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Getting Started: Becoming a BEA Certified Developer on WebLogic Server 6.0

Getting Started: Becoming a BEA Certified Developer on WebLogic Server 6.0

Are you looking for something to differentiate yourself from your peers in this tighter job market? BEA WebLogic Server Certification may be for you. It provides employers, or potential employers, with additional evidence that you're qualified for developing solutions on the BEA WebLogic Server platform.

Are you looking to advance in your professional career, or get a raise? BEA WebLogic Server Certification may be the thing for you! Many employers offer salary increases or bonuses is for attaining technical certifications.

One such certification program is jCert, created by BEA Systems, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, and Sybase. The BEA Certified Developer Test qualifies as a jCert Initiative test. More information on this can be found at www.jcert.org.

There are many reasons to become a BEA Certified Developer, but the best is to prove to yourself that you are truly qualified.

Certification starts with the BEA WebLogic Server 6.0 Certification Test. This is a multiple-choice/short answer exam that tests your knowledge of WebLogic Server 6.0. By passing it you demonstrate a level of knowledge that qualifies you as a BEA Certified Developer. In addition, passing the test allows you to display the BEA Certified Developer logo on your resume and/or business cards.

BEA recently changed the prerequisites for this test. Previously, you needed to have your Sun Java Programmer Certification before you could qualify to take the WebLogic Server Developer Certification Test. However, BEA has eased the requirements and now their Web site simply suggests that you have at least a "working knowledge of Java" before taking the test. In addition, BEA suggests that you have three to six months of hands-on WebLogic Server experience as a prerequisite. Though it is possible to pass by simply studying the appropriate material, having some real experience with WebLogic Server development will certainly make it easier.

BEA-recommended prerequisites include two BEA education classes: "Developing Applications using BEA WebLogic Server Version 6.0" and the "J2EE Core Technologies and Developing Enterprise Applications with Enterprise JavaBeans Using WebLogic Server Version 6.0." Although these classes don't take the direct approach to helping you gain your developer certification, they do provide a wealth of study material. To get the full benefits from the education services to cover the test, though, you really need to take an additional class on administering WebLogic Server: "BEA WebLogic Server Version 6.0 Administration". For more information on the BEA education classes, visit http://education.bea.com/education/sales/course_catalog.jsp.

There's another prerequisite that isn't listed on the BEA Web site: this series of articles. I'll provide a helpful study guide that will enable any developer familiar with BEA WebLogic Server 6.0 development, or in some cases, a developer just familiar with general J2EE development, with enough material to effectively study for the test.

Signing Up
Let's start by signing up to take the test. First, you need to visit the Prometric Web site, www.2test.com. Select "Find a Test Center" from the top navigation bar. Once you're at the "Test Center Locator," enter BEA Systems and your country. Make sure you have test number "0B0-200 WebLogic Server 6.0 Developer Certification Exam" and your state. After you enter your language, find the test center that's most convenient to you. Make a note of its name and address. In addition, be sure to record the number of the test center, which is usually the two-digit state code followed by a number. Now you're ready to call Prometric to schedule the test.

You can reach Prometric at 877-205-6873. Simply tell the operator which test you wish to take, 0B0-200, and the number of the test center you found on the Web site. The operator will offer you the first available date, but you can schedule any available testing date and time. At this time, you'll have to pay for the test, which costs a little more than the Sun Java Programmer Certification Test, at $200. After arranging payment by credit card (Visa, MasterCard, or American Express), you are ready to take the test.

On the day of the exam, be sure to arrive at the testing facility a few minutes early. Not only will this ensure that you're there on time, but also that you have the time needed to sign in. Early arrival may also calm any nerves you have before taking the test. Be sure to bring along photo ID and don't bother to bring any books, paper or pencils; they're not allowed. Everything you need will be provided.

After you take the test, you'll immediately be given a stamped score report with the results. It will indicate whether you pass or fail; a score of 72% is considered passing. Remember, since the test consists of 60 questions, you cannot miss more than 16! Be sure to hold on to the stamped score report at least until you receive your certification packet because it's the only real evidence that you passed the test.

If you do pass, congratulations! You'll want to send a copy of your information to the BEA certification fulfillment center to receive a certification package that contains a framed copy of your certificate and a white BEA Certified Developer polo shirt (see Figure 1). Be sure to provide a letter with the following information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • City, State, Zip, Country
  • Phone number
  • E-mail address
  • Shirt size
  • Name as you would like it to appear on the certificate
  • Date you completed the test

Fax the letter and a copy of the BEA WebLogic Server 6.0 Developer Test score report to the fulfillment center at 408 570-8921. Be patient, though, the certification package takes three to six weeks to arrive after you submit your request. Be sure to confirm all of the above information at the BEA certification Web site: http://education.bea.com/education/certification_checklist.jsp.

If you fail the test, you're eligible to retake it as soon as possible. Unlike other vendors, BEA places no restrictions on retakes of the exam, so you can try as many times as needed - even on the very next day if you want to. Of course, you'll have to call Prometric, schedule the test, and pay $200 for every additional time that you have to take it. So, it's best to study very carefully for the exam so you can pass it on the first try.

Studying for the Exam
In my opinion, studying for this exam is a bit more difficult than studying for any other large vendor certification test. Many of the large vendors, such as Sun and Microsoft, have a lot of practice material that you can study to help prepare yourself for their certification tests. Unfortunately, the BEA WebLogic Server 6.0 test has very little study or practice material written especially for it. An exam study guide is available from the BEA certification home page (http://education.bea.com/education/study_guide.jsp), but it contains a series of Web links that may be too general to use as effective study material. A single sample test is available, but only for BEA Star Partners and not the general public; so for the most part, there is no practice exam available. The BEA Web site does provide a list of exam objectives. Based on that list, the test covers the following high-level topics:

  • Designing and building enterprise components
  • Designing and building Web components
  • Demonstrating database connectivity
  • Using transactions
  • Configuring, packaging, and deploying enterprise applications
  • Using vendor tools to monitor and manage the server
  • Configuring the server

For the complete list of exam objectives, visit the BEA certification Web site at http://education.bea.com/education/certification_test_objectives.jsp.

As you can see, these exam topics tend to be very general, making it difficult to decide where to start your exam preparation. Even the study guide Web links can be very general. For example, one requirement listed in the Study Guide (http://education.bea.com/education/study_guide.jsp) is "Design and build reusable enterprise components"; the two resources listed to study are www.componentsource.com/BuildComponents/ WhitePapers/EJBWhitePaper.asp and http://java.sun.com!

What It Covers
Having taken certification tests before, I knew how detailed some of the questions could be and I assumed that the WebLogic Server 6.0 test would be similar. As I was studying, I found it a little irritating not to have anything detailed to focus on. Therefore, I've gone through and simplified some of the study work for you! I've broken BEA's test objectives into functional areas that a typical developer can more easily associate with. Hopefully, it will make the test easier to study for overall.

Web Applications
Questions on Web applications represent a large portion of the test. The questions cover general topics on HTTP Servlets and JSP pages as well as using the HTTP Session and Servlet Context. Understanding error handling, deployment, and Web application security is critical to passing the test. Special attention should be given to understanding delegation models in Web applications (forward and include).

Enterprise JavaBeans
The next most important technology is Enterprise JavaBeans (EJBs). Understanding the difference between the types of EJBs (Stateless Session, Stateful Session, Entity, and Message Driven) is crucial. The test also covers: writing EJB clients, including JMS clients, using EJB exceptions, and using EJB utility classes, such as SessionContext, in EJB applications. Understanding EJB deployment and deployment descriptors is also critical. I've put JMS in the EJB section because JMS accounts for only a small percentage of the actual test. You should understand JMS well enough to know how a client sends a JMS message to a message-driven bean.

Clustering

Surprisingly, a thorough understanding of the WebLogic Server 6.0 clustering features is important in passing the developer certification test. Understanding load balancing algorithms and how the high availability services function is also important.

Database Connectivity
A good understanding of general database connectivity is essential. Some of the questions are on JDBC, Connection Pooling, and Datasources. Other topics, such as Multipools, should be understood as well.

Transactions
A good understanding of the different types of transactions (container managed and bean managed) used in EJB applications is essential. Using the UserTransaction object is also a key topic.

Java Naming and Directory Interface JNDI accounts
for a small percentage of the actual test, but understanding it is critical in answering many of the questions. An experienced J2EE developer should have no problems with this topic, but be sure to spend some time covering the "java:comp" naming convention if you are not familiar with it.

Other Topics
Before you take the test, you should have a good knowledge of the WebLogic Server 6.0 Administration Console. In particular, understanding the server security model is vital, as is how to use the administration console to deploy EJBs and applications. Auxiliary topics, such as JMX and CORBA, will also be covered.

It's so important, it's worth mentioning twice. Be sure to go through the Server Administration Console and look at some of the different options you can set and monitor.

Conclusion
I'm sure this seems like a lot to study! You're probably thinking that I haven't really reduced the amount you have to study at all! But don't worry, in upcoming articles, I'll choose a topic (or two) and provide more details. Explanations and sample questions (and answers) will be provided for all of the topics mentioned above. Some of the detailed explanations may seem too basic for some of you, but the sample questions will help even the most experienced Weblogic Server developer.

Finally, passing the BEA WebLogic Server 6.0 Certification Test is the key to becoming a BEA Certified Developer. Hopefully, I've provided you with enough information to start studying and sign up to take the Test. If you want more general information on the certification program, be sure to visit BEA's certification site at http://education.bea.com/education/certification_program.jsp. Upcoming articles will offer more detailed coverage of the high-level test topics . Using these tools, along with your hands-on experience with BEA WebLogic Server 6.0 and some real studying, you should be able to pass the test and become a BEA Certified Developer. Good luck!

More Stories By Dave Cooke

David Cooke is an experienced software developer, currently working for Ness Technologies, Inc. a consulting firm located in Dulles, VA. In his current position, Mr. Cooke utilizes Java and BEA WebLogic Server 6.0 to build J2EE-compliant e-commerce systems for a variety of clients. Mr. Cooke has a bachelor's degree in Computer Science from George Mason University and maintains Microsoft, Java and BEA developer certifications.

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