Michele M. Burlew, president of Episystems, Inc., designs and programs SAS applications for data management, data analysis, report writing, and graphics for academic and corporate clients. A SAS user since 1980, Burlew has expertise in many SAS products and operating systems. Her company has been a SAS Alliance partner since 1996. She is the author of seven SAS Press books: SAS Hash Object Programming Made Easy; Combining and Modifying SAS Data Sets: Examples, Second Edition; Output Delivery System: The Basics and Beyond (coauthor); SAS Guide to Report Writing: Examples, Second Edition; SAS Macro Programming Made Easy, Second Edition; Debugging SAS Programs: A Handbook of Tools and Techniques; and Reading External Data Files Using SAS: Examples Handbook.
How long have you been using SAS®?
What SAS products have you used in the past? What products and solutions are you currently using?
Base SAS®, SAS/STAT®, SAS/GRAPH®, Macros, ODS, JMP®, SAS/QC®, SAS/ETS®, SAS® Enterprise Guide®
What is a problem you have solved using SAS?
I've had the good fortune to work on many different kinds of projects over my consulting career, and I love it when the project requires SAS macros. A few years ago, I wrote a system of macros that managed the analysis of several years of survey data. The macros generate the code, process the output data sets, and create CSV files that are loaded into a Web-based application. Because of the large number of models, a year's processing can take two weeks running all day, each day without any user intervention, so having macros manage the processing details was really important.
What is the most innovative way you have used SAS?
Several years ago I worked on a project where we needed to extract variable information from over 30 years of data dictionaries from a national survey. The data dictionaries were either in text files or PDFs. A programming solution was needed because having people key in or cut-and-paste all this information was a monumental task. Each year of the survey contained several hundred variables. I converted the PDF files to text. Then I wrote a library of macros that parsed the elements of the text files. The output from these routines constructed SAS DATA steps, SAS format libraries, and new uniform data dictionaries that were output to Excel.
What is your most memorable SAS moment?
My most memorable SAS moment was when the proposal for my first book, SAS Macro Programming Made Easy was accepted. I love books and I love writing SAS programs and to be able to combine the two was a wonderful opportunity for me. I liked working with SAS Press so much that I've kept on writing ... my seventh SAS book SAS Hash Object Programming Made Easy was published in September 2012.
How has SAS changed in the time you have been using it?
The capacity of what SAS and computers can do now compared to what it could do 30 years ago is vastly different. When I worked at a university computer center nearly 30 years ago, we had to be so careful how we wrote our code because the time and resources that it took to do some analyses was lengthy and jobs were submitted in batch fashion. It might be several hours before I discovered that my program was missing a semicolon because a job could sit in a batch queue for hours before it executed.
Have you ever attended a SAS users group meeting or SAS Global Forum? If yes, please list them.
I've attended several since 1982, both national and regional.
Has your work with SAS been influenced by any other members of the SAS community?
SAS Technical Support and SAS developers have been extremely helpful to me over and over! Also, working with SAS Press to write books has been a delight.
If you could point a new SAS user to one resource, what would it be?
Definitely support.sas.com! This website has links to everything you need to get started.