Second Verse, Same as the First – SAS is the new Insightful

I love ya, SAS!

I love ya, SAS!

Tibco acquired Insightful last year.  Many folks have reported that S-Plus (the closed source implementation of the S language) was dang near financially killed by the success of R (the open source implementation of the S language).  I may be slow on the update, but today I learned that a company named World Programming is making a product, WPS, which is an alternative implementation of the SAS base language. WPS costs a small fraction of what SAS charges. In addition, a smart chap named Phil Rack has created a program for WPS called Bridge to R which, as the name implies, bridges WPS to R. In an interview with Phil Rack on the blog Decision Stats, Phil poins out that while WPS is only an alternative for base SAS and not the statistics tools like SAS/STAT, ETS, OR, etc by having a bridge to R a SAS programmer can get the data handling abilities of SAS and the statistical tools of R through WBS and R without having to pay our friends in North Carolina any cash. Very nice!

If there was only an open source implementation of the SAS language and base abilities… oh I can’t even continue the thought. It’s just too good to be true.

Kudos to Ajay at the blog Decision Stats for opening my eyes to WPS.  Keep up the good work, Ajay. But I agree with Phil, if you have 6300 contacts in LinkedIn, you, my good man, are a link whore. Not that I have a problem with that.


Let me clarify that I am not anti-SAS. SAS is a tool, and it does a good job at what it does. I learned to program SAS in grad school and used it for years, first in academia and later as a consultant.  However, I honestly believe that their licensing model is totally outdated and stifles innovation. I also know that I was VERY excited when my previous employer chose SAS as their BI provider. After over $500,000 in fees and 18 months we still had no BI system. That really pissed me off. After using R for a couple of years I now realize how good statistical programming can be and I don’t miss SAS one bit. By effing up their BI build at my previous employeer, SAS forcefully pushed me into R. *sing* And that’s the way we all became the Brady Bunch.. doo dee doot doot dooooo!


  1. Phil Rack says:

    Pretty witty blog! You made me laugh out loud. I have to say, I’m still a neophyte at R and have had to learn more than I originally wanted to about the package to write the Bridge to R. I’m more an architect than a statistician. If you check out you will read that SAS finally admits that they cannot stay cutting edge any longer in the statistical procs because their release cycles are so long.

    The next question becomes, how much longer can SAS hold out charging their exorbitant annual license fees when they admit they can no longer stay current in the field?

    Phil Rack

  2. J DeLong says:

    Phil! You are my first real comment on this blog. My spam filter thought that you were Spam however. But don’t think it is because your head looks like a can of meat, I think it was because you had two links in your comment. I knew it wasn’t spam, however, because nowhere in your post did you mention buggery. Thanks for stopping by and I hope my mastications are amusing if not cerebral.

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