NESUG 25 In Review

I had a great time at NESUG 25!  Great networking opportunities, excellent papers/presentations, and a tremendous amount of support from SAS itself.


As always, there were a number of terrific papers.  The full proceedings are now posted.  I won’t attempt to direct you toward the “best” papers, since one person can only manage to see a subset.  The great thing about the proceedings is, you can read it all.

I did want to give a big public thank you to everyone who volunteered to be a Section Chair.  These wonderful folks do a ton of work throughout the year reviewing submitted abstracts, providing guidance to authors as they develop papers and presentations, and then of course running the sessions during the conference.  Many thanks to you all!

Spotlight On SAS

One of the presentations I always look forward to is the Spotlight on SAS (I think previously called “SAS Futures Forum”).  This is a casual, open question and answer panel with SAS Institute folks taking questions from the audience.  This year the panel had Vince Del Gobbo, Paul Kent, Rick Langston, and Maura Stokes.  It’s a great way to get an understanding of where SAS is headed.

What did I learn?  Keep in mind this was a casual, unscripted discussion, and below is from my notes / intrepretation of what I heard.  So anyone else who was there should feel free to correct / expand.

A number of SAS products were described as “functionally stable.”  As I understand it, this means SAS will keep supporting them, and will keep doing bug fixes, but there will not be development resources dedicated to enhancing these products.  Why not?  It’s mostly a resource allocation game…

  • Display Manager interface to SAS is functionally stable, user interface development resources will be directed toward Enterprise Guide.
  • SAS/IntrNet is functionally stable, development resources directed toward BI solutions.
  • SAS/GRAPH is functionally stable, development resources directed toward ODS graphics / graphics template language.

Again, the above products are not being discontinued.  In my experience SAS does a great job maintaining backwards compatibility.  But you shouldn’t expect to see big enhancements in them in the future.  Which is helpful to know.  Personally, I’ve been leaning on SAS/GRAPH for a long time, and hadn’t made the jump to ODS graphics.  So this is probably the push that I needed to get started.

It also came up that at some point SAS will likely stop making new versions of 32 bit Windows SAS.  SAS 9.3 is available now in 32 bit and 64 bit versions.  9.4 is anticipated around SAS Global Forum time next year (April 2012), and will also be available in a 32 bit version.  But it’s clear that at some point (9.x or 10.x), SAS will only be releasing a 64 bit version.  So making the jump to 64 bit SAS is a question of when to do it, not whether to do it.  If you’re thinking of making the jump, Chris Hemedinger has a great post on some of the potential hiccups you might hit, and just found this PowerPoint from him as well.

Looking even further into the future, SAS is playing with a web app version of Enterprise Guide.  As I understood it, this would be zero-client, running EG through a browser.  That would certainly lower administration costs, for companies supporting lots of EG installations.

Code Clinic

Ron Cody and Elizabeth Axelrod

As mentioned in a previous post, I volunteered to help out in the Code Clinic.  As  a Code Doctor, you get a white lab coat and laptops with SAS on them, and anyone can walk in and ask questions they brought from home.  For a shy programmer like me, it’s a great way to meet people, and chat about random SAS topics.  And this year I was psyched to be paired alongside Ron Cody for my time in the code clinic.  I’ve been a fan of Ron’s since my first read of Cody’s Data Cleaning Techniques Using SAS.  So it was an honor to work by his side.  As proof here is a snapshot of Ron in his lab coat, alongside Elizabeth Axelrod, who runs the Code Clinic, is president of the Boston Area SAS Users Group, and taught me how to batch submit a SAS program when I was just getting started with SAS.  Thank you Elizabeth!



As always, the SAS Demo Room included a great display from SAS Publishing, with books available at a 20% discount.   It’s a great opportunity to browse through their catalog, and also get advice from other users on what books they have found helpful.  I added copies of the following books to my collection:

And, during my time as a Code Doctor, I walked a number of “patients” over to the SAS Publishing display and recommended several books:

  • SAS Functions By Example.  After seeing Ron’s talk where he mentioned the power of the new modifiers available for the COMPRESS function (and others), someone asked where they could learn more about how to use them.  Well the docs are great, but so is Ron’s book about functions.
  • PROC SQL by Example: Using SQL within SAS.  After seeing a talk on SQL, a woman said, “what I would really love would be something which compared SQL joins to SAS merges.  For example, how does a LEFT JOIN translate into a MERGE?”  I didn’t hesitate to recommend Howard Schreier’s book.  It has SQL code and DATA step code side by side.  If you already know DATA step, and want to leverage that knowledge in learning SQL, this is the book for you.
  • Building Business Intelligence Using SAS: Content Development Examples. Was chatting with someone new to BI, who wanted a general description of what they might want to do with BI tools.  Tricia and Angela’s book was my entry point to SAS BI, and I think it’s a great starting point.
  • Output Delivery System: The Basics and Beyond.  Someone had a question about  footnotes wrapping oddly when they used the tagsets.ExcelXP output destination.  Unfortunately I couldn’t help much, but luckily Cynthia Zender was sitting at the next table.  So I brought the person right over to Cindy, who solved the problem, and then I happily recommended this ODS book she co-authored, which I think of as my ODS bible.
I also learned that SAS is making a big push into eBooks.  And, discovered that since my employer subscribes to Books 24×7, I already have electronic access to a lot of great SAS eBooks!
Of course since it’s a conference, not only are the books there, there are lots of great SAS authors in attendance as well.  Of the seven books listed above, I had conversations with five authors during the conference.  I know I said I’m shy, but even I couldn’t miss out on an opportunity to ask for one-on-one advice from such great SAS minds.

Hope to See You Next Year

Many thanks to everyone who came together to make this conference such a success.  This includes the conference chairs, Lisa Pyle and Rob Russel, Section Chairs, presenters, SAS employees, and attendees.  I always learn a ton from the conference, from both the formal presentations and hallway chats.  I’m already looking forward to next year’s meeting in Burlington, VT.  Hope to see you there!

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