

Shelley Sessoms

Community Manager

Shelley Sessoms is a community manager in the Customer Engagement Marketing division at SAS. She also curates the SAS Learning Report and SUGA Download newsletters and contributes to the SAS Users blog. During her 19 years at SAS, she has written numerous customer-facing communications, as well as helped close to 100 employees and customers become authors through the SAS Press program.

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