I talked to several developers recently who are wondering about Microsoft .NET 3.5 certification and how it relates to their .NET 2.0 and .NET 1.1 certs. Here's an overview of where Microsoft is going with its .NET certification and what a developer with .NET 1.1 or 2.0 certification should plan on doing.
Choose a path
Beginning with .NET 3.5, you can pass an individual exam and become a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) for a product or technology. Another new certification path is the Microsoft Certified Professional Developer (MCPD). Previous certification options include Microsoft Certified Application Developer (MCAD) and Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD).
When approaching IT certification, it is important to have a goal for your certification path. The certification path you choose will depend upon your job, and the number of exams you are ready to tackle. MCTS and MCPD were introduced with .NET 2.0 for individuals to better demonstrate their skills in the role of developer. MCAD and MCSD offer more thorough certifications for those involved with all aspects of application development.
Choose a versionA big issue with preparing to tackle Microsoft .NET certification is choosing a version. The .NET 2.0 exams are still available, even as their .NET 3.5 counterparts continue to arrive. (Note: Microsoft skipped .NET 3.0 exams and went straight to version 3.5.)
Certifications are usually good for a few years, so obtaining .NET 2.0 would be reasonable, and some .NET 2.0 tests will apply to .NET 3.5 certifications as well. I suggest bookmarking Microsoft's certifications page to keep up with the appropriate certification paths.
I recommend focusing on .NET 3.5 exams if you are just beginning to work towards certification. This allows you to stay current until another version of the .NET Framework appears.
Visual Studio 2008 is at the center of .NET 3.5 development and certification, so you'll need to be familiar with the latest version of Microsoft's flagship IDE to be fully prepared.
If you already have a current certification, there will be upgrade tests for IT pros who are .NET 2.0 certified. There will not be an upgrade path to .NET 3.5 for IT pros who hold .NET 1.1 certifications; the recommendation is to upgrade to .NET 2.0 and then follow its upgrade when available.
.NET 3.5 certification exams
Microsoft has introduced a number of .NET 3.5 focused exams. The company has released individual exams, with a person attaining MCTS status on the technology when it is passed. The following list provides an overview of these offerings:
- TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 - Windows Communication Foundation: Exam 70-503 focuses on building applications utilizing Windows Communication Foundation (WCF). You'll need to have a solid understanding of the basics of WCF, as well as building applications that use WCF; this includes basic development and deployment to integration with other enterprise services. Availability: Exam 70-503 is available now.
- TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 - Windows Presentation Foundation: Exam 70-502 focuses on using the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) technology to build applications. This includes an understanding of WPF's role within the .NET solution model. To pass, you need to know the basics of building, testing, and deploying WPF applications. A solid understanding of XAML is required as well. Availability: Exam 70-502 is available now.
- TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 - Windows Workflow Foundation: Exam 70-504 tests you on the ins and outs of using the Workflow Foundation (WF) technology to build and deploy .NET applications. This includes a solid understanding of the base technology, along with states, activities, and transactions. Availability: Exam 70-504 is available now.
- TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5, Windows Forms Application Development: Exam 70-505 deals with all aspects of building Windows-based applications with .NET Framework 3.5. This includes developing a user interface using Windows forms, accessing data, developing controls, usability, and reporting. Availability: Exam 70-505 is scheduled for release in August 2008.
- TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5, ASP.NET Application Development: In order to pass Exam 70-562, you need to demonstrate a complete understanding of developing applications with ASP.NET 3.5. This includes Web services, security, state management, debugging, and so forth. Availability: Exam 70-562 is scheduled for release in June 2008.
- TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5, ADO.NET Application Development: Exam 70-561 covers all aspects of using ADO.NET 3.5. Availability: Exam 70-561 is scheduled for release in June 2008.
Microsoft will continue to develop and introduce more exams in the near future. For example, these two exams provide a path to MCPD status for the .NET 3.5 platform:
- Pro: Designing and Developing Windows Applications Using the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5: Exam 70-563 targets developers who are working on the professional developer track. More attention is paid to architecting solutions for Microsoft Windows. Availability: Exam 70-563 is scheduled for release in December 2008.
- Pro: Designing and Developing ASP.NET Applications Using the Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5: Exam 70-564 focuses on all aspects of architecting solutions that use ASP.NET 3.5. Availability: Exam 70-564 is scheduled for release in December 2008.
Additional .NET resources
Working towards Microsoft .NET certification provides an opportunity to learn the details of the latest version of Microsoft's development platform while gaining industry recognition. With version 3.5 of .NET, there is a lot to learn about new technologies such as WCF, WPF, and WF. Thankfully, Microsoft Learning offers plenty of resources (online courses, books, etc.) that can help you get acquainted with the technologies.
Do you plan to take a Microsoft certification?
I have used my certifications to demonstrate product and technology know-how to prospective clients. In my circumstance, the certifications have not been as necessary because I have compiled extensive experience with real-world projects and clients.
However, if Microsoft certification is in your future, what .NET version do you intend on using? Share your thoughts with the community.
Tony Patton began his professional career as an application developer earning Java, VB, Lotus, and XML certifications to bolster his knowledge.
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Tony Patton has worn many hats over his 15+ years in the IT industry while witnessing many technologies come and go. He currently focuses on .NET and Web Development while trying to grasp the many facets of supporting such technologies in a production environment on a daily basis.