Learn SAS Programming

If you want to learn SAS, you have to know where to look. There are tons of learning materials out there, Books, blogs, websites etc. Some of them good, some of them not so good. Here, I present the best learning materials that have tought, and still teaches me, SAS programming.

Beginner

SAS University Edition

First of all, if you don’t have a SAS Editor, get one. As a begginner, I suggest that you download SAS University Edition. A free SAS programming tool, that supports all the procedures and functions you want as a SAS beginner such as Base SAS, SAS/STAT, SAS/IML, SAS/ACCESS and some of the features from SAS/ETS. Follow this link to download SAS University Edition.

e-Learning

For the absolute beginner at the SAS programming language, the very first thing you should do is watch the SAS Programming 1 course. This free e-learning course teaches the very basics of the SAS programming language. It covers the SAS framework, the basic SAS syntax, how a program is structured etc. Also, it teaches how a data step is compiled and executed, which is one of the most fundamental tools in SAS. All in an absolute beginners pace. The course provides example data, so you can code along yourself, while watching the course.

If you want to learn about statistical modelling in SAS and you have familiarized yourself with the SAS syntax, SAS also provides a free e-learning statistics course Statistics 1. This online course covers the basic concepts in descriptive and inferential statistics. It covers the most universal statistical procedures in SAS such as the PROC MEANS, PROC UNIVARIATE and PROC GLM.

As a beginner in the SAS language, you should already start to acquire good programming habits, such as using a Standard Header and Indenting your SAS Code. Last but not least, you should start teaching yourself how to use the SAS documentation. SAS provides extremely well written documentation for the functions and procedures in the SAS programming language. Take the time and learn how the documentation is structured with Overview, Syntax and Examples. At some point, this will be your most important source of information in SAS programming.

Intermediate

The intermediate SAS programmer knows the basic syntax of SAS programming. He knows how the data step processes and he is familiar with dozens of procedures and functions. Finally, he knows how to gain knowledge of the procedures and functions he is not yet familiar with, using their documentation.

If you are an intermediate SAS user, now is the time to specialize yourself towards the subjects you like the most in SAS. There are many great sources of knowledge out there in forms of books, blogs, articles and communities.

Books

There are dozens of learning books out there. Some are great, some are not. In my opinion, a good rule of thumb is that if you stick to the SAS Press you will not go wrong. Check out what books are available at the SAS Press Website. You can also take a sneak peak of What SAS Books Are on my Shelf.

Blogs

There are many great blogs out there, but the best ones are provided by SAS themselves. Here, SAS employees write about new features, old overlooked features, beginner tips and nuggets of gold for the beginner, intermediate and advanced programmers. There is something for everyone. Below, I have listed a few blogs that I follow every week.

I like statistics and data visualization. Therefore I follow the Do Loop Blog and the Graphically Speaking Blog closely. The Do Loop Blog is written by Rick Wicklin, who is also the author of the books Simulating Data with SAS and Statistical Programming with SAS/IML Software. If you are interested in statistical programming and analysis in SAS, this is an absolute must to follow. Graphically Speaking is authored primarily by Warren F. Kuhfeld and Sanjay Matange, who is also the author of Statistical Graphics Procedures by Example: Effective Graphs Using SAS. The SAS Dummy and SAS Learning Post are general SAS Programming Blogs with tips and tricks for all SAS users.

Finally, check out the Blog Directory at SAS and PROC-X.com to see what blogs fit your interests the most.

Articles

If you ask an experienced SAS programmer “What is the best website for finding SAS articles?”, 9 out of 10 will answer lexjansen.com. Consequently, this will be my only recommendation on how to find SAS articles. Go to the site and search for what interests you. It would surprise me if you do not find something you like.

Communities

Communities are great if you want to learn SAS. At SAS programming communities, SAS users can post questions for other users to answer. Though many communities exist, I find that the best ones for SAS purposes are sasCommunity.org and Communities.sas.com. I visit both of these daily, to be inspired by other peoples solutions and their ways of thinking, and to contribute and answer posted questions. Both of these communities require that you create a profile and I highly recommend that you do so.

  • sasCommunity.org – Daily SAS tip and especially their Sasopedia Wiki makes this a a great community and worth spending lots of time at.
  • Communities.sas.com – If you want your questions answered by experts, post it here. Browse the link with the different communities and learn from other peoples problems and solutions. Furthermore a lot of SAS employees are active community members, e.g. the authors from the blogs above.

It will amaze you how much knowledge and information you can gather using the SAS Communities. On how to write a good question in the communities, check out my blog post Stuck on a Problem? Ask for Help!

Advanced

The advanced SAS programmer has several years of experience in the SAS programming language. He knows the SAS Documentation like his own back pocket and how to structure a well designed SAS program. Furthermore, he knows many procedures and functions, and if the encounters one he is not familiar with, he knows how to get familiar with it.

I consider myself to be in the field between an intermediate and an advanced SAS programmer. But I keep learning, which is of the things I like the most about SAS. There is always new things to learn and to get better at.

My best advice for the advanced SAS programmer, who still wants to get better, is to keep using the books and blogs available to keep adding tools to your SAS toolkit. Furthermore, I highly recommend using the SAS Communities and start to contribute and answer some of the posted questions. This is great training in using the SAS Documentation because often you will face a question and think: “I am not sure about this, but I can definitely use the SAS Documentation to find out”. This will vastly sharpen your skills in using the SAS Documentation correctly.

Summary

As you can see, there are tons of learning material out there, just waiting for you to pick it up. But be patient and do not jump to more advanced stuff before you have the basics down. And get out of your comfort zove. Way too often I see SAS users do things “because that is the way they have always done it”. Everyone has their own programming habits, but do not let a habit get so stuck that you can not see the alternatives.

Do you know any great SAS learning material that should be on this list? If so, reach out though the Contact Form or at SASnrd@SASnrd.com.