I've been using Flash—and surrounded by a studio using Flash—since it was called Future Splash (version 2.0). Everyone I've ever worked with was self-taught, and nobody was ever certified. I'm a huge fan of Macromedia products. Dreamweaver was the first visual WYSIWIG tool that I ever used—it's the only one I use today. Do I need to certify myself to prove that I know how to use it?
As I discussed in my previous article, Macromedia offers four certifications:
- Macromedia Flash MX Designer
- Macromedia Flash MX Developer
- Macromedia ColdFusion MX Developer
- Macromedia� Dreamweaver MX Developer
Why you should become Macromedia certified
The benefits of Macromedia certification are similar to those offered by all certifications—it elevates your perceived level of professionalism. Let's face it; a lot of people out there claim to know Dreamweaver, and Flash in particular.
How do you stand out from that crowd? Beyond showing your killer URLs (which were worked on by a team) what have you got to prove that you know your stuff? Macromedia Certified Professional status offers proof of a Web developer's knowledge of an essential development tool (Flash, ColdFusion, or Dreamweaver).
In addition, being a Macromedia Certified Professional gives you the right to show the logo, which is kind of neat in and of itself. There are those who will also tell you that having Macromedia Certified Professionals on staff makes a company more attractive to potential clients.
Why you shouldn't become Macromedia certified
The Macromedia Certified Professional exam is not a real-world, hands-on examination—it is multiple choice. I've never seen a multiple-choice Web development exam. Macromedia recommends that people who take the exam have a certain level of experience, but it's a soft recommendation and means that someone could theoretically take the test and pass with no real-world development experience at all. Web development, and Flash in particular, is about pushing the limits and making things work. Passing a test that says you're certified is no substitute for pounding out a site under the gun for a client that wants the world but doesn't know how to clear its cache.
Web developers don't know everything by heart; we just figure it out and make it work. Macromedia help menus are pretty solid—and when it hits the fan, the help menu is usually your best friend.
For just about every other product or service Macromedia offers, there's a slick Flash (or now Breeze) presentation to highlight it. You'd think that the premier Macromedia certification for Flash would garner at least a Flash demo. But no, nada, nothing, just text—which is uncharacteristic of Macromedia. It makes me wonder if the program is a cash grab in a cert-frenzied environment.
When I started to write this article, I did an impromptu survey of a good number of my peers and asked them if they had or would consider getting the Macromedia certification. The old-school types like myself didn't think that it made much sense for them to shell out $100 to $150 to get certified. A common refrain was that their work speaks for itself. Among rookies and management types, however, the tone changed a bit. Anything to get an edge, they told me.
So, should you or shouldn't you get a Macromedia certification? Personally I don't think it proves much beyond the fact that you can pass a non-real-world test about the products. But times are tough, and if getting a certification makes the difference between getting a client (or a job) or not, isn't it worth considering?