Pondering MCAD exam changes

What impact on the MCAD program can we expect in the wake of upcoming changes planned for developer tools, languages, and APIs? Here's a short list of what's known for sure.

Recently, an e-mail from an alert reader who asked when the MCAD program would be changing got me to thinking about

likely changes of focus and coverage in those programs in the wake of upcoming changes planned for developer tools, languages, and APIs. Here's a short list of what's known for sure on this topic:

* Microsoft has a version of Visual Studio 2005 in beta test, and most experts believe that it will ship no later than mid-year in 2005.
* Microsoft also has a version of the .NET Framework (2.0) in beta test right now as well, and it more or less has to ship at or before the same time that VS.NET 2005 goes out the door.
* Numerous major APIs are getting revised to follow suit, including ADO.NET 2.0 and ASP.NET 2.0, as well as programming language C#.NET 2.0.

This leads directly to a variation on the question the reader asked that might best be stated as: "What does this mean for the current slate of MCAD exams?" (In my next VS.NET tip, I'll cover changes one can expect for exams that appear on the MCSD but not on the MCAD, to round out this entire slate of offerings, so consider this the first of a two-part series.)

Let me begin this spate of speculation by hastening to add that what follows next comes from a look at what's in the current slate of exams, and what needs to be changed or added to catch them up with upcoming changes and new releases. Microsoft has yet to comment officially on any of this stuff, but a look at exam objectives and coverage shows the broad outlines of what will have to be involved. I present this in terms of comments on current MCAD exams by exam number, with links to individual exam pages for those who might be interested in following up.

* 70-229 Designing and Implementing Databases with Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition: this exam will probably be discontinued within a year of Yukon's 2005 release, and the replacement will take over this slot.
* 70-230 Designing and Implementing Solutions with Microsoft BizTalk Server 2000, Enterprise Edition: Given that BizTalk Server 2004 is out, it's just a matter of (short) time before a new exam is also released. Expect this exam to be discontinued within a year of the new one's release, with the replacement taking over this slot.
* 70-234 Designing and Implementing Solutions with Microsoft Commerce Server 2000: With a 2006 release for the next version of Commerce Server planned, it'll probably be 2007 before this exam is discontinued. Thus, it's a pretty safe (if not terribly popular) bet for the foreseeable future.
* 70-305 Developing and Implementing Web Applications with Microsoft Visual Basic .NET and Microsoft Visual Studio .NET: with new versions of VS.NET, new APIs, and a new .NET Framework upcoming, look for major changes to this exam. Because this is a core exam, however, it may last longer than a year after a new exam is introduced (core developer exams have lingered longer than others during past changeovers across major versions).
* 70-306 Developing and Implementing Windows-based Applications with Microsoft Visual Basic .NET and Microsoft Visual Studio .NET. See my comments on the previous exam, all of which apply to this core exam as well.
* 70-310 Developing XML Web Services and Server Components with Microsoft Visual Basic .NET and the Microsoft .NET Framework. See my comments on exam 70-305: they apply to this core exam, with the added proviso that changes to ADO.NET and ASP.NET will have a strong impact here, as will changes and additions to XML-based services as well.
* 70-315 Developing and Implementing Web Applications with Microsoft Visual C# .NET and Microsoft Visual Studio .NET. See my comments on exam 70-305: they apply to this core exam, with the added proviso that changes to C#, ADO.NET and ASP.NET will have a strong impact here, as will changes and additions to XML-based services as well.
* 70-316 Developing and Implementing Windows-based Applications with Microsoft Visual C# .NET and Microsoft Visual Studio .NET. See my comments on exam 70-305: they apply to this core exam, with the added proviso that changes to C#, ADO.NET and ASP.NET will have a strong impact here.
* 70-320 Developing XML Web Services and Server Components with Microsoft Visual C# .NET and the Microsoft .NET Framework. See my comments on exam 70-305: they apply to this core exam, with the added proviso that changes to C#, ADO.NET and ASP.NET will have a strong impact here, as will changes and additions to XML-based services as well.
* 70-330 Implementing Security for Applications with Microsoft Visual Basic .NET: Because this exam wasn't released until June, 2004, it's pretty likely that it will get a makeover instead of being replaced by an entirely new exam. Therefore, this one should be a pretty safe bet for forward-looking developers, as are 70-234 and 70-340.
* 70-340 Implementing Security for Applications with Microsoft Visual C# .NET: As with 70-330, this exam wasn't released unitl June, 2004, and will probably also be revised rather than being replaced. Another safe bet for forward-looking developers, but will involve language changes to C# planned, as well as VS.NET and API changes planned as well. It will be interesting to keep an eye on Microsoft's Learning Division to figure out when more news on these inevitable changes will become available. It probably won't happen until some time during Q1'2005, but count on me to keep you informed as the word gets out.

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 etittel@techtarget.com with comments, questions, or suggested topics or tools to review.

This was first published in December 2004

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