BizTalk Server 2010, Book, Certification, Learning

Published: (MCTS): Microsoft BizTalk Server 2010 (70-595) Certification Guide

The book has finally been published. I couldn’t be happier about it. It’s been a fun ride but reaching the finish line is always sweet.

The book itself is targeted at the BizTalk Server certification 70-595. We have done our very best to be as brief and as focused on the areas of the certification as possible, while still keeping it far away from being verbatim or a cheat sheet. We want people to come away having learned useful pieces of BizTalk Server, not only be able to successfully answer the certification questions. The book does contain a healthy number of certification style (but not certification copied) question and answers, with a short explanation of why and why not the correct answer applies. All you need to know is there, explained and put into context. Hand in hand with being certification bound and focused also goes carrying a thread throughout and across chapters that will make the book an easy and time efficient read. I hope, in the end, that we succeeded in that.

You can read all about the book and it’s content, as well as making purchases 😉 on either Packt or Amazon (or if you prefer and are in Sweden from Bokus).

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Authoring a book was more of a challenge than I anticipated. Not so much the writing in itself, but all the things that goes around it. All the editing and proof reading and keeping track of changes etc. The latter took basically half of the time if not more, both calendar wise and in number of spent hours. I would do it again if the title was interesting enough, but right now I have other plans for the summer.

Completing a book is a real team effort, and without the team at Packt and our reviewers the quality would not be at the level it is. Thanks to Kent and Morten, to all the people at Packt, Kerry especially, and to our reviewers, Jan Eliasen, Mikael Håkansson, Steef-Jan Wiggers, Todd Uhl among others.

Kent has written two post (1, 2) on the progress of the book as well.

BizTalk Server 2010, Certification

The 70-595 exam and the first rule of fight club

I’ve had a not-so-few asks to blog about the 70-595 exam. I’m answering those calls with this post.

The exam launched on march 30th. I actually tried taking it on the 7th of April, though due to technical difficulties, on Prometric and the testing sites behalf, I had to leave without getting a chance to do it after waiting 90 minute for the issue to be resolved (see my twitter history if you want more on that story). I found the time to come back a week later though, on the 14th, and manage to successfully pass the exam.

70-595 is the Developing Business Process and Integration Solutions using BizTalk Server 2010 exam. Its coverage includes core BizTalk functionality as well as extended capabilities. The excerpt from the exams Microsoft learning page is:

Configuring a Messaging Architecture (20 percent)
Developing BizTalk Artifacts (20 percent)
Debugging and Exception Handling (17 percent)
Integrating Web Services and Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) Services (14 percent)
Implementing Extended Capabilities (13 percent)
Deploying, Tracking, and Supporting a BizTalk Solution (16 percent)

Which brings me to the first rule of fight club, and why Tyler Durden would be a good MCP (therefore not claiming that we (MCPs) are all insomnia cursed paranoid schizophrenics in any way ;).  But, “You don’t talk about fight club”, as in “You don’t talk about the contents of certification exams”. In fact you actually agree to an NDA about the contents of the exam – not that that stops any of the cheat sheet providers out there or the people that use them, but it does me. Therefore, you will not find any details as to what kind of questions or what specific areas were covered. All I’m going to say about the contents of the exam is that it pretty much mirrored that division into areas.  So let’s delve into that…

…and rephrase those percentages in another way:
Core functionality (like messaging, development, debugging, deploying, tracking and troubleshooting) make up roughly 90%, and BAM, BRE, RFID and EDI make up the other 10 percent.

Since the test is 50 questions, that would mean that on an average 45 question would be on the core functionality and 5 questions on the rest.

Following on with the math lesson that means that you are very likely to make the passing score of 700 (out of 1000), without any deeper knowledge on the “extended capabilities”. Which I know will be a soothing thought for a lot of people. No guarantees though, because it’s not always a 1 question =  1000/50 points kind of thing.

If you want to truly ace the test, you’ll really need to know all of your BizTalk, including reading into things like RFID. I did not ace the test (as in a perfect 1000), though I did reasonably well; close enough for me to be pleased and well within the margin.

How did I prepare is a question that often follow along with the ask to write a post on the subject. Others might compose a prep guide. I won’t. Not in this post anyway. I do have a simple answer with two sides to it for you though. One the one side – I didn’t. On the other – I prepared working in real BizTalk projects over the course of 6 years, 5 version of the product and took the two exams that came before this one. What I am saying is – if that sounds anything like you you are likely to just as I did just go take the test, and you’ll likely be fine. If it doesn’t – well, you know yourself best – perhaps you need to study?

On the note of previous tests, I found this to be about the same level of difficulty as the 2006 exam, though easier then the 2006 R2 exam. I don’t know about the 2004 exam – I never did that – you’ll have to ask someone like Jan or Thiago about that comparison.

Anyway, I encourage you to go take the exam, and if you do – best of luck to you!

Certification, WCF, WF

.NET 3.5 Certifications in BETA

I got inivited to do the beta exam 71-504: TS: Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 – Windows Workflow Foundation. Once in a while I get these kinds of invites, those of you who are certified and have reached a certain level and/or participated in beta exams before know what they are. Given my experience from beta exams from the past they are usually much longer then your regular exam, often containing up towards 90 or so questions making you busy for a bit longer then the run on the mill exam. With betas running now the exam itself will probably go live sometime this spring or early summer, although the exam site says March. As my primary interest at this point in time is BizTalk, I have a fair understanding of workflow, but it’s been two years since I was involved in actually doing real-world projects in WF and back then it was in beta. I’ll probably not do this exam, especially since the beta period runs through January 4th, and I’m on vacation. I’d much rather do the beta exam for Windows Communication Foundation, but so far I haven’t seen any invite for that. Full list of current and comming certifications is here. So far there seems to be no practice tests available for these new exams for those of you who like that learning path, but I’m sure they’ll popup soon after the tests become available.