1 Introduction

This document provides a basic introduction to the SAS system and the handling of data through the Data Step. No previous SAS experience is assumed. Users will need to have a licensed SAS Base product or the free SAS University version installed to run the examples. Further information may also be found through the SAS Forums and SAS Blog posts. A useful introductory text is The Little SAS Book: A Primer.

SAS is a system of data analytic tools encompassing data management, statistical analysis, graphics, reporting, and publication. SAS can be run on many different operating systems and through various user interfaces. This document will focus on running SAS in a command line framework in a Windows environment, although the basic SAS information here will translate across operating systems and interfaces. For users of Apple Mac systems, SAS can be run through either the SAS University installation mentioned above, or through a Windows SAS version installed on a virtual OS package such as Parallels Desktop (This requires a copy of Windows as well). This introduction does NOT cover SAS JMP, which is a separate point and click product for similar SAS analytical tools.

2 The SAS Windows Environment

When starting a SAS session, the user will be presented with several windows. In the default configuration, two overlapping windows on the left hand side are called Results and Explorer. In the demonstrations below, these windows are closed for better clarity and they will accessed separately as needed. The remaining windows represent the three basic components of a SAS session: An Editor, a Log window, and a Listing or Output window. The Editor is where SAS commands (programs) will be written and run. The Log window will provide a history of each program as it runs. This is useful for identifying errors, warnings, and general information about the results of the program being run. The Output window will provide a text version of any printed output from the program, such as analysis results, data printouts, etc. In more recent versions of SAS, this window has become somewhat redundant as a newer output presentation format is now available. These newer and cleaner looking outputs will automatically open up in a new window called Results Viewer when a program is run. By default, these results are produced in HTML, which can be viewed in the default SAS browser or any Web browser set by the user.

I find that reorganizing the SAS windows from their default positions and sizes is more productive. I prefer to close the Results and Explorer windows, and to make the Editor window the largest and the Log and Listing windows smaller and not overlapping. This allows me to easily see the code I am writing and watch the Log and Listing windows as needed. Each window can be accessed from the labeled tabs at the bottom of the screen.