Date: Tue, 8 May 2007 15:19:26 -0600
Reply-To: "Barz, Ken" <Ken.Barz@INTRADO.COM>
Sender: "SAS(r) Discussion" <SAS-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
From: "Barz, Ken" <Ken.Barz@INTRADO.COM>
Subject: Re: SAS language idiosyncrasies
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Hmm. I've never been one to hold my tongue on what I think are the
limitations of SAS. However, I think this is kind of on par with
throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. (and might I
recommend a review of the proc sql documentation?)
SAS is a pretty old language that's carrying its legacy baggage along
with it. That said, I believe it's held up pretty well for itself.
(Who uses Fortran or Cobol for new development anymore? I use SAS every
day along with other/newer languages.)
And as far as being among the "worst" languages, I would much rather be
I guess my main SAS gripes are that people like to force solutions in
SAS that would be more effective using something else (perhaps giving
them job security.) That and I never seem to get on anywhere that wants
to spend the money to really do SAS right. My kingdom for BI!
From: SAS(r) Discussion [mailto:SAS-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Sent: Tuesday, May 08, 2007 2:47 PM
Subject: SAS language idiosyncrasies
Bjarne Stroustrup once said that there are only two kinds of
* those people always bitch about and
* those nobody uses.
I searched SAS-L for any criticism of SAS and found almost none!
That's kind of strange since I know that SAS is widely used.
I have used SAS since it came out on the market in the early 70's. At
the time, I was delighted with the DATA step which saved me from
writing silly little FORTRAN programs to manipulate my data into the
form expected by BMDP. That DATA step is the main reason SAS blew all
its competitors out of the water. The rest, as the saying goes, is
history. Alas, when a product becomes dominant, it often endows its
developers with an undesirable arrogance and a tendancy to respond
"That's the way we do it!" to all suggestions for improvement.
I only realized the problem with SAS many years later when I studied
closely other programming languages:
SAS is probably among the worst widely used languages I
The bulk of the examples that I offer as evidence are better
easier to read on my blog than they can be in this e-mail:
. . .
I can go on like this for a while, but I think you get the idea.
The strange thing is that people who use SAS on a day to day basis
tend not to see how unnatural it is. It looks like the Sapir-Whorf
hypothesis in action.
( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sapir-Whorf_hypothesis )
But isn't it true that all the old languages have their quirks?
No! While it s true that Cobol and Basic will rot your brain because
of the paucity of their features, many old languages were either done
right from the start, or evolved into coherent ones: LISP, for
instance, SQL, C or R (an interesting alternative to SAS for doing
statistics). Together with more recent languages like Java, or Ruby,
they are much more consistent than SAS.