Interview Arthur S Tabachneck, Ph D, SAS GURU
In this interview with top SAS programmer Arthur S Tabachneck, Tabachneck discusses some of the most valuable tips, techniques, and strategies required to become a top SAS programmer. First and foremost, he suggests you learn how to program a computer to do anything – general programming logic. He also recommends learning the languages of computer programming and coding, so you can more easily pick up the languages of SAS. Tabachneck also discusses in length about the importance of being active in online communities and helping others in the field. Though he is now retired, Arthur S Tabachneck uses this interview to inform potential SAS programmers that the best techniques for being successful are: learning the essential building blocks, being active on SAS discussion forums, and giving presentations which force you to learn the material you are presenting. Arthur Tabachneck has a great personality and informative interview to help get any beginning SAS programmer on the path to success.
Arthur S Tabachneck
For me, top strategy goes back years ago and one technique not just for SAS but for learning any kind of program like SAS is to know how one programs a computer to do anything; so general of programming logic. I started with computers, again we’re going back years ago and now we’re back in my high school days. My first experience with computers was wiring IBM accounting. If you are not familiar, do a Google search for the IBM 401 accounting machine. And when I went back to get my Bachelor’s degree, I’d learned how to program in basic. Throughout my schooling besides learning SAS and SPSS, Biomed, and other packages that were available at the time, I had to learn to program in basic Pascal Fortran and I’m sure numerous other languages that I have forgotten since then.
But knowing how to get a computer to do something was critical in my mind for being able to easily pick up a language like SAS or SPSS. Once you’re ready to do that, the main help I found in learning those languages was working with them. Simply trying to find out how you could solve any problem that you happen to have by doing a quick….now those too are basics. So the built basic golden blocks which I consider the first step is learning a language like that.
A second critical help for me was being active on online communities, helping other people. For me trying to help others solve problems actually was the best way back then for me to learn those languages as well as helping other people trying to do the same thing. And that holds true today. A language like SAS grows every year and there’s no way anyone can be expert in all that SAS is. And so it’s a continual learning curve. And going on forums like the first one that I was familiar with was the one called SAS-L; Which was basically a built-in board that people would put questions on, the rest the world in that area would try to help folks answer; well show them how to do whatever it is that the person was trying to accomplish.
SAS-L still exists but I think it’s declined in popularity. It’s kind of an old mainframe type of logic. Well not logic but mainframe type presentation. And it’s been pretty much replaced by…. SAS started a similar discussion forum that they call the SAS Discussion Forum or SAS Communities. And to this day I still post occasionally on SAS-L and quite a bit on the discussion forums. And like I said I’m retired so it’s not for me trying to reach any career goals, but more accommodation of playing it forward if you will by answering other peoples’ questions. But just as importantly it’s the way I keep aware of what problems are people confronting; what solutions are they using and for me learning what’s available and how to solve problems using a language like SAS.
The other thing: Presentations! And so throughout my career whenever I’ve had a chance to present a solution to a group, I would. Whether I’d be at a local level or regional level or an international level. When you have to write a paper or present a paper about a topic, at least personally for me to be comfortable doing that I’ve got to know the topic. And so preparing and presenting such a presentation forces you – unless you want to look like a fool, to learn that topic as well as you can. Well it’s very much like teaching. So that you are comfortable presenting, can answer questions and just as importantly know when to say: I don’t know that answer.
That combination of the 3: so the building blocks, the discussion forums – which is another way of saying talking with community, sharing; and presentations, I think are the 3 most or aspects of learning a language like SAS.