Doctor, I have this friend who has a pain right about here


We have all heard the old joke about the person who sidles up to a doctor at a party and describes in great detail a medical problem a "friend" is having in order to get free medical advice.  It could just as easily be a person buttonholing an accountant for free tax advice, a lawyer for free legal advice, a personal trainer for free fitness advice, a CEO for free business advice, a chef for free cooking advice, a financial planner for free investment advice, a dietitian for free dietary advice, a college professor for free educational advice, and so on.  But, what about free SAS programming advice?

The good news is that if you have a question about SAS programming, you don't have to sidle up to a SAS expert and ask it in a roundabout way. There are a number of great venues where you can ask SAS technical questions directly and have them answered by SAS experts from the US and from around the world.  And, the only cost to you is the several hundred keystrokes you expend writing a concise description of your problem with supporting information such as:

  • The portion of your SAS program in question
  • A snippet of the log showing an error, if applicable
  • The version of SAS you are using
  • The operating system you are running SAS on

Here are some of the facilities available to help SAS professionals with their programming questions:

  • Support Communities on -- There are very active discussion groups with titles such as Base SAS Procedures, SAS Macro Language and Data Step, ODS and Base Reporting, and many more.  Users post their programming questions and then SAS experts from around the world and from SAS post possible solutions.  Questioners usually get many and varied answers to their questions.  This web-based community even has its own document titled "How to ask a Question in SAS Support Communities?" to help lead you through the process if you are new.  You can access the SAS Support Communities via this link.
  • SAS-L Listserv.  This oldest medium for SAS Q&A is realized as an email listserv.  You subscribe to the SAS-L listserv, and then when people post questions and answers, all subscribers get the messages.  SAS-L has a very loyal base of SAS experts who usually jump on questions immediately with answers from many different angles.  The web site has a good write-up on how to subscribe to SAS-L.
  • LinkedIn SAS Groups.  There are over a dozen SAS discussion groups on LinkedIn.  Some notable ones for Q&A are:  SAS Professional Forum, SAS Programming Tips, and SAS Author: Phillip R Holland.  These discussion groups are conducted much the same way as the previously mentioned Q&A sites, but also include articles of general interest to SAS programmers.  The LinkedIn home page is:
  • Code Clinics.  Most of the SAS Local Users Groups (LUGs) and SAS Regional Users Groups (RUGs) feature a "code clinic" at their meetings.  The code clinics are staffed with SAS programming experts who can help you with programming problems one-on-one.  They are expecting drop-ins, so bring your SAS questions and sidle-away.

There are doubtlessly other web sites and other facilities out there in the big wide world where SAS users will be glad to pitch in and help answer your questions. But, the list above is a good starting point.

Hey, as long as I have you here; I have this friend who is interested in competing in his first triathlon; you wouldn't happen to know anything about training for one would you?


About Author

Michael A. Raithel

Senior systems analyst for Westat and SAS Press author

Michael A. Raithel is a senior systems analyst for Westat, an employee-owned contract research organization in the Washington, DC area. An internationally recognized expert in the use of SAS software in mainframe and UNIX environments, he is the author of over 25 SAS technical papers and is a popular lecturer at SAS Global Forum and at regional SAS conferences. He has written four books for SAS; the most recent book is How to Become a Top SAS Programmer. A copy of the first edition Tuning SAS Applications in the MVS Environment, resides in the Smithsonian Institution of American History’s Permanent Research Collection of Information Technology.

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1 Comment

  1. Thanks Micheal for sharing this tips! I hope all SAS users take advantage of these great resources as well attend SAS conferences for face to face interactions with the SAS experts!


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