Madison Avenue has a new phrase to describe the things they are trying to sell to us: artisan crafted. These days, there are artisan crafted breads and rolls, artisan crafted beers, artisan crafted coffees, artisan crafted soaps, and a host of other artisan crafted products. Artisan crafted seems to have taken over from the word “scratch.” There was a time when it seemed like every commercial wanted you to know that their products were “made from scratch”; many of them made from scratch daily. While many of the same products are likely still made from scratch, apparently they are now done so by crafted artisans.
Dictionary.com (www.dictionary.com) defines artisan as:
- a person skilled in an applied art; a craftsperson.
- a person or company that makes a high-quality or distinctive product in small quantities, usually by hand or using traditional methods: our favorite local food artisans.
And, we don’t need a dictionary to know that “crafted” means fashioned, or created, or made.
So, what does this have to do with SAS? Well, when you think about it, the SAS programs that you write from scratch are actually artisan crafted. Sound a bit farfetched? Think about it.
You use your personal knowledge of SAS to hand-craft a new program. That program has to be specifically tailored to input the unique shape of the incoming data; whether it is stored in SAS data sets, tables from a relational data base, flat files, or spreadsheets. The program must be precisely written to subset, sort, merge, or summarize the data as required. The program needs to be customized to perform the particular calculations detailed in the specifications either in DATA steps or within SAS procedures. The program has to be custom-made to get the fully processed data into the proper shape for output. Then, the program needs to be fashioned to produce the distinctive result set specified by your users; whether it is a report produced via the Output Delivery System, a SAS data set, or a data set in a different format.
Come on; stop smiling; it’s true! If you have been programming in SAS for a while, then your SAS programs are indeed artisan crafted. If you don’t think so, then make it a point to start giving them your own distinctive flair.
You can include artful touches in the programs you write that express both your own unique outlook and your own SAS craftsmanship. Perhaps it is in the way that you construct a comment block at the top of a program. Maybe it is how you use the SQL procedure to sort and merge instead of using PROC SORT and a DATA step. Possibly, it is in the clever way that you macrotize a complicated program so it can be used by your colleagues. Or, it may be the way that you adroitly use PROC REPORT in conjunction with the Output Delivery System to create professional-quality reports. Whatever the case, your knowledge of SAS and your own unique perspective allow you to create SAS programs that are as distinct as you are. So, be proud of your own SAS programming artistry the very next time you write a SAS program.
I hope you enjoyed reading this blog; it was artisan crafted!
Be sure to take a look at Michael Raithel's latest book How to Become a Top SAS Programmer.