Editor's Desk

Developer Core

The pluses and minuses of Microsoft's new MCAD certification.

Microsoft has updated its developer credential and added a new one to its portfolio of titles, but some of the news may not be welcome. First, the MCSD for .NET faces delay. Core test 70-300, Analyzing Requirements and Defining .NET Solution Architectures, won’t be available until 2003. Making MCSDs wait a year before they flaunt their newly acquired skills seems cruel—even if there are good reasons for the delay.

Second, the Microsoft Certified Application Developer isn’t as straightforward as we thought. If you need any reminder that Microsoft pushes certification to help sell its own products and technologies (a brilliant approach, I might add), here it is: You must pass a Web services test in order to achieve the MCAD title. Even if your job doesn’t involve writing to distributed applications, Microsoft needs that corps of experts pushing its brand of Web services. But as one developer said to me, “No MCAD-not-for-.NET??”

Third, the tests still don’t integrate a coding exercise into the certification process. Sun Microsystems does it. As part of the Sun Certified Developer for Java 2 Platform, you have to code a routine. I have no idea how these are graded, but it looks like you send your exercises to Sun vs. a testing center. I’d sure like to see Microsoft try this approach, even as an experiment.

Fourth, Visual FoxPro is being left behind. I remember going to a meeting at Microsoft when it first purchased FoxPro from Fox Software. The Microsoft people in charge of the transition inquired of the 50 or so Fox experts there whether they would be amenable to a testing program. The overwhelming response: “We don’t need no stinkin’ certification!” Now they have their wish. FoxPro—which probably doesn’t have many titleholders—isn’t part of the new program.

Of course, there are some nice touches, too. As you expand your developer skills into the architect arena, you can take additional exams to upgrade your MCAD to an MCSD.

Also, you can update your current MCSD to the .NET tools when you’re ready, not by some artificial deadline, as Microsoft says it will keep that credential alive “indefinitely.”

If we count MCPs who have passed a Visual Basic exam, there are probably many more of you walking around with a developer credential than we might guess. Numbers always command respect in my book (call me shallow), and that’s why we’re publishing “Developer Central,” an e-mail newsletter written by the incredibly prolific Mike Gunderloy. Subscribe at http://lists.101com.com/NLS/pages/main.asp?NL=mcpmag&o=developer.

When you’re done signing up for the newsletter, tell me what you think of the program changes at dian.schaffhauser@mcpmag.com.

About the Author

Dian L. Schaffhauser is a freelance writer based in Northern California.

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