Art Carpenter is a top SAS programmer and author of five books. In this interview, he talks about his beginning with a Masters in Statistics and his path to begin using SAS first in 1977. Throughout his time as an independent consultant, he wrote the books. He did a lot of SAS graph early on, leading to his first book “SAS graph”. He eventually published two titles with SAS graph: 1 on profit report and the McNeil language. In addition to speaking at length about his various books, Art Carpenter also gives future SAS programmers some valuable tips, including: taking a minimum 20 minutes a day to learn something new, stepping outside of your comfort zone, and really looking at the documentation and with the effort of learning it not just to solve the immediate problem. Finally, while he doesn’t have a favorite SAS, procedure, he does love working in the macro language, and he shares a little bit about why that’s so important for early SAS programmers and the challenges involved with macro language.
“Really important i think. A lot of people or that the saying is that you know as you will hear people say: oh ive got 10 years of SAS experience. And I have to always ask: was that 10 years of SAS experience or is it 1 year of SAS experience ten times? And for a lot of people they get caught in a job where they’re doing the same thing over and over again; they’re not really learning and it’s comfortable but it’s not really learning.” Art Carpenter
Well I think the most important part of that is just to keep learning. It’s real easy as a programmer not just in SAS but in any language. We learn how to do something well and that becomes the way we want to you know program or to use that tool that we know well. And it is very easy because that can become a trap. You know if you only a hammer then everything has to look like a nail. And I think the most important thing for us to do, is to keep learning and we have to go outside of our comfort zone sometimes to do that. So we want to force ourselves, actually force ourselves to make sure that we learn. And to do that there is a couple of strategies that I take when am teaching SAS this is what I try to press upon my students is that you need to take 20 minutes a day, a minimum 20 minutes a day to learn something new and you need to go outside of you way to do this. You know it doesn’t count that oh I am doing a PROC PRINT today and oh I learned a new option that ought to account. You gotta go out of your way to learn something new and you need to spend 20 minutes doing it. And you need to go out of your comfort zone to do that; you need to find: what are the things that you haven’t yet done? Maybe you haven’t tackled the DS2 procedure and yeah that is fairly new, it’s pretty complicated. It’s something you need to do and so you gotta take the time to do that. So 20 minutes a day, step outside of your comfort zone and really look at the documentation and with the effort of learning it not just to solve the immediate problem. So those are the things that I think i would suggest.