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Tony Cagle

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since Mar 07, 2008
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Recent posts by Tony Cagle

I have been looking for information on the WAS 7 administration exam myself since early this year. I have yet to find anything.

I am starting my studying in earnest now and I am a little concerned that I don't see any private testimonials or discussions about this exam online. After Googling for a bit I thought I finally found something - only to open up my own post from this forum earlier this year.

After I take the exam I will make it a point to post about my experience (how hard it was, what prep I used, etc) and try to answer any questions about it.

I hope the lack of community discussion does not speak to the gradual obsolescence of this product...

Tony
9 years ago
I have been looking around for a community or at least some testimonials on the Websphere administration exam. When I google anything about the exam. all I get back is a huge list of mock exam products. Are any of you folks interested in this exam or do you know of a good online community I can either plug into or at least find some tips on taking the exam from real life examinees?

Thanks!

-Tony
SCJA
I finally passed my SCJA exam!

I have been an application architect for several years working in both .Net and Java technologies, so I have had some Java programming experience behind me, but I have never been a full time Java coder. What I have focused on is object oriented designs and decisions concerning specific technology stacks (like the Java stack using stuff like Swing, Hibernate, RDBMS, J2EE servers, etc). If you look at my scores below, I think you will see how my exam reflected my strengths and weaknesses in regard to Java technology. I think this is a great testament to the meaningfulness of this exam as Sun designed it. As I understand it, this exam is focused less toward full time programmers, and more toward project managers, architects, and other similar technology leads.

While I started studying for this about a year and a half ago, I stopped abruptly after about a month of light study due to a reorg in our company. I picked it up again at the beginning of last month and it took about 4 weeks of preparation (with several hours of study each day).

Other than some previous Java experience (no full time programming work experience), I only used Cameron McKenzie's SCJA certification guides. I can't say enough about these books - they were awesome!! Also, don't buy the white study guide without buying the black Mock Exam Questions book. There is a reason why he published both books together - they are essentially one package. If you are suffering from sticker shock (the books are $54.99 each), let me give you a tip: If you are working on the certification through your work, the price of these two books is a great bargain for you company compared to the price of a training class or conference (remember air-fair and hotel aren't cheap either). While $110 may seem a lot to you personally, it is chump change for your company. They wasted more than that already in this morning's meeting on those two managers who sat their mutely and everyone was like "why are they here?" - that's project billable time people!


Seriously, if you are going for your SCJA - you need these books. Period.


Total Score: 82%

Fundamental OO Analysis:....................................87%
UML Representation of OO Concepts: ..................100%
Java Implementation of OO Concepts: ..................87%
Algorithm Design and Implementation: .................50%
Java Development Fundamentals: ........................83%
Java Platforms and Integration Technologies: ......100%
Client Technologies: ...........................................60%
Server Technologies: ..........................................85%


There were two particularly challenging things about this exam. The first was the algorithm design. While this might not be difficult for a full time programmer, I found the looping structures to be very confusing. These are not simple "real world" scenarios. The areas I suggest candidates look out for in this area are:
- Break and Continue
- Autoboxing
- The intricacies of the different kinds of loops (For Each, While, Switch, etc) and the appropriateness of each in a given code scenario
- Passing Objects around (and the crazy By Ref and By Val rules in relation to Objects and Primitives)
- Array iteration
- String functions (startswith, trim, etc)
- char vs String and when to use double and single quotes

the second area I found challenging was a little surprising. I had a hard time with some of the questions around client technologies and web technologies. You will definitely need to know about AWT and Web Services. Now while I know about these technologies (AWT by book study, Web Services through years of real life experience), some of the questions were tricky. As an architect, my job requires that I create multiple designs for a solution and then weigh them against each other, or flush them out and ask someone else (the client/business partner) to choose their solution based on cost, desired technology, etc. So when I get a question like "Where is the best place to do user verification" and my options include Applet, Javascript, HTML, and Servlet, but only two of those answers are right - I am left scratching my head. (DISCLAIMER: That was not a real exam question! I don't quite recall the wording from the related question on the exam, but it was similar and actually made less sense than my example)

Because I have worked extensively with scripted languages like Python and AJAX frameworks over the past couple years, I found some of the questions to be a bit antiquated. Who the hell would choose an Applet to do anything when you can just use Flex?? But alas, these questions are not asking you to solve problems in the real world, they are asking you to solve problems in Javaland. In Javaland, an applet is a real solution, XML is human readable (who reads raw XML anymore??), and javascript is a quaint HTML extension used for button roll-overs.

This is not to disparage the exam at all. The OO design was intense - both in diagrams AND code. I came away from the test as a much better designer. Coding reviews used to make me a little nervous (don't tell anyone!) because I always figured the developers had a serious advantage over me at the deep code level. NO MORE! I feel like I could walk into any code review now and not only ask questions, but even provide some refactoring code of my own!

Thanks again to the awesome JavaRanch community and thanks to Cameron for his great books!

-Tony Cagle
SCJA (WOOHOO!)

9 years ago

Sai Surya wrote:


If a person starts doing BS at the age of 16, by the time he/she want to apply to Yahoo as an architect he/she will be 54 years of age.
Almost close to retirement



But at the same time, aren't companies like Yahoo looking for "young visionaries" to lead their company into the future? Considering the amount of age discrimination that goes on in this industry, I would be surprised if they hired someone in that met all of the criteria as described. I have co-workers who at some point begin shortening their resume to hide their age.

Billy Tsai wrote:For one to become a well respected good architect(application or solution or enterprise) one would need to make sacrifice and compromise, also endure pain and suffering.



Amen, Brother. The next round is on me

Misery loves company!


On a more helpful note: I think the last few years have been particularly difficult for architects since there isn't a lot of "greenfield" development going on due to the economic downturn. I do see this changing though, particularly in the area of cloud computing and some of the cool things Amazon and Google are doing in that space (did you guys see the new Google Java API?)

-Tony
When thinking about what to learn and what not to learn there are two things to consider. First is marketability of a certain technology, or in other words, will new job opportunities be available to me if I learn this? From what I have seen in the industry, the market is ripe for good Flex developers right now - its a very hot technology. Flex is in a good position right now because it has essentially passed its experimental/early adopter phase and is moving on to the mainstream - but there is not a glut of programming resources available right now. The second thing to consider is: do you like programming rich web functionality? If you prefer something like deep database development, or developing enterprise integration networking services, Flex is probably not for you. But if you like putting together highly functional web apps with a cutting edge feel, Flex is definitely a technology you should consider.

Just my 2cents

-Tony
9 years ago
Thanks for the info.

As a part-time developer (and full time architect), I am not as entrenched in any JS framework technology, but for other projects in which I may be directly developing some RIA apps, how would you say Flex compares specifically with something like JQuery? What about integration with iPhone devices or cloud applications such as Google Apps or Force.com?
9 years ago
Our current RIA development efforts at work are done in AJAX - mostly Dojo with a little JQuery. Is there still a need for Flex in these scenarios or will Javascript do pretty much all the jobs I would need to do with Flex anyway since we are already fairly proficient with a couple AJAX frameworks?

-Tony
9 years ago
Thanks for the tip.
Love your tagline, by the way.

I always keep my towel handy - never know when the opportunity to catch another ride on a passing ship will present itself.

-Tony
9 years ago
I have Cameron's two certification guides and I have been studying off and on for a while. I also have UML Distilled which I use for work often, but it covers lots of topics like Use Cases and Sequence diagrams. While I use these a lot at work (I am a general-purpose architect), what specific UML diagrams are covered on the exam? i.e. what parts of UML Distilled should I use to supplement Cameron's books?

Thanks,
Tony

From Amazon's book description:
Topics covered: UML basics, analysis and design, outline development (software development process), inception, elaboration, managing risks, construction, transition, use case diagrams, class diagrams, interaction diagrams, collaborations, state diagrams, activity diagrams, physical diagrams, patterns, and refactoring basics
9 years ago
Technical lead positions do very greatly from company to company. Mentorship of the more junior programmers is probably one of the biggest responsibilities you will be expected to perform. Also, translating business requirements will probably be a big part of your job.

Again, direction should really come from your employer since each company and IT department is different.

Good luck and congratulations on your new job!!
9 years ago
So what title would you prefer now if "Architect" as been debased? While I understand the frustration of bloated titles, we can all agree that the architect title did mean something "back in the day". Perhaps architects deal with large systems and not just large applications, as you say. How do we differentiate ourselves from those ambitiously-titled programmers?

Here is the trickier question: is there even a need for architects in most organizations anymore?
9 years ago
I have Cameron's two books and I have been studying off and on for a while. I also have UML Distilled which I use for work often, but it covers lots of topics like Use Cases and Sequence diagrams. While I use these a lot at work (I am a general-purpose architect), what specific UML diagrams are covered on the exam? i.e. what parts of UML Distilled should I use to supplement Cameron's books?

Thanks,
Tony

From Amazon's book description:
Topics covered: UML basics, analysis and design, outline development (software development process), inception, elaboration, managing risks, construction, transition, use case diagrams, class diagrams, interaction diagrams, collaborations, state diagrams, activity diagrams, physical diagrams, patterns, and refactoring basics.
9 years ago
I have seen several times that there is no "pre-requisite" for the SCEA, per se. I have been an architect for 10 years now, and I have coded a little bit in several languages (C# is my primary skillset when asked to develop at my company, for better or worse). I have been trying to move toward more open source technologies and away from the Microsoft stack, and Java is probably the best place to go - at least from an architecture standpoint.

I am about two weeks away from finally taking the SCJA (to prove to employers that I can do other things than just MS), but I was wondering what kind of leap it would be for a broadly experienced architect (read: jack-of-all-trades) to pursue the SCEA track.

Thanks,
Tony
@Frank:

I have been surprised at how many "googlers" I have met over the years. I would think that as a tech lead, one is primarily concerned with finding developers who can accomplish the task at hand in a timely fashion - however they achieve those results. For more common problem domains, I would hope that they would find a more common, industry standard solution - and what better place to find that than Google.

What might work better in weeding out consultants would be early code reviews where the tech lead actually does some googling themselves and compares the consultant's code to the first few hits from the search engine. Also, I have found that googlers have a much harder time with tasks that include newer technologies (like JSON over XML) or connecting to specific company data sources.

All of this, of course, requires a little more time on the part of the tech lead, but in the end I would hope you would be able to delegate more to trusted consultants and rest a little easier further into the project.
9 years ago