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Comprehensive questions (java version, javadoc, booking)

 
Christian Pflugradt
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Hi!

First of all I want to say that I really enjoy reading in this forum and appreciate the prompt and patient replies. While I haven't exactly been active here I have been studying the threads and especially Roberto Perillo's paper to get an impression of the SCJD respectively OCMJD before taking on it. I have also been reading Andrew Monkhouse's and Terry Camerlengo's book about the exam and after I have written a RMI based J2SE server component for a complex application at work I can say I'm feeling ready for the exam.

I have a few general questions about the exam and would like to have your opinions about them. I didn't want to open three separate threads at once so I hope it's fine if I put them all in one thread. I do expect anyway that they can be answered very briefly.

1.) Which Java version should/can I use?
I was really confused when I read the following in my instructions about the java platform in the assignment: "that platform must not have been superseded by a new production version for more than 18 months". The assignment voucher I purchased at Oracle was titled "Java SE 6 Developer Certified Master Assignment 1Z0-855" ( link: https://education.oracle.com/pls/web_prod-plq-dad/db_pages.getpage?page_id=653&get_params=p_id:153 *have a look at the bottom if you want to use this link* ). At wikipedia, I read the (hopefully correct) update history of Java SE 6 versions and it states that the final public update for Java SE 6, which was Java SE 6 Update 45, was released on 2013-04-16. That is more than 18 months ago already. I really don't mind using Java SE 7 but that contradicts the product I've bought from Oracle and I don't want to get an instant exam fail because of a misleading description by Oracle.

2.) Should I enrich the provided DBAccess with javadoc?
There are two statements I find contradictory in my instructions and since both are must requirements I believe I could again get an instant fail because of a misleading description by Oracle. a.) "Your data access class [...] must implement the following interface [DBAccess]". b.)"javadoc style comments must be used for each element of the public interface of each class."
The interface provided must be used, hence I'd rather copy it one to one in the respective package. However it does not contain javadoc but I must use javadoc for each interface in my assignment. Technically though this interface is not written by me and if I edit it even by removing existing comments and replacing them by javadoc comments it is not the provided interface anymore but something changed by me. I wonder why Oracle did not simply use javadoc in this interface or make a clear statement whether I should correct their interface in my assignment or not. Should I touch the DBAccess interface to add javadoc? Should I leave the descriptions as they are or should I add common tags (param, throws etc.), thus using my one wording to describe the methods in the interface provided by Oracle?

3.) Booking
This is a functional aspect and one with a potentially big impact on the behaviour of the application. I understand that Oracle wants to simulate "real life situations" and leave some things unclear. However in real life there is usually a kick off meeting for projects and (depending on the size of the project) workshops. Based on what I read in my instructions I would just implement a "book" option which would set the booking customer in the respective field for the respective contractor. This means the record is booked indefinitely unless someone edits the database file (manually or by another process/program). There is again some wording by Oracle that confuses me. That might be though because English is not my native language, so I hope you can clarify it: "The number of workers available when this record is booked" - So what does this field contain when the record is not booked? Is this a hint that multiple customers can book the contractor at the same time and this field indicates how many workers are still available for further bookings? This does not fit with the owner field though which only has space for one customer. Or is it only the number of workers the customer will get (whether they want or not) when they book the contractor? How does that make sense when a contractor who could do the work required has 20 workers and the customer only wants 2? Do they have to take all 20 or say okay let's wait for a smaller contractor to be available. That would be very inflexible and probably bad for business for the larger contractor if no customer requires the exact amount of workers available by the contractor. Independent from that: What about "unbooking"? What if a booking is cancelled, was done by mistake by the CSR or the work is done? I see no word about that in the instructions. Shouldn't the booking be based on a date or time range? Is there a process that regularly removes bookings from the database so that they are available again? In a real life situation I'd clear this up before starting to implement this part of the application. Often enough I had situations that customers didn't think everything through, forgot important business cases or use cases or weren't even clear about certain aspects among themselves (I had workshops in which the representatives of the customer debated for hours how they actually wanted the feature to be which they could have simple done in an internal meeting without involving me). I understand if Oracle leaves this feature out because it would add too much complexity but can't they then just state "For the sake of complexity you might assume that bookings are closed by another process directly working on the database and not being related to your assigment". I might have missed or misinterpreted something very obvious so I'd like to hear your opinion.



Some rumbling (not related to my questions, you don't need to read this)...
I'm very disappointed by Oracle's level of professionalism. I had some misunderstands when our purchasing department bought me the voucher. They already registered a pearsonvue account for me but didn't tell me about that. So I had to merge my pearsonvue accounts, which I didn't know about I had to do at first. The only instructions I received from Oracle said "Register online or via phone at Pearson VUE". I did this but didn't notice anything obvious where to use the voucher so I contacted Oracle support. On my first contact with Oracle I was told to contact a pearsonvue test center nearby to make an appointment even though I stated I purchased a voucher for the Java Developer certification which is a download and not a training or test in a test center.
I was redirected by Oracle to a phone number from pearsonvue support. This phone number was based in my home country, Germany, but when I called, the support was sitting in the US speaking English. I'm not really fond of talking English on the phone especially when the connection is bad and my contact has a strong dialect. Anyway this supposed German phone number I got from German speaking Oracle support didn't even lead me to pearsonvue's Oracle support but to their Cisco support. Great. After staying some more time on the phone I got redirected to a rather unfriendly lady from pearsonvue's Oracle support who told me several times she couldn't help me if I didn't have an Oracle ID. I told her I had an Oracle testing ID and I had my login for the pearsonvue site as well as for the oracle.com site but she didn't want to help me further without an Oracle ID, whatever that is.
After some more contact with German Oracle support I finally figured out that I got a second account registered at pearsonvue which was done by my employer. While this entirely my fault (me as "me and the company I'm working for") certainly Oracle / pearsonvue support could have been clever enough to figure that out. I was then told to contact pearsonvue and ask to merge the account. I did so and after I haven't received a reply over a week I contacted pearsonvue again to ask about progress. They told me it was usually done within five working days and I would not receive any further note about when it was done. Oh please is it so hard to to give a brief automatic reply after action is taken? At least let me know in advance if I don't get a further note because every normal support would let me know when an issue is solved so that I can test if afterwards.
Anyway when this was done I didn't know how to use my voucher. There was no obvious change in my pearsonvue profile so again I contacted Oracle asking the same question I was asking in the beginning: "Could you please give me detailled instructions where in my pearsonvue profile can I access the voucher?". Oracle support apparently felt overwhelmed so my issue was forwarded to the Oracle Certification Program (OCP) team. On May 26th I received reply from OCP asking me to provide them the original mail with the voucher purchase confirmation. It was not until July 3rd that OCP send me the set of instructions on how to use my voucher which I asked about in the very beginning some time in March. I believe a professional customer service could have clarified the issue within a few days as the only things wrong were 1.) I had a second pearsonvue account that should be merged with my primary one. 2.) Oracle's instruction "Register online or via phone at Pearson VUE" didn't help me to use the voucher (also thanks to unhelpful pearsonvue support on the phone) so I needed more detailled instructions. Really was that so hard to take almost four months?
Additionally to that, Oracle has two mistakes in their assignment instructions. I'm a person who always instantly detects any grave writing mistakes (usually in my native tongue but also in English) and in my assigment instructions the word "constractors" is used. I believe no such thing exists and it should be "contractors" instead. Also my class for accessing the database should be called "Data.java". That is impossible! I believe they mean to say the class should be called "Data" and as a result the file hosting it is called "Data.java". I don't mean to be a smartass but from what I've read these instructions exist since about ten years or even longer (unless these two passages where changed recently) and Oracle didn't notice or didn't care about this within a century. Oracle declares that the assignment must be completed within six months and yet their support takes four months and multiple to and fros between Oracle customer support, pearsonvue support and OCP to solve an issue as simple as mine. Oracle declares that certain criteria are an automic instant fail and Oracle representives wouldn't even bother to have a look at the assignment after that yet they use ambiguous terms and instructions that don't even relate to skills as a programmer (Java 1.6 vs. Java 1.7 is my primary concern). If Oracle demands this level of professionalism from the assignment takers and is bold enough to automatically set the assignment as failed if certain aspects deviate (and without further discussion it seems), assignment takers should expect the same level of professionalism from Oracle and their assignment instructions. Just my personal opinion...

* Side note for the link posted above: This forum didn't let me post this thread with the original link because there is some auto detection of unwanted expressions in this forum. This should probably not take URLs into account but anyway. In the link I've added a space character between the letters p, s and l because otherwise the auto detection refuses to have my thread created and tells me the following about this specific combinations of letters: "...is a silly English abbreviation; use "please" instead." Another hurdle overcome, sigh...
 
Paweł Baczyński
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Briefly.
1. Java SE 6 in the certification name is... just a part of the name. Don't be worried about it. Java SE 8 was released at March 18, 2014, less than 18 months ago, so you might use version 7 or 8.
2. My interpretation is you have to use provided interface does not mean you can not add javadoc comments to it. I javadoced (fancy word) my DBAccess interface and I passed.
3. I am not familiar with B&S assignment so I'll let someone else give you the answer.
But I can advise this. If your instruction does not say anything about unbooking, don't bother implementing unbooking. The instruction says you won't receive any credit for implementing something that was not required.

I believe the instruction is sometimes misleading on purpose. Maybe they want to test how a person deals with unclear requirements and how the person justifies his or her decisions.
 
Christian Pflugradt
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Paweł Baczyński wrote:Briefly.
1. Java SE 6 in the certification name is... just a part of the name. Don't be worried about it. Java SE 8 was released at March 18, 2014, less than 18 months ago, so you might use version 7 or 8.
2. My interpretation is you have to use provided interface does not mean you can not add javadoc comments to it. I javadoced (fancy word) my DBAccess interface and I passed.

Hi Paweł,

thank you for your reply. I will then use Java SE 7 since I haven't yet used any of the Java SE 8 features. I think it makes an important difference whether SE 7 / SE 8 can be used or not since everyone taking on this exam has done SCJP / OCPJP before and that one was version specific (I took the one for SE 6 and I could be sure that no questions regarding SE 7 would be in the exam).

I thought so about the provided interface but it's good to get confirmation, I'll then just add javadoc as I see it fits.

Paweł Baczyński wrote:I believe the instruction is sometimes misleading on purpose. Maybe they want to test how a person deals with unclear requirements and how the person justifies his or her decisions.

I have noticed some things that require decisions (magic cookie, DuplicateKeyException etc.) and that's fine with me since part of the exam is making decisions and elaborating them reasonably in the choices file but I don't see how making a decision about whether to use Java SE 6 or later reflects my skills as a programmer. That's part of the general context I have to fulfill this assignment in and it should be defined clearly in my opinion, same as Oracle states that assignment takers can use an IDE of their choice as long as all code is written by them (they could have left that out as well and just state that only libraries included in SDK must be used). Anyway, I don't want to start a discussion about that, it wouldn't change anything on the matter anyway. ;-)
 
Roel De Nijs
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Christian Pflug wrote:thank you for your reply. I will then use Java SE 7 since I haven't yet used any of the Java SE 8 features. I think it makes an important difference whether SE 7 / SE 8 can be used or not since everyone taking on this exam has done SCJP / OCPJP before and that one was version specific (I took the one for SE 6 and I could be sure that no questions regarding SE 7 would be in the exam).

Java 8 was released on March 18, 2014 so that means that you have to submit your assignment before September 19, 2015. Because from that date Java 7 is superseded by a new production version for more than 18 months...

Christian Pflug wrote:2.) Should I enrich the provided DBAccess with javadoc?

I kept the DBAccess as-is and passed as well, so you can choose

Christian Pflug wrote:3.) Booking

I also had the EarlyBird assignment, so I'm not an expert of the B&S assignment. But I'm on this forum for a long time and I can't remember anybody having to subtract workers because 2 customers want to book just a few of the workers.

I assume your database file structure has a field "The number of workers available when this record is booked" and another field "customer id". If the record is not booked, customer id is empty. If the record is booked, the id of the customer is written to the "customer id" field (and then that customer has booked the number of workers mentioned in that field. So for the booking process you just need to enter a customer id and fill the appropriate field. So if the number of workers available is 20, then that customer has booked all 20 workers.

A few other important notes:
  • keep it simple (an easy to understand but slightly less performant solution is preferred above a complex solution with better performance
  • just stick to what the assignment requires. Only search and book are required, so don't start implementing unbook functionality and creating new records from the GUI, because that's not required and will not give you any extra credit (you can only lose points if there's a bug in your code)


  • About the assignment: I think the assignments are still the same as when I took the SCJD certification in 2009 (and it was still Sun not Oracle). I think your assignment still mentions something about "stubs and skeleton" (if you opt for the RMI approach).

    About the poor Oracle/PearsonVue support: almost every question I have is related to one of the certifications. I always create a service request to the OCP team using the OCP Support Form. On every occasion I got an appropriate (and helpful) answer within a few business days.

    Hope it helps!
    Kind regards,
    Roel
     
    Christian Pflugradt
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    I just uploaded my submission jar and have my essay scheduled for in about two weeks. Tomorrow I'm going on holidays to leave everything behind for a while. ^-^

    I haven't tried the OCP platform but my impression of Oracle hasn't become better. I had few issues getting the essay exam. I now know that it would have been best to get it right away along with the assignment exam but I haven't. The assignment was purchased by my former employer last year. Earlier this year I moved to a new job and I had to purchase the essay exam on my own. I ordered it directly at the Oracle website (with my account logged in) but I didn't receive any confirmation e-mail. The page displayed after I purchased the voucher told me to wait for a confirmation e-mail and the payment instructions coming with it. Nothing arrived (of course I checked my spam folder) and so I decided to contact Oracle about it. Since it was urgent for me - I have to have everything finished till beginning of January - I didn't want to rely on general Oracle support and thus contacted the support address that was given in the assignment instructions.

    This was about two weeks ago and I still haven't received any reply from who2contact@sun.com. Fortunately I figured out where else to get the essay exam on my own (through my pearson vue profile). When I tried to order it I was notified that I first would have to upload the submission jar. From some posts on this forum I deduced that you could theoretically take the essay exam before uploading the assignment though Oracle would probably not approve of that but maybe they changed that (and it makes sense). So today after doing some last checks I uploaded my submission jar and registered for the essay exam.

    The upload however did not go as smooth as I hoped. I was working on the assignment on a notebook with Elementary OS installed which is a Linux distribution and uses Midori browser per default. When I entered the upload mask I was able to choose a local file and select it, but the upload aborted without any given error message. That is poor design even though I accept that it didn't work with that browser since it's not very popular. I tried to use TOR browser which is basically firefox then and I didn't even see an upload button. Okay that's the downside when working with Linux I thought, so I switched to my work notebook which runs Windows 7 64bit. I logged into pearson vue and tried to upload the file with both an up to date Internet Explorer and an up to date Firefox. In one case I saw only a gray panel, in the other just a white page, instead of the upload button. Well then back on my Linux notebook I downloaded Chromium to see if it gives me any hints of what might be wrong and as the only of the five browsers Chromium displayed the 'upload button element' big enough for me to see that it was a flash element (and its appearance reflected that flash was not installed).

    So to recapitulate:
    - Oracle names its exam SE 6 even though I would fail if I used anything but SE8
    - Oracle doesn't send me a confirmation e-mail and doesn't even notice by themselves that due to an error the e-mail wasn't send (I find it hard to believe that it would get lost on the internet, that never happened to me before and trust me I'm sure that I didn't made a spelling mistake when I entered my e-mail address)
    - Oracle ignores my request for help to the e-mail address that was specifically mentioned in the instructions to get in touch with if any serious questions arise
    - Oracle forces us to install Flash to upload the assignment, one of the biggest gateways to infect your computer with malicious code from the internet
    - Oracle upload form doesn't give you feedback when an internal error occurs within Flash during the upload and it doesn't tell you that you need Flash when Flash is not installed, something that almost any website is able to do

    But still:
    - We can automatically fail if our assignment structure doesn't reflect what Oracle expects, for instance I would probably fail automatically if I named my version file version2.txt with no second chance
    - We are expected to pay the 250 something euros / dollars for the essay even though Oracle could filter out automatic failures before (and the money paid for the second part would be wasted in that case)

    I find that pretty unfair but what can I do? :-/ Anyway I just didn't want to leave my thoughts untold, I'm already feeling better now and looking forward to see the result of my hard work in a few weeks. :-)
     
    Roel De Nijs
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    Back in the Sun(ny) days, this was a pretty popular certification. But the mandatory course requirement turned it into a very expensive one and popularity decreased dramatically. And that's probably the main reason why this certification exam is not really maintained at all. And that shows on different levels: instructions are outdated (e.g. it still uses a sun.com email address), the title of the certification still mentions Java 6, seemingly poor browser support for the upload tool, and so on.

    Christian Pflug wrote:This was about two weeks ago and I still haven't received any reply from who2contact@sun.com

    Probably the best way to get in touch with Oracle about certification related questions/doubts is using the Oracle Certification Program (OCP) Support Form. There is even an option for "Oracle Certified Master OCM" I have used that form multiple times and answered my inquiries each time within a few business days. So definitely no complaints about their support.

    Christian Pflug wrote:When I tried to order it I was notified that I first would have to upload the submission jar. From some posts on this forum I deduced that you could theoretically take the essay exam before uploading the assignment though Oracle would probably not approve of that but maybe they changed that (and it makes sense). So today after doing some last checks I uploaded my submission jar and registered for the essay exam.

    I remember from the early days you could take your essay exam and upload your assignment a few days later. But it makes more sense to upload your assignment first and then take the essay exam (which contains 4 open questions about your application). But maybe this process might have changed slightly.

    Christian Pflug wrote:- We are expected to pay the 250 something euros / dollars for the essay even though Oracle could filter out automatic failures before (and the money paid for the second part would be wasted in that case)

    Most of your criticism is justified (certainly about the poor subimission upload form). But on this one you are incorrect! You have to take the essay exam only once. So even if you would (automatically) fail for your assignment, the money for the essay exam would not be lost. In fact, the grading process won't start until you have submitted the assignment and have taken the essay exam. So only if you have completed both parts, the grading process is started. And if you would fail, you only have to purchase another resubmission voucher, improve your assignment on the parts where you have failed and resubmit the assignment. You don't need to take the essay exam again.

    Christian Pflug wrote:Tomorrow I'm going on holidays to leave everything behind for a while.

    Enjoy your holidays! After finishing the assignment, it's definitely time to relax a bit and have some I did exactly the same (went on holiday few weeks after submitting the assignment and taking the essay exam on the same day) and I got a pretty good result So let's hope going on holiday after finishing your assignment has a (very) good influence on your score

    Happy holidays!
    Kind regards,
    Roel
     
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