SAS Tutorial: Productivity Tools for Programmers

From Google to GitHub, Bruce Kayton Shares His Productivity Tips

For programmers, this SAS tutorial outlining the best productivity tools will help to keep work on track. This is crucial when you’re working to a deadline, or on a piece of code that is essential to the efficiency and accuracy of work to be done.

We asked Bruce Kayton, Senior SAS Applications Analyst here at SimulStat, to share with us what productivity tools he uses. Having been with us since 2004, we knew he would have some great tips for all programmers. We weren’t disappointed.

Google it!

“Funnily enough, the biggest productivity tool I use is Google,” Bruce tells us. “If I hit a problem, my first action is a Google search.”

Because he works with SAS, he always uses ‘SAS’ as a keyword in his online searches.

“Then you type out your problem. 99.9% of the time, someone else has had the same issue before. You may need to wade through the search results and find out what the possible solutions are. You’ll find that there are multiple resources that come out of such a search,” explains Bruce.

Lex Jansen

Often, Google will show results from Lex Jansen. On his website (, you’ll find all the proceedings that come together from all the test user groups.

“His website holds all the proceedings and papers over many years,” says Bruce. “So there is invariably a link to the information you require from Lex Jansen, though it is usually easier to get to via a Google search.”

SAS Portal

“I’ve been programming for 30 years, and I learn stuff all the time. SAS has a blog portal that has a lot of new innovations that are coming up on SAS. New features, for example. Sometimes I’ll discover something that was introduced a few months ago that I just wasn’t aware of,” Bruce tells us.

Other useful portals on the SAS site include:

However, Bruce rarely uses the community group. “To be honest, it’s usually faster to use other tools,” he says.

SAS Enterprise Guide

Bruce uses the SAS Enterprise Guide as a primary development environment. This allows him to interactively test snippets of code before integrating them into a full program. On the odd occasion, Bruce has used the guide’s code generation features.


“The editor in the Enterprise Guide is not that great,” says Bruce. “Therefore, I use whatever the client prefers. However, UltraEdit is my editor of choice. There’s a professional version, but most of what you need is available on the free version – such as syntax, highlighting, and so on. It’s a really easy tool to use, too.”

Another editor that Bruce uses is Notepad++. While similar to UltraEdit, Bruce says that it is not quite as robust. However, your comments stand out better on Notepad++. “Plus, you can do column editing to enter multiple lines at the same time. You can also find all instances of a certain word inside your code, making it easy to change something globally,” Bruce says.

Overall, Bruce recommends always using an external editor rather than the SAS provided editor.

Code Comparing Tools

“Someone else may be programming,” Bruce tells us. “We use tools that allow us to compare versions before we put it into production. This way, you can quickly check what changes have been made between versions and look at the syntax.”

Code comparison tools and version control repositories that Bruce recommends are:

  • GitHub, for version control and code comparison. Very useful as you can compare code between generations of code.
  • Winmerge for code comparison, but does not have a historical versioning capability.
  • UltraCompare, which is part of the UltraEdit suite of products, and so works well in conjunction with UltraEdit.

“We also do a lot of stuff that is driven by Microsoft Excel. We usually use the tools I’ve mentioned to do comparisons, but there is also a Microsoft Office tool that we occasionally use to make comparisons,” says Bruce.

How Do You Boost Your Programming Productivity?

Which tools Bruce uses depends upon the work he is doing and the client’s preferred tools. While all the tools he has highlighted are his personal preferences, there are many others that he uses to suit needs.

It pays to keep up to date with all the productivity tools that boost your effectiveness and, therefore, your capability to produce exceptional programming work for clients.

We’d love to hear what tools you use in your programming role. Why not send us a message and let us know? Alternatively, if you want to move to the next level in your career, please submit your resume – and don’t forget to include the productivity tools with which you have experience.