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New tools, APIs spell update for developer credentials

A little research and thinking convinces me that for both the MCAD and the MCSD credentials, changes are in the offing some time next year. Read why here.

For me, reader e-mail can be great source of inspiration and information. This time, an inquiry about looming impacts of changing tools and interfaces on developer credentials gave me the necessary impetus to pause and reflect on what such changes might mean. A little research and thinking convinces me that for both the more junior Microsoft Certified Application Developer (MCAD) certificate and the more senior Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) credential, changes are in the offing some time next year.

Why do I say this? Two big reasons:

* We know there's a major new release planned for Visual Studio next year -- it's named Visual Studio 2005. Ready availability of the beta version and lots of advance information about the new environment shows substantial changes to tools and interfaces that MS will surely want to test on.

* Likewise, the .NET Framework version 2.0 is also in beta test right now. It, too, features some major changes and updates to all kinds of features and functions. At the same time, most major APIs and languages also feature 2.0 versions, including ASP.NET, ADO.NET, C#, and more.

What is this likely to mean for developers interested in certification? Well, if history is any guide, it means that in the second half of next year, MS will start introducing a new slate of developer exams to replace the current generation based on Visual Studio.NET, the .NET Framework versions 1.0 and 1.1, and older versions of the APIs with those based on 2005 releases that include Visual Studio.NET 2005, .NET Framework 2.0, plus updated languages and APIs. In more concrete terms, exams numbered 70-2xx are on their way out, and exams numbered 70-3xx are likely to be augmented by new exams (perhaps numbered 70-4xx?) that will update coverage, topics, tools, and technologies to catch developers up with Microsoft's latest and greatest offerings.

Based on the rollout time required for the 70-3xx exams, it's likely to take 12 months or longer for a new slate to completely unroll, once that process begins. This also means those pursuing the most current developer credentials should be aware that their pursuit will no longer be the most current some time in the next 18 months -- so get cracking already, and finish, so you can get ready for the next exam generation!

If you have questions or concerns about MS certification, or suggestions for topics you'd like to see covered, please e-mail me at etittel@techtarget.com.

Ed Tittel is a long-time certification follower. He's series editor for Exam Cram 2, a popular assembly of cert prep books from Que Publishing, and a contributing editor for Certification Magazine. He also covers certification topics for InformIT.com, and numerous other TechTarget Web sites.

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