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10 Proven Tips for Finding Success with SAS

Jul 3, 2023 | Article

In a presentation during PharmaSUG 2023, Catalyst Flex’s Lisa Mendez, PhD, principal statistical programmer for biometric resourcing, was joined by Richann Watson, from DataRich Consulting, to share insights on enhancing skillsets for SAS programmers. The experts presented ten coding techniques that can significantly boost efficiency and effectiveness. This blog post will summarize Lisa and Richann’s tips and highlight their practical applications.

Tip 1: Add quotes to text strings: by adding sections around each token in a text string, programmers can simplify data manipulation tasks and ensure accurate results. 

Tip 2: Create column headers with PROC TRANSPOSE: utilizing the TRANSPOSE procedure allows for dynamically generated column headers based on specific values, enabling flexible data transformations. 

Tip 3: Set missing values to zero: Lisa and Richann advise avoiding cumbersome if-then-else statements by concisely assigning missing values as zeros to streamline data processing. 

Tip 4: Short-hand techniques for variable lengths and initialization: discover time-saving shortcuts for assigning distances to consecutive variables and initializing them as missing, enhancing code readability. 

Tip 5: Calculate visit-day differences: efficiently calculate the difference between actual and target study days while considering scenarios without a day zero. 

Tip 6: Reading variables into macro variables with PROC SQL: PROC SQL should be leveraged to read variables from a dataset into macro variables, enabling flexible and dynamic programming. 

Tip 7: Extract data from multiple Excel worksheets: To streamline data integration, users should unlock the potential of the XLSX engine to read data from multiple Microsoft Excel worksheets seamlessly. 

Tip 8: Check file existence: Lisa and Richann encourage programmers to avoid unnecessary errors by implementing existence checks before opening files, a handy tip when opening Microsoft Excel files. 

Tip 9: Utilize the DIV function: division operations can be simplified by utilizing the DIV function and eliminating the need for manual checks on dividing by zero. 

Tip 10: Abbreviate frequently used SAS code: teams can boost productivity by utilizing abbreviations for commonly used SAS code snippets, reducing typing efforts and improving code readability. 

In conclusion, these SAS coding techniques offer programmers valuable shortcuts and best practices. By implementing these tips, you can enhance your programming skills, improve code efficiency, and streamline your data analysis workflows. Remember to explore each technique in detail to unlock its full potential. 

Read the full paper here.

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