Tuesday 10 January 2012

NOTE: Programming for Job Security (Golden Oldies)

This post ends the series of golden oldies. Looking through past conference papers has revealed many interesting nuggets. I was interested to read SAS co-founder John Sall's paper on PROC MATRIX, the forerunner of SAS/IML. This paper was presented at the first SUGI, in 1976 - known SAS One.

I was also pleased to see some opinion pieces too. I saw two papers by Grant Blank on the subject of the obsolescence of SAS (SUGI 10 in 1985 and SUGI 16 in 1991), and another by Barbara Ison & Dania Ferguson comparing the newly-introduced macro facility with the existing ability to use LINK statements within DATA steps (SUGI 17 in 1992). I don't necessarily agree with too much of their arguments, but I firmly respect their freedom to offer their opinions. Discussion and opinion seems to have been lost in modern SAS conferences. The focus of papers is now on case studies and product features. Both important and valuable in their own right, but I miss the variety that used to exist.

Whilst there is a wealth of good quality papers and articles available, no series of golden oldies could end without the inclusion of Art Carpenter's seminal series on Job Security. Software engineering can be a pretty dry and humourless topic, but Art managed to inject some real humour into the proceedings of several conferences. His first paper on the subject was at SUGI 18 in 1993, but I choose to highlight the paper he co-presented with my old friend Tony Payne at SUGI 23 (1998) in Nashville, Programming for Job Security Revisited: Even More Tips and Techniques to Maximise Your Indispensability. Comedy gold, but also a series of high quality tips for making sure your programs are successfully peer-reviewed.