WPS vs SAS in teaching analytics

I have been teaching a foundation course in analytics for the past couple of months to students interested in learning about analytics either to upskill themselves or to break into a fast growing and competitive field. Our course at Jigsaw Academy (www.jigsawacademy.in) is designed as an integrated blend of statistical concepts, analytics techniques, and analytic tools, with the aim of equipping students with a conceptual understanding of widely used analytic techniques as well as familiarising them with data handling and analytical tools.

Among the analytical tools we use is to train students is WPS. WPS (World Programming System: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Programming_System) is a software application that enables users to use SAS language elements to develop data manipulation and analysis programs. What this means in practical terms is that if you have experience with using SAS and SAS Programming, you will be easily able to create, edit and run programs in WPS using the same SAS language syntax and elements that you are used to – with the caveat that WPS does not (yet) support all the functionality offered by SAS. In general, if you are working with Base SAS and need a lower cost option, WPS is very much worth investigating, with license costs that are substantially lower than the current SAS licensing options.

WPS is available in both workstation as well as server mode.
Here are some screen shots of WPS including the layout as well as example of log and output of programs written using the SAS language

Figure 1: WPS layout – note editor window, log window, list window and a program in the editor window

Figure 2: Log window

Figure 3: Output window. Note default output is text, but ods html output is also available

Figure 4: Explorer window with datasets in the Work library

For obvious reasons (as a start-up!) we wanted to explore using WPS instead of SAS. Our initial assessment of published functionality of WPS was encouraging enough for us to invest in WPS for teaching. Listed below are our observations based on multiple batches of students;

1. WPS for the most part easily meets our training needs for basic data exploration, manipulation, and analysis.

In the Foundation course our aim is to enable students get a feel for data analysis, especially with large datasets. WPS can easily handle large datasets, and in terms of data analysis and exploration options supports most of the widely used procedures and functions that are used in SAS, including procedures Means, Univariate, Sort, Frequency, Corr, Append, Import, Export, Print, Reg, Logisticetc . A lot of commonly used functions (numeric, character, date) are also available in exactly the same syntax as SAS

2. The WPS user interface (called the WPS workbench) is intuitive and easy to use.

The GUI on windows based WPS is laid out in an intuitive manner, and is very easy for students to grasp. Similar to SAS, there are editor, log, list windows, as well as an explorer window to view datasets created, both temporary and permanent

3. Documentation and Training Resources available

WPS provides a fairly comprehensive list of functionalities supported in its current version on its website as well as documentation on syntax and interface (https://teamwpc.co.uk/support/wps/docs). But of course given that the user uses SAS language on WPS, there are obviously lots documentation and help available on the SAS language on the web. Finding trainers is also easy – our experience has been that it takes less than an hour for people familiar with SAS to start using WPS effectively.

4. Limitations exists in procedures and functions supported currently

While WPS supports a wide variety of procedures and functions in SAS, it does not support them all. For example, you cannot use PROC TTEST, or PROC GLM. What this means is that if you use SAS for very advanced or sophisticated data analysis, there are chances that some of the procedures or functions that you reference in your current SAS programs may not be supported by WPS. However, WPS constantly works on adding functionalities, so hopefully this is a temporary issue
To review a list of procedures and functions supported, go to: https://www.teamwpc.co.uk/products/wps/language

5. Very positive student experience

We have had very positive student feedback on WPS. Some of our students have also been able to get themselves SAS Base certification based on their learning with WPS. Jigsaw students have also been successfully placed at large companies for roles requiring SAS skills.

We have been very happy with our evaluation of WPS as a basic tool for data analysis and modelling. It certainly meets all our needs in the Foundation Course, and allows us to train students on the SAS language easily.

– Sarita Digumarti

Click here to read more about analytics with WPS.

Interested in learning about other Analytics and Big Data tools and techniques? Click on our course links and explore more.
Jigsaw’s Data Science with SAS Course – click here.
Jigsaw’s Data Science with R Course – click here.
Jigsaw’s Big Data Course – click here.

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