I’m now an MCSD in Application Lifecycle Management!

MCSD_2013(rgb)_1509Well, after previously saying that I’d would give the pursuit of further certifications a bit of a rest, I’ve gone and acquired yet another Microsoft Certification.  This one is Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer – Application Lifecycle Management.

It all started around the beginning of January this year when Microsoft sent out an email with a very special offer.  Register via Microsoft’s Virtual Academy and you would be sent a 3-for-1 voucher for selected Microsoft exams.  Since the three exams required to achieve a Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer – Application Lifecycle Management exams were included within this offer, I decided to go for it.  I’d pay for only the first exam and get the other two for free!

So, having acquired my voucher code, I proceeded to book myself in for the first of the 3 exams.  “Administering Visual Studio Team  Foundation Server 2012” was the first exam which I’d scheduled for the beginning of February.  Although I’d had some previous experience of setting up, configuring and administrating Team Foundation Server, that was with the 2010 version of the product.  I realised I needed to both refresh and update by skills.  Working on a local copy of TFS 2012 and following along with the “Applying ALM with Visual Studio 2012 Jumpstart” course on Microsoft’s Virtual Academy site, as well as studying with the excellent book, “Professional Scrum Development with Microsoft Visual Studio 2012” that is recommended as a companion/study guide for the MCSD ALM exams, I quickly got to work.

I sat and passed the first exam in early February this year.  Feeling energised by this, I quickly returned to the Prometric website to book the second of the three exams, “Software Testing with Visual Studio 2012”, which was scheduled for March of this year.  I’d mistakenly thought this was all about unit testing within Visual Studio, and whilst some of that was included in this course, it was really all about Visual Studio’s “Test Manager” product.  The aforementioned Virtual Academy course and the book covered all of the this course’s content, however, so continued study with those resources along with my own personal tinkering helped me tremendously.  When the time came I sat the exam and amazingly, passed with full marks!

So, with 2 exams down and only 1 to go, I decided to plough on and scheduled my third and final exam for late in April.  This final exam was “Delivering Continuous Value with Visual Studio 2012 Application Lifecycle Management” and was perhaps the most abstract of all of the exams, focusing on agility, project management and best practices around the “softer” side of software development.  Continued study with the aforementioned resources was still helpful, however, when the time came to sit the exam, I admit that I felt somewhat underprepared for this one.  But sit the exam I did, and whilst I ended up with my lowest score from all three of the exams, I still managed to score enough to pass quite comfortably.

So, with all three exams sat and passed, I was awarded the “Microsoft Certified Solution Developer – Application Lifecycle Management” certification.  I’ll definitely slow down with my quest for further certifications now….Well, unless Microsoft send me another tempting email with a very “special” offer included!

I’m now a Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer!

MCSD_2013(rgb)_1477Ever since my last post about Microsoft Certification, I’ve been slowly beavering away to study and take the two remaining exams that would allow me to be recognised as a Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer: Web Applications.  I had passed the second exam back in April, and this past Saturday, I took the final exam required to gain the Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) certificate.  I’m pleased to say that I passed.

The MCSD: Web Applications certification is an interesting one and has allowed me to brush up my study and skills on a number of languages and technologies despite me using most of these day in and day out in my day job!

The first exam (70-480 – Programming in HTML5, JavaScript & CSS3) that I took back in February required some study of HTML5 and CSS3, although I’m using both of these technologies in work.  Additional study certainly helps, though, as I was probably only using a small amount of these technologies as I’m mainly working on legacy code.  Passing this exam, as well as being one of the three exams required for the MCSD certificate, came with it’s own certificate – a Microsoft Specialist certificate.

The second exam (70-486 - Developing ASP.NET MVC 4 Web Applications) was relatively simple.  This exam was all about building ASP.NET MVC 4 applications and this was an area that I had a good amount of knowledge and experience of.  I’m using ASP.NET MVC frequently within my day job when trying to improve our legacy code base one small piece at a time, and I’m also using ASP.NET MVC in some of my own software that I write for fun in my spare time.

The third and final exam (70-487 - Developing Windows Azure and Web Services) was the really interesting one of the three as this was all about web services (primarily using ASP.NET MVC Web API) but specifically using Windows Azure as the deployment platform.  I had only really started to scratch the surface of ASP.NET MVC Web API and, although I was aware of Windows Azure’s existence, I’d never used it at all.  Around 8 weeks prior to taking this exam, I started to look into studying more of ASP.NET MVC Web API and tried to implement some of it’s functionality in my own spare-time projects.  I was also somewhat fortuitous that Microsoft happened to be running a free trial promotion with Windows Azure whereby you could receive $200 of free credit that would last 1 month during which time you can spend that on any Azure services you like.  This enabled me to not only read about and study Windows Azure from books, articles and blogs but to also get some real-world hands-on experience with the platform.  This was a big boon and I believe it helped me immensely when it came to taking this final exam.

So, having now acquired the MCSD certificate, where to from here?  Well, I’m not sure.  I’m very happy with the certification I’ve been able to obtain thus far, so I’ll enjoy that for the time being and think about my next move later in the year.

Another Microsoft Certification acquired!


Ever since gaining my MCTS (Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist) and MCPD (Microsoft Certified Professional Developer) certificates at the end of 2011 and the early part of 2012 I’ve had an appetite to acquire more.  Life seemed to get in the way of this during 2012 so that was, unfortunately, a quiet year on the certification front.


Well, it’s now 2013, and Microsoft have recently revamped a lot of their certification offerings.  A new type of certification that they’ve introduced is that of a Microsoft Specialist.  The Microsoft Specialist certification seem to be a replacement for the old MCTS (Microsoft Technology Specialist) and is effectively a certificate awarded for showing competence in a specific piece of Microsoft Technology, of which there are quite a number.


During the latter part of 2012 and the early part of 2013, Microsoft were running a promotion to take a free exam.  This was exam 70-480 – Programming in HTML5, JavaScript & CSS3.  Successfully passing this exam would award the exam taker the certification of Microsoft Specialist – Programming in HTML5, JavaScript & CSS3.


Well, towards the end of February of this year, I sat and successfully passed the exam acquiring the certification of Microsoft Specialist – Programming in HTML5, JavaScript & CSS3.


This is one of three exams that, when all three are successfully passed, will gain the new style Microsoft Certified Solution Developer – Web Applications certificate.  I guess the rest of this year’s certification journey has just been mapped out!