New and Updated: Papers, Philly Page

Aug 10,
View Dictionary Tables Reference Card

This is an updated (for V9.2) version of the Dictionary Tables and View "reference card." It goes beyond the simple "describe table" output of PROC SQL and identifies typical values, whether a field is populated for non-native datasets, and so on.


Aug 3,
View %whatChanged

The behavior of a reliable macro requires, among many other attributes, that it not leave any unintended files, reset options, and the like behind once it terminates. %whatChanged describes the motivation, logic, coding, and use of a macro that reports datasets and global macro variables present before and after a macro executes. The report helps the macro developer identify any unexpected (and, therefore, potentially harmful and disruptive) "leavings". While the example program in the paper focuses on comparing pre/post datasets and macro variables, it could be readily extended to other items of interest such as titles and footnotes, catalog entries, and the like.


Sept 17,
View Macro Debugging

The SAS online help file contains this wonderful sentence:

Because the macro facility is such a powerful tool, it is also complex, and debugging large macro applications can be extremely time-consuming and frustrating.

How could you not want an opportunity to use this somewhere, even if it means writing a long paper?!


Sept 6,
View Updated Philly Web Page

Started as a reply to people who thought I lost my mind when I said I was leaving Chapel Hill, the Philly web page has taken on a life of its own. Over the past couple of months it has grown to include links to historical archives, restaurants, area attractions, and "much, much more." If you ever loooked with some skepticism at Philly as a place to live (and who hasn't), take a look at the updated site.


Sept 6,
View define.XML Paper

Most pharma programmers are familiar with define.pdf, which describes raw and analysis data sets submitted to the FDA. Data submitted in the CDISC SDTM format are described by define.XML. This paper describes the XML "family" of technologies (XML, XSD, and XSL) and how they are used with SAS to create define.XML. As the title says, it's not easy, and it's not just SAS.


July 3,
View Updates to the Name Collection

I've updated the collection of how my name has been misspelled over the years. This page has always been the site's page view champ.


June 3,
My New Zealand Office on Google Street View

One of my happiest and most interesting work experiences was 2+ years spent in the MIS group at the Bank of New Zealand. A few weeks ago, on a whim, I entered "Wellington, New Zealand" in Google Maps. Incredibly, the intial view for the city was looking dead-on at my office! Look at the picture below or click "View," to the left, for the larger, navigable city map: there it is on second floor, fifth window on the left (and please don't wonder how I remember these things 27 years later, I just do ...).

Sadly, the building appears to have been converted to a shopping arcade. Rotate the view 180 degrees to see where the Bank moved in the last year I was there. Pan up to about the middle of the building and that's my other office. We had morning and afternoon tea in a break room that overlooked the mountain-ringed harbor. Work in those conditions almost never seemed like "work."



June 2,
View Updated Contact Page

The "Contact Me" page has been updated with link to my profile on


March 6,
View The SAS Communications Mother Lode

SAS Communications hasn't always been a glossy mag it is now. In fact, in the old days its appearance was, to be kind, rather homely. This link is a collection of many of the earliest issues. In some cases the viewing quality leaves something to be desired, but it's worth the effort. You can read profiles of the staff (indeed, early issues used to list the entire staff!), marvel at innovations such as variable labels, squint to find the low-key hype about the first SUGI, and on and on. The first issue came out during the Watergate years, so you can understand why "seasoned" SAS users might get a case of nostalgic sniffles.