Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Anybody know anything about SAS

I always enjoy finding out about new programming languages,  so I'm intrigued by SAS[1].  On one programming language chart [2]  SAS is growing big.  In this chart the popularity of a language is measured by the number of google results it generates)

What's it all about?  Any SAS coders out there?

[1] http://www.sas.com/
[2] http://www.tiobe.com/tiobe_index/index.htm

Ged Byrne
Friday, June 25, 2004

SAS = Special Air Service

It's a special branch of the British army responsible for covert operations, behind enemy lines operations, long range recon patrols and hostage rescue.

RP
Friday, June 25, 2004

Actually, they are part of the Air Force I think, rather than the army.

A lot of work they do involves body guarding VIPs. You can bet that they'll be in Ireland now, as George W is in town.

Steve Jones (UK)
Friday, June 25, 2004

They've always been in Ireland. And they're part of the army - they got that funny name to deceive the german army during WWII.

RP
Friday, June 25, 2004

And I was thinking it was the _*A*_merican version of SOS.

.
Friday, June 25, 2004

>What's it all about? 

We use SAS at work. Im not mainly a SAS-programmer, but I've been exposed to SAS in a mainframe<->UNIX integration. SAS is an interpreted language, and its runtime environment is available for multiple platforms.

We use both OS/390 and UNIX based SAS applications to feed data to a web server. It also has its own drivers for connecting to a vide variety of different databases. Again, since we use OS/390 and UNIX in our case its Oracle and DB2.

The programs can seamlessly move data between the databases, I dont know if SAS can join tables from different databases though.

At the end of the day, it allows our users to look up data both on OS/390 DB2 and UNIX Oracle from the same web application without even knowing the difference, or where the data comes from.

Patrik
Friday, June 25, 2004

> You can bet that [the SAS]'ll be in Ireland now, as George W is in town

Do you reckon they'll get a clean shot at him?


Friday, June 25, 2004

LMAO^2

RP
Friday, June 25, 2004

Thanks Patrik,

So is it more of a database tool with its own macro language, and not language in itself?

Ged Byrne
Friday, June 25, 2004

Ged,

As I said, I am not a very seasoned programmer, so I dont really know its limitations. I've seen it used mostly for reporting needs and seamless intergration of databases.

We use it for different reports and it has cubes and stuff like that. Keeps the business people happy :)

Sorry I cant be of more help.

Patrik
Friday, June 25, 2004

What kind of rifle did you use? Were you the pointman?

RP
Friday, June 25, 2004

I used SAS a little at my last job.  It's basically a statistics language that can read datasets and do all sorts of, well,  stats type of things.  The datasets can practically be anything - database tables, excel sheets, csv files, etc.  Additionally, you can output your data to any of those sources.

So to answer your question, yes, SAS is more than a database tool.  Like I said, it's good for stats type of things, but don't expect it to compare to C#, Java, Python, etc in other regards.

sckorpp
Friday, June 25, 2004

Patrick, Sckorpp,

Many thanks for your help.

It has all the hallmarks of being nice niche where rewards can be good.  Barriers to entry, big growth, popular with the business but largely ignored by the techies.  The only other feature I need is plenty of power, which I get the impression that it has. 

Definately worth more time investigating.

Ged Byrne
Friday, June 25, 2004

If this is the niche you want, then SAS has all the power you could want.  I forgot to mention that it has the ability to create charts and graphs based on the data as well (and the ability to save them to files - I don't remember which formats though). 

SAS recently came out with an IDE of sorts for it.  I don't recall the name ( something "EG" pops into mind, but my memory isn't that good), but it supposedly simplifies a lot of the tasks and lets you accomplish them visually.  I never used this product, but some coworkers thought that it was a little buggy at times. 

sckorpp
Friday, June 25, 2004

Be aware that some companies use SAS as a data transformation tool (doing things like changing formats and simple joins that any shell script or Perl script could do). 

That said, SAS is a very powerful statistics and data analysis tool.  The language is a bit funny, and the graphs have way too many options (seriously... but they're all useful).  I've seen it used in risk analysis, data mining, decision analysis, and simple data transformation.

There's a great starter book for SAS, I used it in college and it covered just about everything I needed to know to get going in SAS.  Applied Statistics and the SAS Programming Language http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0137436424/qid=1088166876/sr=1-2/ref=sr_1_2/103-9856623-7925454?v=glance&s=books

Lou
Friday, June 25, 2004

Thanks Lou,

That is great.

Ged Byrne
Friday, June 25, 2004

>It has all the hallmarks of being nice niche where rewards >can be good.  Barriers to entry, big growth, popular with >the business but largely ignored by the techies.  The only >other feature I need is plenty of power, which I get the >impression that it has.

SAS is a multi-billion dollar privately held company that pretty much has the market on statistical analysis... not exactly "niche." But definitely powerful.

Lenny Fitzman
Friday, June 25, 2004

I'm talking about being a SAS programmer as being a 'niche,'  a bit like the one that Lotus Notes developers used to enjoy.  I wasn't thinking of going into going into competition with these guys!

As you say, it is in a multi-billion dollar market.  This makes it a key tool in financial instutions, where there is always lots of cash sloshing about.

At the moment I'm planning to get into the City, and this looks like a useful certification to add to the arsenal. 

Ged Byrne
Friday, June 25, 2004

SAS has also been cross-platform since long before Java.  In my experience, I have used the same program on several platforms without any problems.

Of course I haven't really touched SAS for a couple of years, and my experience was mostly limited to Base SAS.

Scott Stonehouse
Friday, June 25, 2004

SAS is located just up the road from me.  It's supposedly a fantastic place to work, with perks that rival and exceed Microsoft's.  On site daycare, cafeteria with a guy who plays the piano to entertain you while you eat, wooded campus, gym membership, discounted golf memberships ($3000 to join a club that would normally cost $50,000 to join), and many many more.

Side note: I've met one of the founders, a really nice guy, who is involved with the Carnivore Preservation Trust (http://cptigers.org/).

There are packages like MatLab that do some statistical analysis, but the gold standard is SAS.  It's available on multiple platforms (showing my age -- I used it on a Data General Eclipse MV-8000 in college), and the code is portable between them.  The product is a cash cow for them -- if the licensing works the way it used to, you had to pay yearly or the software stopped working.  In return, you got an excellent product and outstanding support.

chiph
Friday, June 25, 2004

I am using SAS at client location currently.

We use it mainly as data transformation tool where we will process data from various sources (Mainframe, JD Edwards, Sybase) to Sybase/Oracle database.

Btw, SAS is very much different from procedure/oop language. They have concept of 'datasets' and dataset is what you will use through out your program. I had really tough time getting used to SAS. But once you learn it, you can write program which does whole lot of things but it still is amazingly compact! :)

JD
http://jdk.phpkid.org

JD
Friday, June 25, 2004

I know that SAS is heavily used in the Pharmaceutical industry, as the FDA requires submissions to use a SAS format.  It's documented so as to give the appearance of not endorsing a specific product, but they all use SAS.  There is discussion of the FDA accepting data in XML, but I have no idea how far that has come lately.

Aaron F Stanton
Friday, June 25, 2004

Interesting,

I got the impression that SAS was something new, but it has been around for years.

Ged Byrne
Friday, June 25, 2004

Of note, SAS recently changed their licensing scheme.  I've heard rumors that my company and others are considering dropping SAS in favor of anything else to avoid paying out the nose.

As I understand it SAS now requires licenses to be purchased in packs of 50.  Not a problem for larger shops, but this might present a problem for smaller shops.  I suggest you look into it before committing to learning the code.

Oh, and doesn't SAS have it's own private golf course right next to the headquarters?

Lou
Friday, June 25, 2004

SAS is great for taking an enormous range of data and pushing it into a known format (probably why the FDA likes it).

DataWorks Educational Research http://www.dataworks2.com/ uses it make flat files and tons of custom reports.

Derf
Friday, June 25, 2004

"purchased in packs of 50"???  Wow...man, that would just suck to be in a small shop that needs SAS to interoperate/compete with the big boys.

Aaron F Stanton
Friday, June 25, 2004

I remember reading that SAS is used by nearly every Fortune 100 company, including the one I work for.  We use it to pull data out of mainframe applications and into Oracle.

My father, a research cardiologist, has used SAS for about 20 years to "crunch his numbers".

It's definitely worth knowing, and would be quite a profitable niche for your career.  Unfortunately, as another poster alluded to, it's not an easy or cheap tool to play with at home.

Ben Allison
Friday, June 25, 2004

They do have a learning edition:

http://www.sas.com/products/le/

Ged Byrne
Saturday, June 26, 2004

Would it be more interesting to talk about the people with guns and desert buggies?


Saturday, June 26, 2004

Definitely. Did you read "Bravo Two Zero" ?

RP
Saturday, June 26, 2004

Yes. I did. It makes our concerns with dicky managers look pretty irrelevant.


Sunday, June 27, 2004

SAS started its live as statistical software (Statistical Analysis System), but has grown quite a bit from there. It is false that you need to get 50 licenses, one will do. However, one never "buys" SAS but rents it on a yearly basis. Each module is sold separately, but you at least require the Base module. In my case, I used to work with the Base, Stat, IML (matrix algebra) and Graph modules. Because the licensing scheme is a pain in the ass, many companies are looking for alternatives.

SAS programming is quite straightforward, but you need to think that you are working with "datasets", reading, writing and operating on them. The Base module is basically a database system.

unc
Sunday, June 27, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home