Path to .NET 3.5 Developer Certification

Friday, September 5, 2008 7:33 PM by Michael Paladino

This afternoon I saw a great diagram from Jorgen Thelin showing the .NET 3.5 developer certification paths including exams and certifications achieved.  This can be a confusing thing to try and understand when reading the text-based information in a table or paragraph format, so this really helped me see it all clearly.  Click the thumbnail below to see the full-size version.

ms-cert-path-mcpd_thumb

By the way, back in December 2007 I passed that tiny little 70-536 exam at the very bottom.  I've got a long ways to go to get to MCPD Enterprise Application Developer :)

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MSDN Ramp Up and Certification Exam Discount

Tuesday, July 8, 2008 9:00 AM by Michael Paladino

I first heard about this from Zain Naboulsi back in January and am finally getting back to blogging about it. MSDN has a developer learning program called Ramp Up that they describe as follows:

Do you want to gain new Microsoft .NET development skills, but aren’t sure where to begin? If so, MSDN Ramp Up is the place to be.

Through a solid foundation of premium technical content from renowned experts, Ramp Up provides the step-by-step guidance and in-depth learning content you need to build your portfolio of professional development skills.

Basically, you choose your track (most likely the Visual Studio 2008 Tech Ed Track for most people reading this blog), complete that track, and then at the end you get a "Graduation Award" consisting of a 50% discount on exam 70-536 among other things. That exam is the first exam on the road to a number of Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) and Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD) certifications for developers.

Hope this helps and good luck!

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Passed 70-536

Monday, December 31, 2007 8:00 AM by Michael Paladino

After stepping away from studying for a couple of months, I finally decided I wanted to pass my first certfication exam in 2007. So, I studied more intensely for a week leading up to the exam and finally took and passed it on December 20.

To me the exam was actually a bit easier than the practice tests that I was using from the Training Kit book, but I've read the opinions of others who say just the opposite. There were some questions I was able to figure out just based on the context of the questions and general programming knowledge. There were others that I never would have known had I not specifically studied for this exam. For example, my day to day job duties typically don't take me anywhere near topics like encryption, COM, or anything beyond basic threading, but those were areas that were covered in the Training Kit book.

I am now trying to decide which test I want to try and tackle next. I've got an upcoming web project, so I am leaning in that direction. That would be Exam 70-528 - Web Based Client Development.

After taking the first exam, I definitely have a better idea of how to study for this one. Rather than stretching out the studying over months, I will most likely study intensely for a week or two and maybe take a day off work before exam day.

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Number of Microsoft Certified Professionals

Thursday, July 19, 2007 9:00 AM by Michael Paladino

Microsoft has begun updating a page listing the number of Microsoft Certified Professionals worldwide:

http://www.microsoft.com/learning/mcp/certified.mspx

This gives me more motivation to get through the tests as the numbers are much lower than I thought they would be. Looks like getting to my goal of MCPD: Enterprise Application Developer would put me in a fairly elite group (1,813 as of 7/19/2007).

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Certification Study Update

Tuesday, June 12, 2007 9:00 AM by Michael Paladino

I typically don't like to see posts along the lines of "Sorry, I haven't blogged lately. I've been busy." However, this blog is supposed to be about studying for my MCPD certification, so I thought I would explain my lack of blogging lately.

First, my employer moved from an older building where we were busting at the seams to a much more modern building with plenty of room for growth. Our server room went from a shelf next to the bathroom door to an actual computer room with a raised floor and a dedicated air conditioner unit. I also now have a private office rather than being in a room with three cubicles and I can definitely attest to the increase in productivity that a private office brings. Anyway, the move took a couple of weeks of my focus and therefore my studies suffered. Also up until a couple of weeks ago, I was under a pretty tight deadline that didn't allow time to study.

I have however begun again and I have finished Chapters 2 and 3 of the Training Kit book having to do with Input / Output, Text Encoding, and Regular Expressions. It's all stuff I've done before, but so far the practice questions seem to be very syntax-focused. This scares me because I haven't memorized syntax since I started programming with Visual Studio and Intellisense a couple of years ago. If anybody that has taken exam 70-536 has any input on this, I'd love to hear from you. For now, I feel like I'm just going to have to do a lot of memorization rather than just understanding the concepts which was my initial expectation. Oh well, I guess if it was easy, everybody would be an MCPD.

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One Chapter Down, Fifteen to Go

Friday, April 13, 2007 8:00 AM by Michael Paladino

I've finished the first chapter in the Training Kit book and it has taken a little longer than I thought. There are some basic programming principals such as boxing/unboxing, type conversions, etc. that I have never really taken the time to think about before. It's all making sense so far, and I'm feeling pretty comfortable with the material.

As far as the books, it appears the Training Kit book is going to be much simpler and less in-depth than the VB 2005 book which seems to be inline with some of the reviews I've read of both books. I do like the way the Training Kit book is broken up into lessons within each chapter with questions at the end. That provides a good way for me to start and end a lesson in one sitting.

So far I've only been able to get about 30 minutes to an hour at a time to spend studying. I'm getting pretty close to my goal of 2 hours of personal time and 2 hours of work time per week. The last couple of weeks I've come into work early on Friday morning to get some good uninterrupted study time, and I'm going to try to keep that up each week.

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Certification Overview

Tuesday, April 3, 2007 9:00 AM by Michael Paladino

Since one of the main purposes of this blog is to serve as a record of my studies towards Microsoft certification, I thought I would talk a bit about the certification process as I understand it. My goal is to become a Microsoft Certified Professional Developer: Enterprise Application Developer. In order to acheive that, I will need to pass 5 exams earning certifications as a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist in the following areas along the way: .NET Framework 2.0 Windows Applications, Web Applications, and Distributed Applications. The image below shows which exams I will be taking and which certifications I will receive after passing each:

Microsoft Certification Chart

My first exam will be Exam 70-536: TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 - Application Development Foundation. I have purchased the following Microsoft recommended books:

I will be reading these books and going through the included sample exam questions. After finishing those, I will evaluate whether or not I need to do further training before taking the exam. I've done a lot of .NET programming over the last three years, but have not covered nearly the breadth of information included in these exams. I've committed to spending 4 hours a week studying. That number may have to be adjusted to get through the material a bit quicker. This should be fun!

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Structures and Value Types

Tuesday, April 3, 2007 9:00 AM by Michael Paladino

I've always read about structures and understood them to basically be dumbed-down classes but never had much more of an understanding than that. Going through the first chapter of my studying, I came across an explanation that makes sense to me. I'm sure there's much more to it than this, but structures are value types and not reference types. According to the book, "Value types are variables that contain their data directly instead of containing a reference to the data stored elsewhere in memory" as do instances of classes.

Consider the following code sample:

Dim p As Person = New Person("Michael", "Paladino", 28)
Dim p2 As Person = p

p2.firstName = "Leslie"
p2.age = 27

Console.WriteLine(p)
Console.WriteLine(p2)

In this code sample if Person is a Structure, creating p2 creates a new location in memory to store the data. Setting p2 equal to p actually copies the data from p to the new location in memory at p2. Therefore, changing the properties of p2 has no effect on p. Thus the output will be as follows:

Michael Paladino, Age:28
Leslie Paladino, Age:27

If Person is a Class, setting p2 equal to p causes p2 to point to the same location in memory as p. Therefore changing the properties on p2 also changes the properties of p, resulting in the following output:

Leslie Paladino, Age:27
Leslie Paladino, Age:27

Reference:
MCTS Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-536): Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0-Application Development Foundation
Lesson 1: Using Value Types

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