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SAS Series 1: See an overview of SAS


Welcome to the quick-start guide! We hope you’ll find a lot of useful information here to get you programming in SAS right away.

This section of the quick-start guide gives you a brief introduction to SAS. Then you’ll get hands-on experience as you go through the guide and experiment with sample SAS programs. At the end of the guide, you’ll find information about other SAS features–be sure to see Additional Base SAS capabilities and SAS solutions.

This overview of SAS focuses primarily on Base SAS, which is the core foundation for a variety of data management and analytical software components offered by SAS.

Base SAS: The Big Picture

Base SAS provides you with essential tools for the basic data-driven tasks that you commonly perform as a programmer:

  • data access
  • management
  • analysis
  • presentation.

You can use the SAS programming language, ready-to-use procedures, and the windowing interface to

  • access data from many sources
  • manage your data
  • analyze your data and present it as meaningful information in a report that you can deliver to any platform, in any format you need.



With SAS, you can join Oracle data on a mainframe computer with an existing SAS data set, create new variables (columns), and produce an interactive graph on your PC.


Or, you can read raw data on a UNIX server, recompute data values, compute statistics, and create an HTML report. This report can be stored on a web server, so that anyone in your organization can view it.


Accessing Data

You’ve seen that you can access data using SAS regardless of the data sources or platforms on which it resides. That is, you can access data

  • that is stored almost anywhere, whether it is in a file on your system, or data that is stored on a remote server or in another database system.
  • in almost any format, including raw data, SAS data sets, and files created by other vendors’ software.


Types of Files You Can Access

You can read raw data in any format, from any kind of file, including variable-length records, binary files, free-formatted data–even files with messy or missing data.

You can access some other vendors’ files directly, including BMDP, SPSS, and OSIRIS files. For others, you can use SAS/ACCESS to access external data as if it were native to SAS. For example, you can read data stored in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, in a Microsoft Access table, in a dBASE file, or in ORACLE or another DBMS.


SAS/ACCESS provides access to these types of files:


Managing Data

After you’ve accessed your data, you can use the SAS programming language to manipulate it any way you choose.



For example, you can

  • format your data
  • create variables (columns)
  • use operators to evaluate data values
  • use functions to create and recode data values
  • subset data
  • perform conditional processing
  • merge a wide range of data sources
  • create, retrieve, and update database information.

Analyzing Data and Presenting Information

Once your data is in shape, you can use SAS to analyze data and produce reports. Your SAS output can range from a simple listing of a data set to customized reports of complex relationships.



Base SAS provides powerful data analysis tools. For example, you can

  • produce tables, frequency counts, and cross-tabulation tables
  • create a variety of charts and plots
  • compute a variety of descriptive statistics, including the mean, sum, variance, standard deviation and more
  • compute correlations and other measures of association, as well as multi-way cross-tabulations and inferential statistics.


For reporting and displaying analytical results, SAS gives you an almost limitless number of visually appealing output formats, such as

  • an array of markup languages including HTML and XML
  • output that is formatted for a high-resolution printer, such PostScript, PDF, and PCL files
  • RTF
  • color graphs that you can make interactive using ActiveX controls or Java applets.

Finally, you can output these reports to a wide variety of locations and platforms in order to suit your needs.

Now that you’ve seen some of what SAS can do, it’s time to get to work! In the rest of this quick-start guide, you practice in SAS as you go. This is what you’ll learn in the different sections of this guide:

Getting to know SAS
In the remaining tasks in this section, you’ll learn your way around the SAS interface. You’ll find out how SAS stores data and files, then perform some basic data and file management tasks. You’ll also learn the fundamental building blocks of a SAS program, and you’ll submit and store a SAS program.

Exploring sample SAS programs
This section walks you through a series of annotated programs that you can submit in SAS, edit, and save. These programs illustrate basic functionality in Base SAS and may serve as a reference for you as you begin to write your own SAS programs. For each program you will find an overview of the task, the sample program with notes, and a page of references.

Learning more
When you’re ready to explore more advanced topics in SAS, this section provides descriptions and links to the service and support resources that are available to you.
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