Microsoft Learning has been offering a series of self-assessment tools since 2004 through its Web site. Topics covered at the Microsoft Skills Assessment home page include various servers (SQL, Small Business Server, Exchange, Storage Server, and Windows Server 2003), desktop platforms, Office, security, and more -- including Visual Studio.NET. These assessments help individuals develop a personalized learning plan that refers to Microsoft Official Curriculum courses, MS Press books, and TechNet resources to help individuals learn what they must know about the platforms and tools covered.
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There's a surprising variety of offerings under the Visual Studio.NET and Visual Studio 2005 headings, including areas for VS.NET and VS 2005 related to developing for Windows and developing for the Web. In addition, there's an assessment on evaluating the .NET Framework and the VS development environment for VS.NET as well. The VS.NET offerings are older, as they are built around VS.NET 2003 and 1.x versions of the framework, but include coverage of programming language topics that may be worth digging into for developers who have yet to tackle these topics.
Here I concentrate on the newer VS 2005 offerings. You'll find the assessments here under the heading "Visual Studio 2005"
Assessments: Develop for Windows
These items concentrate on developing client applications for the Windows desktop environment and thus focus primarily on user interface and presenting/delivering end-user functionality.
Title: Microsoft Windows-based Client Development with Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 and Microsoft Visual Basic 2005
Description: This assessment focuses on the skills and knowledge needed to build and deploy Windows-based client applications using the Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0. Topics cover a broad spectrum, including creating a user interface using Windows controls, integrating data, enhancing usability, printing and reporting, and configuring and deploying Windows-based client applications. As the title of the self-assessment indicates, those who take it must be familiar with Microsoft Visual Basic 2005.
Title: Microsoft Windows-based Client Development with Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 and Microsoft Visual C#
Description: This assessment focuses on the same skills and knowledge as the preceding assessment, except that those who take it must be familiar with Microsoft Visual C#.
Assessments: Develop for Web
These items concentrate on developing Web-based client applications for the Windows desktop, and focus primarily on user interface and managing the client side of a Web-based application, including application state, server communications, HTML and XML controls and so forth.
Title: Web-based Client Development with Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 and Microsoft Visual Basic 2005
Description: This assessment focuses on the skills and knowledge needed to build and deploy Web-based Client Applications by using Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 and Microsoft ASP.NET 2.0. Once again, this encompasses a wide range of topics, interfaces, and technologies, including how to build a user interface with such things as Web server controls, HTML controls, HTML server controls, master pages, themes and other features of ASP.NET 2.0. Other topics covered include how to integrate data using ADO.NET, maintaining application state, managing navigation, tracing, configuring, implementing security and deploying Web-based client applications. Some coverage of ASP.NET Mobile Web applications is also part of this assessment, which assumes that those who take it are familiar with Microsoft Visual Basic 2005.
Title: Web-based Client Development with Microsoft® Visual Studio® 2005 and Microsoft Visual C#
Description: This assessment focuses on the same skills and knowledge as the preceding item, except that it assumes those who take it are familiar with Microsoft Visual C#.
Those developers who are either planning to or interested in using either Visual Basic 2005 or Visual C# to create desktop or Web-based Windows client applications will probably be pretty well served by taking one or more of these assessments. At a minimum, they will help to highlight areas where training or study can help to improve necessary skills; at a maximum, they can help define a detailed learning plan for coming up to speed.
Ed Tittel is a full-time writer and trainer whose interests include XML and development topics, along with IT Certification and information security topics. E-mail Ed at email@example.com with comments, questions, or suggested topics or tools to review.