Dissecting the IBM Certified Developer Test

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XML (extensible markup language) is the foundation of emerging Web services and semantic Web technologies. The development of XML expertise is critical for developers who want to remain competitive in the tight IT job market. Innovating companies need solid internal XML expertise to bring their products and services to market faster than their competitors.

In November 2001, IBM released the IBM Certified Developer Test #141 on XML and Related Technologies. The objective of the test is to validate the skills of developers who are creating applications that make use of the following specifications: XML 1.0, Namespaces, XML Information Set, XML Schema, Simple API for XML (SAX), Document Object Model (DOM), XPath, XLink, XPointer, extensible Style Sheet Language Transformation (XSLT), XSL Formatting Objects, XML Encryption, XML Signatures, Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), Web Services Description Language (WSDL), and the Universal Description, Discovery and Integration (UDDI). The exam questions cover not only language syntax, but also system architecture, testing and tuning. The test is not specific to any IBM XML or Web Services tool. All exam questions are strictly related to open specifications published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

The approximate number of exam questions is 57, and the duration of the test is 90 minutes. The format is multiple-choice, and the required passing score is 58 percent. To register for the test, go to www.2test.com/index.jsp or call (800) 959-EXAM.

Prerequisites
You should have some background in programming or scripting in one or more of the following languages: Java, Visual Basic, C, C++, C#, JavaScript, VBScript, Perl, etc. Basic knowledge of object-oriented programming and relational databases is useful. Familiarity with HTML is recommended.

Exam Objectives
The exam objectives include five sections:

 

 

  • Architecture
    This section tests your ability to create the appropriate architecture for an XML application based on specific business and technical considerations. For example, you should know when it is appropriate to use the Simple API for XML (SAX) as opposed to the Document Object Model (DOM). You should be able to state the exact role of the following Web Services standards: SOAP, UDDI and WSDL. Finally, you should have an understanding of the basic principles of XML encryption and XML signatures.
  • Information Modeling
    The questions in the information modeling section test your ability to analyze and model data, design document type definitions (DTDs) and XML schemas, establish XML namespaces and validate an XML document. This section requires a knowledge of the basic principles of XLink and XPointer.
  • XML Processing
    To answer all questions related to XML processing, you should have some experience with the Document Object Model (DOM) and the Simple API for XML (SAX). There are questions on how to navigate and transform XML data with XPath and XSLT respectively.
  • XML Rendering
    You need to understand how to use CSS, XSLT and XSL Formatting Objects to format XML data for presentation.
  • Testing and Tuning
    You should be aware of the various techniques that are available for optimizing and testing XML applications. These techniques include the modularization of XML schemas and XSLT style sheets. You should be able to determine the best approach for testing an XML application.

 

Preparing for the Exam
The first step is to assess your readiness by taking the IBM Test #141 sample test at www-1.ibm.com/certify/tests/sam141.shtml. If you already have some experience with XML, the result of the sample test will point you to the sections of the exam objectives where you need to improve your knowledge.

Finding the Resources
IBM provides a list of resources that are available for preparing the exam at www-1.ibm.com/certify/tests/edu141.shtml. There are two discussion groups on the Internet where you can post questions and read answers: the Java Ranch Forum at www.javaranch.com and the XML Certification Forum at groups.yahoo.com/group/xml-cert/. The following free open-source XML tools can be downloaded from xml.apache.org:

 

 

  • Xerces, an XML parser.
  • Xalan, an XSLT processor.
  • FOP, a formatting engine for implementing XSL formatting objects.
  • Apache SOAP, a SOAP toolkit for experimenting with Web services.
  • XML Security, a security suite that implements the XML Encryption and the XML Signatures specifications.

 

The tools contain detailed documentation. The authoritative source for all exam topics is the W3C Web site at www.w3.org.

Choosing the Right Training Solution
If you decide to take an XML certification class, you should make sure that the class covers absolutely all exam questions. It also helps to find out if past students of the class have successfully passed the test and were satisfied with the learning experience.

E-learning technologies offer the opportunity to eliminate some of the costs related to travel expenses (plane ticket, hotel and other expenses) and the downtime resulting from time spent away from work. With e-learning, you can prepare the exam from your office or from your home, at a lower price than classroom training. However, if you decide to prepare the XML exam with an e-learning training solution, you should pay particular attention to the following two quality criteria:

 

 

  • The e-learning class should use a hands-on coding approach with real-world project scenarios. This is only possible if the trainer has hands-on project experience in XML.
  • The training program must create a collaborative learning environment that accommodates personal interaction (student-to-student and student-to-trainer). This can be achieved in a live virtual classroom, if the learning experience is properly designed.

 

If you are employed by a company that offers an employee development program, bringing the XML certification on-site can dramatically reduce the tuition fee per student. You can convince your manager to sponsor your training by explaining the cost savings over hiring new employees or consultants.

IBM Test #141 on XML and related technologies covers a wide range of competencies required in most XML projects. The exam preparation process gives you the opportunity to get the knowledge and skills that you need to create enterprise XML applications efficiently. After assessing your readiness with the IBM sample test, you should select a training solution or exam preparation approach that is optimized for your specific needs. When you pass the exam, you will join an elite group of certified XML professionals. You will be well-positioned to be the best candidate for the next XML opportunity.

Joel Amoussou is founder and chief learning architect of XMLMentor, an XML certification training provider also specializing in XML application development. Joel has created XML applications in the aerospace, pharmaceutical and publishing industries. He spoke at numerous international XML conferences. You can reach him at joel@xmlmentor.net.

 

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