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Home » Coding & Data, Enterprise Guide

SAS Enterprise Guide: Are You a Member of Programmers Anonymous?

Submitted by on 2013-03-06 – 4:52 AM

Hi. My name is Quentin. I’m a SAS programmer. And I’m starting to like SAS Enterprise Guide.

In the years since SAS introduced Enterprise Guide, there has been a lot of controversy and hard feelings in the SAS programming community. Many programmers see Enterprise Guide as a tool for newbie programmers, or non-programmers who want to point-and-click their way through an analysis.


Some companies have chosen to replace their PC SAS licenses with SAS on a server and Enterprise Guide licenses, a transition which (if mismanaged) can lead to outraged programmers who feel like their tools are being taken from them.  There have been several threads on SAS-L which started with someone writing to say “help, my boss is taking away PC SAS and forcing us all to start using Enterprise Guide.”  And the responses typically range from outrage, to pity, to resignation that few bosses who have decided to save money by cutting PC SAS licenses have been convinced to reverse their decision.

Despite the apparent ambivalence with which many SAS programmers have approached Enterprise Guide, there have been a number of user group papers that encourage programmers to transition to using Enterprise Guide.  I have been programming in SAS for about 15 years.  This past year I have probably spent about 50% of my SAS time in Enterprise Guide, and to be honest, I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

My next few posts will be a little mini-series sharing things I like about using Enterprise Guide as a program editor/development environment, as well as some recommendations.  I invite you to respond with your own tips or suggestions in the Comments section.

Enterprise Guide User vs. SAS Programmer

Part of the inspiration for this post was a MWSUG paper, Using Enterprise Guide Effectively. There is a lot of good information in the paper. But I disagree with its central theme, which is that programmers working in Enterprise Guide should become EG Users, rather than programmers:

New EG users that are experienced SAS programmers are often tempted to open an EG program object and key in statements just as they did in the SAS Display Manager program editor. Effective use of EG rests on not writing SAS code. In fact, the rule for EG is:

Avoid programs and custom code like the plague. (Emphasis in original)

Enterprise Guide is a tool. It’s up to you to decide how to use that tool. If you choose to use it as a point-and-click interface, which allows you to build jobs from process flows without writing code, that’s your choice.  These posts will give show you some tricks you may want to implement when you get in a tight spot. However, if you are a SAS programmers using Enterprise Guide as a SAS programming environment, then come along to learn some other ways to use the tool or just be a member of Programmers Anonymous!  [Check the Enterprise Guide tags to see more Enterprise Guide tips from this blog.]

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Quentin McMullen

Quentin McMullen has been programming in SAS for 15 years, and for the past year has been working on SAS BI projects. He has presented at national and regional SAS user group conferences, and can often be found corresponding with colleagues on SAS-L.
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