Well, I probably have one of the strangest life of any SAS programmer i know. I grew up in northeast-brazil, my mom and dad were baptist missionary and I didn’t come to the US until I was about 15 years old, but I’ve had a fascination with technology since I was a kid, I use to take a bunch of cord electronics and try to build things out of it. Right I came to the US and finished high school, I talked my way into a mainframe computer operative job, I work there for about a year and a half before I joined the navy, that’s where I first got introduced to the concept of programming, back in those days, we didn’t have any fancy languages like SAS so we programmed in LISP, a very much like an assembly language. After doing the navy, I became a nuclear power-plant operator and run power-plant and submarines for about 20 years and during that time I continue tutoring with computers as my hobby, I’d program anything with a keyboard, HP calculators that you could program, there was a version of IBM Selectric typewriter that had a magnetic card attachment you could program it with and actually I turned my hand into microcomputers, working on the Apple II, Atari Stacy, commodore64, Atari ST, and eventually the IBM series. During my stay in the navy, I worked a couple of programs for the navy itself, I did some share-work on my own, but when I retire from the navy, I want to work on Newport news shipbuilding where I found that they were using a programming environment called SAS on their mainframe to collect data about testing so I tapped myself SAS and I convince them to hire me as full-time application developer on the mainframe and I worked in having manufacturing shipyard for about 5 years, before I came to Capital One. Capital one hired me on as their SAS Jedi so to speak my job was to help other SAS programmers write more effective and efficient back in the early days of Big Data when efficiency was something really important, Capital one was like on the cutting edge of using data for decision making. In 2003, I came to work for SAS and I initially serve as the Director of technical services for SAS in America and Caribbean because I can speak Portuguese and eventually found this job teaching as a SAS instructor which I have to tell you is the best job I’ve ever had so I intend to do this until somebody makes me stop. In the process, I’ve published several SAS courses, written SAS courses, I’ve written several papers for the SUGI and for SAS Global Forum, I’ve written a book on mastering the SAS DS2 procedure: Advanced Data wrangling techniques which is now on its second edition and I sporadically posts Jedi SAS tips to the SAS learning post wall. That’s pretty much my career path so far.
I actually find that most people in the SAS world had unique paths, they come to SAS from someone in different in discipline that makes it a fascinating place to work because they all have this different viewpoints on how to solve a problem, every time you’re into a discussion with a group, you never fail to learn something.
Sure, I think the first tip I’d put out is to never stop learning, it’s tempting after you’ve been programming in SAS for several years to become complacent or comfortable with the things that you know but SAS is a rapidly developing platform and just because you’ve been doing something someway for years and it still works doesn’t mean it’s still the best way of doing it so don’t be afraid to modernize your techniques and to learn something new every day. The second thing I would say is for those who want a career in SAS is get certified, having requested the third party attest to your technical skills will certainly make you move on and it will give you more self-confidence on your own skills too to know that you’ve been validated by someone besides yourself. And finally, I would say get involved with SAS communities (communities.sas.com), there’s a huge group of people available worldwide and somebody’s on there 24/7, those people include very experienced SAS users and all the way down to (inaudible) that know very little about SAS and SAS staff also. You could learn so much in the communities and get answers in SAS questions you have and you get great satisfaction by helping someone else answers their own questionnaire, that would be my third tip.
Well, I guess as to the guy who wrote the book in the DS2 procedure, I’d be a sad man if I didn’t say it was my favorite. I love the new DS2 language, It lets me use all the things that I learn to do in Data Step in new ways. It has enough objectitorian design behind it where you can easily make re-useable code and not worry about contamination and other things that happen when you try include coding in SAS program. It allows me to do threaded processing right on the base SAS platform without having to have any extra tools, so anything that is computed bound I can speed up really fast and easy. And finally, I love its ability to consume data from extra-resources at for position, I like to say that if you want to compute the US national debt right now to the nearest penny, it can’t be done in base SAS because base SAS numerics are double position floating point and I have a maximum of 16 digits of position and unfortunately the numbers are much higher than that. It’s not just that, In the world today, we deal with these much larger numbers much more frequently. In databases, we’ve had a decimal data type for ages that can’t handle much higher positions than floating point can. Now with DS2, we can manipulate those data types too, including things like pie-chart, well that’s kind of exactly.
So the first thing that I would say is if you know Data Step and the little SQL, you’re really going to be comfortable with the DS2 language, so don’t be afraid of it. There is a most recent version of the documentation on has been on split-up into two, one in language reference and another one is a programmer’s guide, and the programmer’s guide is a lot more user-friendly for people who are getting started with concepts and things. Number two, You can use DS2 straight up in any versions of SAS 9.4, any of the main entries, so you can do a lot of the DS2 stuff right in SAS university edition if you want, and it’s for free if you know about it. We have, in my bag, you can get it by the way at sasjedi.tips believe it or not. The series of blog-posts that I write, many of them have to do with DS2, so they can help you get started with that and if you want to read about it, of course, I would recommend my book, it goes in the great detail of DS2 and it doesn’t assume that you know anything about it when you start and about the time you get done you have a pretty well-rounded command for that procedure.