developer.sas.com 2.0: More than just a pretty interface

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Site relaunches with improved content, organization and navigation.

In 2016, a cross-divisional SAS team created developer.sas.com. Their mission: Build a bridge between SAS (and our software) and open source developers.

The initial effort made available basic information about SAS® Viya® and integration with open source technologies. In June 2018, the Developer Advocate role was created to build on that foundation. Collaborating with many of you, the SAS Communities team has improved the site by clarifying its scope and updating it consistently with helpful content.

Design is an iterative process. One idea often builds on another.

-- businessman Mark Parker

The team is happy to report that recently developer.sas.com relaunched, with marked improvements in content, organization and navigation. Please check it out and share with others.

New overview page on developer.sas.com

The developer experience

The developer experience goes beyond the developer.sas.com portal. The Q&A below provides more perspective and background.

What is the developer experience?

Think of the developer experience (DX) as equivalent to the user experience (UX), only the developer interacts with the software through code, not points and clicks. Developers expect and require an easy interface to software code, good documentation, support resources and open communication. All this interaction occurs on the developer portal.

What is a developer portal?

The white paper Developer Portal Components captures the key elements of a developer portal. Without going into detail, the portal must contain (or link to) these resources: an overview page, onboarding pages, guides, API reference, forums and support, and software development kits (SDKs). In conjunction with the Developers Community, the site’s relaunch includes most of these items.

Who are these developers?

Many developers fit somewhere in these categories:

  • Data scientists and analysts who code in open source languages (mainly Python and R in this case).
  • Web application developers who create apps that require data and processing from SAS.
  • IT service admins who manage customer environments.

All need to interact with SAS but may not have written SAS code. We want this population to benefit from our software.

What is open source and how is SAS involved?

Simply put, open source software is just what the name implies: the source code is open to all. Many of the programs in use every day are based on open source technologies: operating systems, programming languages, web browsers and servers, etc. Leveraging open source technologies and integrating them with commercial software is a popular industry trend today. SAS is keeping up with the market by providing tools that allow open source developers to interact with SAS software.

What is an API?

All communications between open source and SAS are possible through APIs, or application programming interfaces. APIs allow software systems to communicate with one another. Software companies expose their APIs so developers can incorporate functionality and send or request data from the software.

Why does SAS care about APIs?

APIs allow the use of SAS analytics outside of SAS software. By allowing developers to communicate with SAS through APIs, customer applications easily incorporate SAS functions. SAS has created various libraries to aid in open source integration. These tools allow developers to code in the language of their choice, yet still interface with SAS. Most of these tools exist on github.com/sassoftware or on the REST API guides page.

A use case for SAS APIs

A classic use of SAS APIs is for a loan default application. A bank creates a model in SAS that determines the likelihood of a customer defaulting on a loan based on multiple factors. The bank also builds an application where a bank representative enters the information for a new potential customer. The bank application code uses APIs to communicate this information to the SAS model and return a credit decision.

What is a developer advocate?

A developer advocate is someone who helps developers succeed with a platform or technology. Their role is to act as a bridge between the engineering team and the developer community. At SAS, the developer advocate fields questions and comments on the Developers Community and works with R&D to provide answers. The administration of developer.sas.com also falls under the responsibility of the developer advocate.

We’re not done

The site will continue to evolve, with additions of other SAS products and offerenings, and other initiatives. Check back often to see what’s new.
Now that you are an open source and SAS expert, please check out the new developer.sas.com. We encourage feedback and suggestions for content. Leave comments and questions on the site or contact Joe Furbee: joe.furbee@sas.com.

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About Author

Joe Furbee

Developer Advocate

Joe, a Developer Advocate at SAS, acts as a liaison for the developer community to SAS technologies. His enjoys chronicling his journey as he learns SAS and open source integration. Joe comes to SAS with a software development and testing background.

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