"In many ways, this book is not about SAS, well certainly it is oriented to the SAS programmer, but it is much more. It is less about the syntax and more about knowing. Knowing the code sure, but also knowing what is going on around us. To be the Top SAS Programmer in our organization, or even one of the better SAS programmers in our group, requires a knowledge that transcends SAS code. But what do you need to know? How much do you need to know? And perhaps more importantly how do you go about acquiring the knowledge needed to achieve the status of Top SAS Programmer-the company SAS guru? These are the topics taken on by Mike Raithel in his latest book, How to Become a Top SAS Programmer (SAS Press 2013).
Throughout the book Raithel encourages us, in a number of ways, to be proactive with our coding, proactive with our learning, and proactive with our engagement with our fellow SAS programmers. No one says that the goal is easy or quick, but like the marathon runner that he is, Mike lays out the course and shows how to finish strong. The status of Top SAS Programmer will not be delivered to you; however, it is something that you can strive toward, and in this book Mike shows you how."
You may think there is "nothing new under the sun" in the publications world with regard to helping programmers become a more valued member of their organization. Take a look at Michael Raithel's new book, How to Become a Top SAS Programmer, to see that this book is truly something new and unique. It fills a void for the SAS user community for sure.
Unlike other books that teach programming, graphics, statistics, etc., this is a book that gives you solid, practical advice on how you can be a better programmer and, even more importantly, how to become a recognized guru in your organization.
This idea-packed book provides you with actionable suggestions on how to advance your programming career, whether you are a beginning programmer or a programmer with 20 years of experience. Raithel makes suggestions such as holding code reviews and developing an in-house SAS user group that will not only benefit the individual, but the company as a whole. In this book, you will find links to hundreds of resources such as listservs, blogs, and SASCommunity.org that will enhance your professional career.
Indeed, this book is truly "something new under the sun."
"I have two reactions to Michael's latest book. First, he is giving away some of my most useful secrets! That rascal! Second, Michael has given all of us some additional tips and inspiration that we can employ to become more valued members of our organizations. In the spirit in which this book is authored, I will relate what kinds of information it offers and why you should buy a copy. The book's premise is that for many users of SAS, one of the most promising avenues for obtaining increased recognition, advancement, and other rewards is to have their SAS skills recognized positively and to give of their knowledge and time for the betterment of their organization. Michael offers suggestions for everyone from students to experienced programmers. I especially liked Michael's exhortation:
Why shouldn't you be the person who gets the most challenging assignments, who contributes the most to key projects,
who gets the top pay, who is sent to training, who management counts on, and who junior programmers look up to?
The answer to all of these rhetorical questions is that there is no good reason to the contrary. You should be the top
SAS programmer in your organization!
So how do you make this happen? In the early chapters, Michael details what you can do. For example:
Learn your craft: Michael provides a roadmap that all can tailor and follow.
Master your environment: operating system, allocating files, and the scheduling of batch jobs.
Know where your raw data is stored and how it is laid out.
Use SAS product documentation, SAS Press books, and Help windows better.
Contribute more to your organization (more below).
One tip brought back my memories of "big iron" days. When I worked for a large Connecticut-based health insurer, knowing when nightly backups were scheduled saved me a lot of aggravation when scheduling overnight jobs. Where I work today, I know to avoid running less crucial jobs during the last few days of the month.
Chapter 6: "What You Can Do in Your Own Organization" is a topic that will be best received by the ambitious SAS programmer who truly takes Michael's exhortations to heart. Suggestions include mentoring, code reviews, setting up an in-house SAS Publications lending library, creating SAS pages on the corporate intranet, and publishing a SAS Tip of the Week. Chapter 7: "SAS Users Groups" is a good overview of the subject. If you do not regularly attend SAS user group meetings and conferences, this chapter bears careful reading. It is usually difficult to become a Top SAS Programmer without exposure to SAS users outside of your organization.
Personally, the least interesting chapter for me was Chapter 8: "SAS Training and Certification". However, for those in other situations, these subjects are useful to those seeking to become a Top SAS Programmer. For those in organizations where the ability to travel and attend training courses and conference might be limited, Chapter 9: "SAS Virtual Communities" should be more useful. Another feature of the tips in Chapter 9: If it is not possible to visit SAS Virtual Communities during the workday, one can do so at home. The final chapter, Chapter 10: "How You Can Become a Top SAS Programmer" pulls the tips and strategies together with encouragement to act. While this book is full of useful information (some not commonly known by experienced SAS programmers such as me), it is not a difficult book to read. So in addition to Michael's recommendations for a basic SAS library furnished in Chapter 5, please include his latest book in your library."
Health Market Science, Inc.
"How to Become a Top SAS Programmer is the title of Michael Raithel's book, but, in addition to providing an in-depth view of how to be as good a SAS programmer as he already is, Michael is ably demonstrating how good an author he is too.
By reading this book to the end, you will have been given a workable plan to turn you into a Top SAS Programmer. However, you also will have been entertained by Michael's writing style, so you won't realize that, behind all of his enthusiasm, he has actually been lecturing you on how to make yourself more productive and your job more enjoyable."
Philip R. Holland
Consultant and Author
Holland Numerics Ltd
"Mike Raithel has produced a rather unique book this time. This really is a guide that can be followed to lead you into becoming a top SAS programmer. Having used SAS myself for nearly 30 years, I can see all the paths that I have tread in the past being laid out and signposted by Mike in this book.
He points out the short-term and longer term value in sharing your SAS knowledge in various ways from User Group involvement to producing SAS Tips for an in-house newsletter. Mike also covers lots of technical areas and, from his vast experience, is able to accurately outline the key important things which you need to ensure that you know if you truly are going to become a top SAS programmer.
I was impressed with what an accurate and comprehensive list he has produced. I very highly recommend this book to all SAS programmers except those who, like Mike, have attained the lofty status of one of the Top SAS Programmers in this world of ours."