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Does first wave of .NET exams mean Web service tilt for all certs?

Do all these .NET exams signal a move to Web services for all certifications?


Does first wave of .NET exams mean Web service tilt for all certs?
By Ed Tittel
LANWrights, Inc.

On Valentine's Day, Microsoft introduced a new mid-level developer program called the Microsoft Certified Application Developer program, or MCAD, along with a .NET track for the more senior Microsoft Certified Solution Developer program, the MCSD. In doing so, Redmond revealed what lies ahead certification-wise as Windows migrates into the brave new world of .NET and picks up a decidedly more Web service orientation.

The Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator (MCSA) is to the MCSE what the MCAD is to the MCSD: an intermediate certification somewhere between the single exam Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) credential and a multiple exam, senior-level credential. I believe Microsoft quite rightly recognizes that a stopping point near the half-way mark will encourage more individuals to pursue such certifications and will probably help to swell their "certification count" numbers as well.

To qualify for the MCAD you must pass three exams:

  • One Web Application or Windows Application Development exam:
    • Web Application Development requires building Web applications using either Visual Basic .NET (exam 70-305) or Visual C# .NET (pronounced "C-sharp," exam 70-315) along with Microsoft Visual Studio .NET. Both exams are slated for a June 2002 release.
    • Windows Application Development requires building Windows-based applications using Visual Basic .NET (exam 70-306) or Visual C# .NET (exam 70-316) along with Visual Studio .NET. As yet, no release dates for these exams are available but betas are scheduled for April 2002 and objectives are available on the MCAD Web pages.
  • One Web Server and Server Components exam:
    • Microsoft's first XML-focused development requirement, this exam requires using either Microsoft Visual Basic .NET (exam 70-310) or Visual C# .NET, along with the Microsoft .NET Framework to build Web services or related components. At present, no additional information about these exams is available.
  • One elective exam:
    • Electives include core options mentioned above, though no exam counts twice. Other valid electives include SQL (70-229), BizTalk Server (70-230) and Commerce Server (70-234) exams.

See for more details on this program.

The .NET track for the MCSD is a straightforward expansion on the MCAD requirements which imposes more restrictions on valid electives. Five total exams -- four core exams and a single elective -- are required:

  • Core Solution Architecture exam (70-300): Covers project analysis, implementation requirements and .NET solution architectures.
  • Core Web Application Development exam: Choose either a Visual Basic .NET (70-305) or a Visual C# .NET (70-315) exam on developing and implementing Web-based applications, including Visual Studio .NET.
  • Core Windows Application Development exam: Choose either a Visual Basic .NET (70-306) or a Visual C# .NET (70-316) exam on developing and implementing Windows-based applications, also including Visual Studio .NET.
  • Core Web Services and Server Components exams: Choose either a Visual basic .NET (70-306) or a Visual C# .NET (70-316) exam on developing and implementing XML Web services and Server Components, including the Microsoft .NET Framework.
  • Elective exams: Take any single exam on SQL Server 2000 (70-229), BizTalk Server 2000 (70-230) or Commerce Server 2000 (70-234).

Whereas the MCAD lets you pick either a Windows application or a Web application development core, the MCSD .NET track requires one of each. It also adds the core solution exam (70-300) and an additional elective, while restricting valid electives to a short list of only three exams. The MCSD is both more general and more focused -- and certainly more demanding -- if the 70-300 exam maintains the tradition and difficulty level of the 70-100 exam that preceded it.

What's interesting about these new developments is that they indicate that Microsoft is positioning Web application development, Web services and server components on a par with traditional Windows development topics (client-side and server-side applications). The increased emphasis on XML-driven tools and technologies also speaks strongly to Microsoft's ongoing attempts to reinvent itself as the hub for services and applications outside traditional enterprise boundaries. Although we still don't know what's going to happen on the MCSE/MCSA side when exams 70-275, 70-276, and 70-277 are more fully spelled out, this speaks strongly toward a growing Web services application focus across the whole spectrum of Microsoft products. As .NET Server approaches release, the next few months should prove quite interesting as more details on Microsoft certification programs are fleshed out.

Ed Tittel is a principal at a small content development company based in Austin, Texas, and the creator of the Exam Cram series, and has worked on over 30 certification-related books on Microsoft, Novell, and Sun related topics.

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