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Date:   Thu, 18 Mar 2004 15:58:11 -0500
Reply-To:   Sigurd Hermansen <HERMANS1@WESTAT.COM>
Sender:   "SAS(r) Discussion" <SAS-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
From:   Sigurd Hermansen <HERMANS1@WESTAT.COM>
Subject:   Re: mergenoby: opinions/arguments?
Comments:   To: SAS User <sas@SDAC.HARVARD.EDU>
Content-Type:   text/plain

Casey: In the past I have found it difficult to imagine why someone would want to match-merge or interleave on the physical order of rows in a SAS dataset; that is, I would have voted for the 'ERROR' option. After trying recently to find a way to put a unique key in a SCORE dataset produced by a SAS statistical procedure, I finally gave up and agreed to use a Data step MERGE (Horrors!) with no BY group (INCONCEIVABLE!). SAS statistical procedures in at least some instances generate row-wise computed values in the exact same order of the rows in the source dataset. Matching on physical appears to be the simplest way to link the computed values back to the source dataset. Statisticians, you would think, would not want to paint themselves into a corner with the ERROR option.

I must confess that on rare occasions I do find a better tool for a specific purpose in the Data step MERGE toolbox than in the SAS SQL toolbox. In a Model A world a crank works better than an ignition key. Sig

-----Original Message----- From: SAS User [mailto:sas@SDAC.HARVARD.EDU] Sent: Thursday, March 18, 2004 12:01 PM To: SAS-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU Subject: mergenoby: opinions/arguments?

Hello SAS-lers,

I have been horribly outvoted here regarding our system default for the new mergenoby option. I have stood firm on the philosophy that you do not alter user's defaults for them, despite how beneficial it might be. You can strongly request that they alter their own defaults, sure. I even suggested that we could poll everyone for their preference, and set up a script to invoke SAS with one of the three options for this option, depending on the users id and their response to the poll. This change had been discussed at several meetings, where I eventually gave in and accepted that we will change the default to warning. Unfortunately, I was away for the last meeting where the big-shots here decided that they want the system-wide option to be set to ERROR.

I absolutely refused to do this, as this will cause programs to halt that were correct (in very rare instances here, yes). I don't see the benefit here to have ERROR over WARNING for this option. I haven't yet heard their reasons for this, but I'm assuming that it involves the exit status (UNIX system here- most stats run processes in the background to get an exit status) or the fact that bad programmers might just search a log file for the string ERROR. But you shouldn't alter a default to stop a program because of syntax that might be appropriate because of bad programming and lazy log-checkers.

I'm emailing the list because I have been so outvoted on these issues (as the only programmer against all statisticians), so I'm hoping that folks out there might have stronger arguments than I have gathered. I need to have some mighty ammo for the next meeting. Example: We discussed setting the compress default to yes, until we learned that our old version of DBMS copy can not read compressed SAS datasets. Any arguments regarding mergenoby would be greatly appreciated.

-Casey


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