Certify your XML knowledge

XML has spread like wildfire within the IT community. Microsoft has fully embraced it within the .NET initiative, and the Web service movement is fueled by XML. Most developers have some firsthand experience with XML, but how can you quantify this XML knowledge?

XML has spread like wildfire within the IT community. Microsoft has fully embraced it within the .NET initiative, and the Web service movement is fueled by XML. Most developers have some firsthand experience with XML, but how can you quantify this XML knowledge? Certification is the answer with IBM’s Certified Developer – XML and Related Technologies exam.

Stand out in the crowd
Certification is an important aspect of career development. It shows that you’re proficient in the related technology. Additionally, it demonstrates that you’re motivated, by maintaining your edge in a very competitive industry. XML certification is just as important as other certifications like NET, Oracle, or Java. IBM was the first to offer an XML certification path.

What to know
The IBM exam contains approximately 58 multiple-choice questions. The questions range from basic definitions to more analytical queries. For example, the exam may present an XML sample and ask you to determine if it is well-formed or validated according to a given schema or DTD.

The exam is all encompassing, so you must be proficient in the various aspects of XML. The first requirement is a thorough knowledge of the XML fundamentals. This includes knowledge of the following topics:

  • Well-formed vs. validated XML
  • Parsing—the difference and aspects of both DOM and SAX
  • Transformation—XSLT basics
  • Validation—the differences and aspects of both schemas and DTDs
  • XML security basics (signature and encryption)
  • Xpath basics
  • Utilize namespaces
  • Using cascading style sheets (CSS) to transform or produce XML
  • Architecture is another major area of the exam. The goal is assessing your abilities to apply the correct technology in a given situation. The exam has the following goals related to XML architecture:

  • Determine the implications of a given architecture on XML design considerations
  • Select appropriate XML technologies for an architecture (XML Schema 1.0, XSLT 1.0, DOM2, SAX2, XPath 1.0, Namespaces, DTDs)
  • Design functional components and interconnections for an XML application architecture
  • Assess performance trade-offs related to parsing, validation, and transformation
  • Web services
    Although the exam does not thoroughly test your Web service knowledge, it does test your familiarity with the different technologies that form the Web services initiative. These include SOAP, WSDL, and UDDI. You should know that SOAP is the transport, WSDL is used for definition, and UDDI serves as a directory.

    Personal experience
    I tackled this exam almost 18 months ago and found it very straightforward. The questions were not tricky or inconclusive as questions on similar exams can be. As stated earlier, a thorough knowledge of XML and relevant technologies will ensure a passing score. Numerous questions involved examining sample XML and answering questions about it. In addition, thorough knowledge of the different parsing technologies (DOM and SAX) is imperative.

    Are you serious?
    A variety of resources are available if you are serious about becoming certified. Unfortunately, no printed books are available, but you can access numerous online resources for test preparation. Here is a short list:

  • IBM XML Certification Test Simulator and Tutorial
  • XML Pitstop
  • IBM Web site's certification road map
  • These sites provide thorough overviews and review material as well as sample exams.

    Other exams
    IBM was the first to offer XML certification, but other vendors have added similar certifications. The CertifyXML.com Web site provides an overview of its Certified XML Expert exam. The certification is fully supported by OASIS, the XML interoperability consortium. The exam utilizes a different approach from IBM, so check out the site for more details. Brainbench also offers XML Certification via an online test from their Web site.

    What are you waiting for?
    I hope you are now ready to solidify your XML knowledge claim. The IBM exam lets you back up your XML experience with an industry-accepted certification, and there is no bigger name than IBM.

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