Tips, tricks and all the info about Microsoft Visual Studio 2008

Microsoft Certification in Visual Studio 2008

, posted: 6-Mar-2008 09:00

Certification can be a vast and bewildering experience.  Let me take you by the hand into the Promised Land.  But first, a bit of history never hurts.

Visual Studio 6.0
Back before .NET, before Technology Specialists, you only had two exams to prove you understood the entire Visual Studio concept:

• Desktop Applications (either Visual C++ 6.0, Visual FoxPro 6.0 or Visual Basic 6.0)
• Distributed Applications (same language choices)

Additionally, if you wanted to prove you were a Premium Candidate in interview situations, then you couldn’t go past the Microsoft Certified Solution Developer.  This required two extra exams:

• Analysing Requirements and Defining Solution Architectures (Exam 70-100)
• 1 Elective Exam (e.g. SQL Server 7.0, Access 95(!), Access 2000, Exchange Server 5.5, Visual InterDev 6.0, FrontPage 98)

Visual Studio .NET (.NET 1.0)
Fast forward and the first .NET offering tacked on XML.  You had to do all three, if you were going for MCSD:

• Windows-based Applications
o Exam 70-306 (VB.NET) or Exam 70-316 (C#.NET)

• Web Applications
o Exam 70-305 (VB.NET) or Exam 70-315 (C#.NET)

• XML Web Services and Server Components
o Exam 70-310 (VB.NET) or Exam 70-320 (C#.NET)

The Microsoft Certified Application Developer was kind of like a Solution Developer “Lite”.  With the addition of XML, the MCSD became 5 exams.  Therefore, the MCAD, with its requirement of only 2 exams was an intermediate step towards it.  The requirements were either:

• XML and Web; or
• XML and Windows

The Solution Developer certification morphed into the MCSD for Microsoft .NET with the cleaning up of those elective exams:

• Analysing Requirements and Defining .NET Solution Architectures (Exam 70-300)
• 1 Elective Exam (e.g. SQL Server 2000, BizTalk Server 2000, Commerce Server 2000, Security, MSF 3.0)

Visual Studio 2003 (.NET 1.1)
The exams for this version of Visual Studio did not change. 

Visual Studio 2005 (.NET 2.0)
With this version, a whole new generation of certification was first unveiled.  The MCAD and MCSD certifications were not discontinued, however those tracks will not have any transition path to the newer qualifications.  Instead, the concept now is to move a candidate from a Technology Specialist, to IT Professional to a Professional Developer:

1. A Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist certification demonstrates Core Technical Skills:

• 1-3 exams
• Certification retires with product support
• Focused on key product or technology
• Does not include job role skills.

2. A Microsoft Certified IT Professional certification demonstrates Breadth of Skills:

• Allows generalists, consultants and experienced professionals to show broad skill sets
• Allows specialists to show depth

3. A Microsoft Certified Professional Developer certification demonstrates Professional Skills:

• 1-3 exams
• Recertification required
• Technology Specialist Prerequisite
• Focused on single Job Role

In this version of Visual Studio, the language (either VB.NET or C#.NET) was merely a selectable option as part of the exam, rather than a separate exam (a much more sensible method).  A MCTS must pass two exams.  First, you had to prove you understood .NET:

• .NET Framework 2.0 Application Development Foundation (Exam 70-536)

Next, the specialisations were:

• Web-based Client Development (Exam 70-526)
• Windows-based Client Development (Exam 70-528)
• Distributed Application Development (Exam 70-529)

Finally, for MCPD you needed:

• Web Developer (70-547)
• Windows Developer (70-548)
• Enterprise Application Developer (Exams 70-536, 70-526, 70-528, 70-529, 70-549)

Visual Studio 2008 (.NET 3.5)
In my opinion, things just got a whole lot trickier.  Up to now the specialisations were easy: Web, Windows or Enterprise.  Now, I’m forced to make a decision between six options.  Each of the below is the Technology Specialist exam:

• .NET Framework 3.5 Windows Presentation Foundation Applications
o Exam 70-502
o Due March 25

• .NET Framework 3.5 Windows Communication Foundation Applications
o Exam 70-503
o Due March 27

• .NET Framework 3.5 Windows Workflow Foundation Applications
o Exam 70-504
o Due March 28

• .NET Framework 3.5 Windows Forms Application Development
o Exam 70-505

• .NET Framework 3.5 ADO.NET Application Development
o Exam 70-561
o Due May 12

• .NET Framework 3.5 ASP.NET Application Development
o Exam 70-562
o Due May 21

The good news for those of us who have already embarked on the .NET Framework 2.0 track, is that the Exam 70-536 is being renamed and retained.  We do not have to sit a new .NET 3.5 Exam. 

The new name for the 70-536 is Technology Specialist: Microsoft .NET Framework, Application Development Foundation.

So, in summary, if you’ve already started on either the MCSD or MCAD tracks in the past, then the following table will help you to decide which new qualification you should attempt:

Should you make the jump now?  Not quite, the exams won’t actually exist until the end of this month.  If you’re in the process of certifying for Visual Studio 2005, then continue doing so.  However, I fully recommend making the jump to the new Visual Studio 2008 exams as soon as practical.

Download Visual Studio 2008 90 day trial
For detailed information and to request a free 90-day trial DVD of Visual Studio 2008 Team Suite to be sent out to you, go to the Microsoft Visual Studio webpage.

About the Author
James Hippolite has been a published reviewer and solution developer for over 20 years.  He first became a Microsoft Certified Professional in 1996, when it wasn’t cool.  He woke up in 2001 and realised that remaining in Desktop Applications (specifically Microsoft Access) wasn’t going to feed the kids and pay for cool technology, so purposefully changed career direction into Enterprise Applications (specifically VB front-end and SQL Server backend).

He lives in Wellington and is currently employed full time in a large corporate and loving the regular hours that non-consultants enjoy.

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