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    SitePoint Evangelist jplush76's Avatar
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    Zend Certified

    Is anyone around here going to attempt to become "zend certified" ?

    I took the practice exam and was pleasantly suprised that the questions weren't just simple walk throughs. Although they weren't real world examples of things people should do, it made you think. Which is good because it will lower the pass rate which means it might actually mean something in the future.

    I ordered the study guide yesterday so I guess I'm planning on taking the test.
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    It's a bit late for me to attempt these exams as I'm pretty good at scripting PHP. Proberly would be interested in the exams were available a few years ago though

    But at the end of the day, what is more important is how the industry takes these certifications? Not doubting the quality of the examinations of course, but are they worth the paper they're written on, in regards will they help you at an interview for example?

    Nothing like experience in my view, and if someone had done a couple of sites and they were live, I'd be more inclined to deduce someone abilities from those sites more than a certificate. But in saying that I'd need source files to back those sites up as well

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    (Disclaimer: I'm a member of the Zend Advisory Board and helped write the exam.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Version0-00e
    It's a bit late for me to attempt these exams as I'm pretty good at scripting PHP.
    That makes no sense. :-)

    Quote Originally Posted by Version0-00e
    Nothing like experience in my view
    I think most everyone agrees with this. It's funny how opinions about the Zend Certification seem to be based upon whether it can choose your employees for you - it's as if people expect to be able to replace their interview process with an exam. I've interviewed my share of PHP developers, and I would never let an exam replace my interview process, even if it's the best exam ever written.

    If you are considering taking the exam, you should not base your decision upon whether this certification can get you a job by itself. If someone considers nothing except the results of an exam, then you don't want to work there.

    Quote Originally Posted by jplush76
    90% of the time the MCSE gets the job because its a respected test and you have to know your stuff. I'm hoping this applies to the Zend Cert.
    That's a very surprising comment. As we were writing the exam (in fact, as some of us were considering whether a Zend Certification was worthwhile), the MCSE certification was the biggest thing weighing on our minds.

    There is a stigma associated with certifications - that only clueless people have them. The MCSE is the primary reason for this. We felt that we had to overcome this stigma, because everyone's natural instinct is going to be to dismiss the exam as being pointless. In a sense, we had to start from behind the starting line - it's defnitely an uphill battle.

    Quote Originally Posted by Version0-00e
    Certifications I suppose just reinforces a point of knowledge if nothing more, but I don't personally feel insecure enough to sit an exam to gain a certification just to back up something I already know
    It has nothing to do with feeling insecure. Certifications aren't meant to prove your competency to yourself - they're for proving your competency to others.

    Quote Originally Posted by MiiJaySung
    any good employer who knows their stuff will realise that qualifications shouldn't be the main reason for choosing an candidate.
    This is the perspective that I will never understand. A certification doesn't have to be everything or nothing. It can just be something. :-)

    Quote Originally Posted by jbr
    In today's IT market, I never hear of Zend in daily conversation! It just is not widely accredited as a true creditable certification!
    Well, you might be getting confused. Zend is a scripting engine and a company. The company created the official PHP certification, but that's it.

    Zend is to PHP what Red Hat is to Linux, if not more. Your daily conversations might not include Zend, but that's not a standard that really matters. :-)

    Quote Originally Posted by jbr
    One of the reason for this is that PHP is used by more non IT type programmers than accredited IT programmers!
    This is one of the reasons why the certification has value. As someone who has significant experience interviewing PHP developers, I can tell you that most of the people I have interviewed were a waste of my time. I don't like to sound harsh, but that's the reality.

    I eventually created a short online test. I only interviewed those who passed this test. Of course, one important point is that the test did not replace any of the interview process. To do so would have been foolish on my part.

    This worked pretty well, but it had a couple of problems:

    1. It wasn't very thorough. I didn't want it to take too long, so I tried to stick to the basics.
    2. If everyone used my idea, a PHP developer trying to get a job would have to take a 30 minute test for each position. This would be annoying.

    The Zend Certification fulfills this need very well. Employers can be assured that the exam is thorough (more than my simple test), and employees can take a single exam.

    Quote Originally Posted by jbr
    Go to Hot Script or other places like it and you might find a script you might like, but many of them are really dangerous, because they follow the rule 'make it run' and not 'make it safe'.
    This is a separate problem, and it's one that I'm trying to address through education. I write and speak often on the topic of PHP security, and I recently founded the PHP Security Consortium (http://phpsec.org/) to help promote security awareness throughout the community.

    Quote Originally Posted by DougBTX
    Looking at the "self test", I feel that yes, it could distinguish between someone who know nothing, and someone who has read a book about PHP, but I don't believe the test could ditinguish between a programmer who had a little experience, and one who was actually skilled and well experienced.
    This is where the art of the interview comes into play. :-) Seriously, no certification can do this job for you.

    Quote Originally Posted by bianster
    I feel that that fact that someone is willing to study and pay for the Zend test says something about their attitude. That they are willing to go that extra mile to improve themselves.
    This is another area where the Zend Certification has some value. When I was actively hiring PHP developers, I preferred those who demonstrated a true passion for the language - those who were involved in a PHP user group, participated in forums or mailing lists, attended PHP conferences or seminars, etc. Being a ZCE demonstrates a certain amount of devotion to the language. You might still be just another 9-5 developer who sees programming as nothing more than a job, but odds are against that.

    Quote Originally Posted by McGruff
    In the OOP objectives there's no mention of design patterns or unit testing.
    Well, design patterns aren't an important topic in PHP 4 (a PHP 5 exam is not yet available), and unit testing has nothing to do with OOP.

    Quote Originally Posted by McGruff
    If I had to interview someone for a job - which I don't - that would probably be the only question I'd ask. The interview would be a half-hour TDD session during which I'd learn all I need to know about their abilities. If they couldn't remember if it's needle haystack or haystack needle who cares. That's what the manual is for. If they've never heard of continuous integration I'd be worried.
    That's your choice, but I feel that it's a poor approach (and I have a lot of experience in this area).

    How hard is it to teach a good developer what continuous integration is? How hard is it to teach TDD? If your interview process is complete, you'll learn many things about the applicant, such as:

    1. Do they have an agreeable personality?
    2. Do they seem to fit in well with your other developers?
    3. Are they smart? (Generic logic puzzles are often used to test this.)
    4. Do they know the language? (The Zend Certification can help here.)
    5. Do they know other specific technologies and methodologies that you value or that are important to your development environment?

    There may be more, but those are some basic ideas.

    Quote Originally Posted by jplush76
    unit testing is something that can be taught as a practice of development. knowing or not knowing PHP when interviewing for a PHP job is a different matter.
    Well said. :-)

    Quote Originally Posted by McGruff
    look for a php programmer who knows about unit testing (if you can find one) since that's important in itself and a good indicator of a general grasp of OOP design and modern best practices.
    Some of the leading experts on unit testing are Perl programmers. While they may also have a good grasp of OOP design, it's certainly not something you can prove by the fact that they know about unit testing. I'm not sure why you think this. :-)
    Chris Shiflett
    http://shiflett.org/

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    simple tester McGruff's Avatar
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    Chris - it's interesting to speak to someone who is involved with the exam. One of the best things about php is that it's a very easy language to get started in. One of the worst things about php is that it's a very easy language to get started in... The standard of most php code is appallingly bad - albeit it may be perfectly functional. That's enabling: at least an easy language allows people to produce something at all.

    However, it's not enough IMO for someone who aspires to be a professional programmer. The learning curve that many people follow is to start off with globally scoped code. Later they'll start using some functions. Maybe, after six months or a year, they'll start trying out classes. First attempts at class design often rely excessively on inheritance as a way to get objects to talk to each other then they'll discover design patterns - and Fowler, hopefully. With luck, they'll also discover our "open university" here on sitepoint.

    A few - too few - go on to experiment with testing and become test-infected. After another year of this, they should be beginning to become reasonably sophisticated programmers. It's a path I've followed myself and which I see others following. [edit: I should have said "a path I am following" I don't know if I would call myself a sophisticated programmer]

    So to me, testing (and OOP) indicates a certain level of skill and attitude. This is someone who has put a lot of effort into learning to program well. I see this as a minimum standard for anyone who aspires to be a professional - and I think this applies to php4 as much as it does to php5.

    If I took the zend test without a manual to hand I wouldn't like to bet on passing. I really do regularly need to check if it's haystack/needle or needle/haystack. But, to me, that doesn't say much about my real programming skills. Such as they are

    I think it's important to try to drive standards up, provide some clear goals for those who wish to learn more. My comments are also based on practical experience trying to maintain sites which aren't backed up with tests, or which aren't OOP code. Never again, not for any money.
    Last edited by McGruff; Jun 15, 2005 at 18:22.

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    ********* Victim lastcraft's Avatar
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    Hi...

    Quote Originally Posted by shiflett
    How hard is it to teach a good developer what continuous integration is? How hard is it to teach TDD?
    We now have unit testing (not necessarily TDD) as a minimum preinterview requirement. Not because it's hard to do, but because it is essential for serious refactoring. Serious refactoring is a sign that the developer is serious about the code. That's the kind of people we want, and so it's now ingrained as a minimum requirement.

    My favoured interview approach has become more sophisticated over the years. Firstly we never look at CVs and we never do interviews . We find no correlation between these and the final candidates. Instead we are sold on Johanna Rothman's audition system, and rely heavily on previous work.

    All candidates must send source code instead of a CV. This is a very effective screening mechanism. You wouldn't believe some of the (supposedly exemplary) code that gets sent . Another factor is blog or forum traffic as that is how we hear about the candidates in the first place (we tend to approach candidates rather than advertise jobs). The best thing you can have in your favour though is a Sourceforge project. That, more than anything, shows enthusiasm for the craft.

    Anyway, detail follows...

    Quote Originally Posted by shiflett
    1. Do they have an agreeable personality?
    The first thing we do is list the traits that we want. We recently hired a front end Javascript/HTML guy that was going to be handling the usability process. We wanted a good listener, someone who could communicate research, someone who could build a release plan with built in usability and someone we could work with given that we all knew zip about JavaScript.

    We discussed at length what sort of exercises would select our candidate.

    Next we lined up four 20-30 minute auditions for the candidate:
    1) Conduct a usability survey of our own site and presnt the findings in the audition.
    2) Do a usability test on some part of the site with a dumb user.
    3) A hypothetical release plan whiteboard discussion.
    4) A pairing session with our graphic designer to produce part of a web page.

    Notice how we have tailored it to the job at hand. We find it very difficult to reuse interview material.

    Quote Originally Posted by shiflett
    2. Do they seem to fit in well with your other developers?
    Pairing, CRC or whitevboard sessions are great for this.

    Quote Originally Posted by shiflett
    3. Are they smart? (Generic logic puzzles are often used to test this.)
    Total waste of time. It's usually obvious within 30 seconds of doing a task anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by shiflett
    4. Do they know the language? (The Zend Certification can help here.)
    This is where I differ. We actually couldn't care less. We can hire Java people to do PHP quite easily. Our main goal for server side developers is to get the OO skills in, have someone who cares about programming (and so has used several languages), and have someone who has some practice in writing clean code. At least if they have clean code they won't do too much damage.

    Quote Originally Posted by shiflett
    5. Do they know other specific technologies and methodologies that you value or that are important to your development environment?
    This is a pretty impossible goal, especially for a single exam. It's not just your environment, but the mix of skills you want on your team.

    I think core skills are more important for anything other than a short term contract. If they know what continuous integration is, then they care about consistent delivery. You must have had serious version control and deployment experience for this to matter. This makes it a good descriminator if that is the type of developer you are looking for. Choose the critera for the person you want to hire so as to balance the team, would be my mantra, although it doesn't hum well. The minutia of MySQL functions tells us nothing in any scenario (and dated now we have PDO).

    Now it won't surprise you to hear that we won't be asking for Zend certification right now. Would you be alarmed to hear (as a PHP employer) that I would expect it to have a negative impact on our hiring? It's partly the people we are aiming for, but the kind of developer that we want will simply not be interested in that kind of test. They won't see it as relevant and if we asked for it, our favoured candidates would look at us with derision and go elsewhere. It seems to aimed only at discriminating among the bottom rung of the ladder, and no one wants to hire from there.

    At least that's my impression from the materials I have seen. Maybe we should all have a go at the thing right now. Does it cost anything?

    yours, Marcus
    Marcus Baker
    Testing: SimpleTest, Cgreen, Fakemail
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    SitePoint Evangelist jplush76's Avatar
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    I'm hoping it actually holds value with employers
    IE would you take a network admin that has an MCSE or just someone who doesn't?
    90% of the time the MCSE gets the job because its a respected test and you have to know your stuff. I'm hoping this applies to the Zend Cert.

    If you're up against a programmer with the same experience as you but you have certification, $200 seems reasonable if you get the job over them. You might think you're good at scripting but thats your opinion, getting a 3rd party to verify your skills means, hey other people know I'm good too.
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    I'm not saying certification is bad or inadequate, far from it, but take an example that someone who has passed the examinations required to gain Zends certification (or any other certification for that matter) but has little or no experience in programming, generally speaking that is.

    Just because some one has the certification to do something doesn't mean they're fully capable of doing it. An appitude test would I think help route out the inadequate candidates to a certain degree though experience matters just as much, even today still

    I don't have a certificate of anything, and have no plans of sitting exams but I'd like to think that I'd at least be on a level playing field with someone with certifications

    Certifications I suppose just reinforces a point of knowledge if nothing more, but I don't personally feel insecure enough to sit an exam to gain a certification just to back up something I already know

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    SitePoint Evangelist jplush76's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Version0-00e
    but take an example that someone who has passed the examinations required to gain Zends certification (or any other certification for that matter) but has little or no experience in programming, generally speaking that is.
    My point was if two canidates are equal in terms of experience levels, could the zend cert push them over the edge and get the job. In a world where 200 resumes are sent for each job posting anything that could seperate you from the crowd is in your best interest... no?
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    Though certification is is good, along with any type of qualifications, if I was employing someone, i certainly wouldn't use it as a benchmark. Nothing replaces experience & good projects and being able to interactly show some of your skills in an interview. We often get people trying to apply for jobs who have left uni etc. Most of the time my boss bins these applications as generally we have looked at the quality of work they are capable of, it's generally utter crap. To me qualifications are over hyped and a waste of time in most (not all) cases. It's just a way for dumb personnel depts and agencies of being able to filter through job applicants when they have sod all knowledge of who they are trying to employ.

    At the end of the day I have no qualifications relating to computing (not even basic GCSE's etc). I don't have much of a problem, and any good employer who knows their stuff will realise that qualifications shouldn't be the main reason for choosing an candidate.

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    simple tester McGruff's Avatar
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    Hi Jplush.

    I'm curious: does the test include questions on testing or OOP design or is it all just basic vocabulary like how to use preg_replace_callback etc?

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    SitePoint Evangelist jplush76's Avatar
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    actually the only test I've seen is a small 8 question sample, I'm getting the study guide in the mail so I assume whats in that will be on the test. I'll post what I see.
    you can go to zend.com to take the test, under certification.
    From what I gather it will be on OOP, mySQL, structures, math, pretty much all facets of php programming
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    In a world where 200 resumes are sent for each job posting anything that could seperate you from the crowd is in your best interest... no?
    Yes, a certification in that situation may well put you closer to the top, and gain a second reading.

    Weather Zend could have that much imfluence though I don't know, to gain you a second reading, to make the interviewer stop for a moment and think, who knows?

    Zend in the last 18 months or so have been gearing themselves towards a more enterprise/business focal point, whereas before that they were merely a stopping off point for PHP developers.

    But now they've (Zend) have grown up and going by the amount of business they generate for themselves, and for PHP I suppose they just might have some clout

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    Hi

    To me Zend does not carry much influence, why I say this...

    In today's IT market, I never hear of Zend in daily conversation! It just is not widely accredited as a true creditable certification! sure it will find it's place in the IT market, but at this time it has no value! One of the reason for this is that PHP is used by more non IT type programmers than accredited IT programmers! This will change in time, but that process is slow!

    Then there are other problems...

    Because PHP learning curve is very easy compared to Perl or Java or other scripting languages, people are drawn to it. This causes problems for PHP, because 7 out of 10 PHP coders don't want to take the time to really learn PHP, and only want to just do enough to make their script work and nothing more! Go to Hot Script or other places like it and you might find a script you might like, but many of them are really dangerous, because they follow the rule 'make it run' and not 'make it safe'. You will find this problem more problematic in regards to PHP, than any other scripting language! This scares IT type companies away from using PHP, there are other reasons to, but I don't want to turn this into a story, hehehe!

    I don't think personal I will go for the Zend Cert, if one of the companies I develop for wishes to pay for it, then maybe I will go! I think the MySQL and Oracle courses and certifications were the most difficult for me. My 2 Cisco and 3 MS cert's were easy!

    If you go for any, I would say go for MySQL first, there are many F500 companies moving away from MS type DB systems and are flocking to MySQL!


    J!

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    Quote Originally Posted by jbr
    Hi

    To me Zend does not carry much influence, why I say this...

    In today's IT market, I never hear of Zend in daily conversation! It just is not widely accredited as a true creditable certification! sure it will find it's place in the IT market, but at this time it has no value! One of the reason for this is that PHP is used by more non IT type programmers than accredited IT programmers! This will change in time, but that process is slow!
    Funny you should Zend does not carry much influence... I honestly think that being able to say you are certified by the company that personifies PHP would be a good indicator you probably know what you are doing....

    Of course, I'm aiming at building a good code library and use that as a portfolio... but a cert would definately add a special bonus!

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    Quote Originally Posted by OfficeOfTheLaw
    Funny you should Zend does not carry much influence... I honestly think that being able to say you are certified by the company that personifies PHP would be a good indicator you probably know what you are doing....
    How many PHP jobs are listed in your local paper? Jobhunters? Temp Agencies? I live outside Los Angeles and haven't seen any in the last five years. That is what makes certification valuable, jobs to fill. If there are no jobs for what you are certified in, then it isn't worth your time.

    I do however understand that PHP has a much larger following outside the US than within its borders.
    Wayne Luke
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    SitePoint Evangelist jplush76's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hierophant
    How many PHP jobs are listed in your local paper? Jobhunters? Temp Agencies? I live outside Los Angeles and haven't seen any in the last five years. That is what makes certification valuable, jobs to fill. If there are no jobs for what you are certified in, then it isn't worth your time.
    where have you been looking??
    I get calls from headhunters every week it seems with new PHP jobs opening up in orange and LA counties. 2nd of all tech jobs aren't "temp agency" type jobs, and most tech jobs don't advertise in the paper.
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    interesting post jbr, appreciate it. Does MySQL offer the cert or is it done through a different company?

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    Because PHP learning curve is very easy compared to Perl or Java or other scripting languages, people are drawn to it. This causes problems for PHP, because 7 out of 10 PHP coders don't want to take the time to really learn PHP, and only want to just do enough to make their script work and nothing more!


    Enough said basically, and it's this point that is really worrying. It is a worry as there are people out there who pawn themselves off as developers, and a fact of the matter is that they are not, regardless of what certification they may have.

    For an example of a badly developed website, look at www.portpcs.co.uk

    I know of the person responsible, maybe not personally but I know enough to suggest how and why the sight should be redeveloped, properly and all I got were excuses. Speaking to the owners is pointless it seams as they're happy enough with it.

    Happy enough in that it ain't gonna cost them 2500 to make it a viable ecommerce site that is w3c complaint that is. From what I can tell, they paid about 150 for it, and you know what?

    They got exactly that - a pile of s***e

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    SitePoint Evangelist jplush76's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Version0-00e
    It is a worry as there are people out there who pawn themselves off as developers, and a fact of the matter is that they are not, regardless of what certification they may have.
    thats the whole point of certification summed up right there!
    there are people that read half a book on php and go and market themselves as freelance developers or full time php programmers. The zend test doesn't seem an easy one and it will at least prove you know a great deal about the language.
    I can bet my life after taking that practice test that the pass rate will be lower than you think.

    certs can separate people who talk smack from people who can back it up. If you can pass this course outline: http://www.zend.com/store/education/...objectives.php
    then you show you have a well rounded exposure to PHP programming.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jplush76
    thats the whole point of certification summed up right there!
    Looking at the "self test", I feel that yes, it could distinguish between someone who know nothing, and someone who has read a book about PHP, but I don't believe the test could ditinguish between a programmer who had a little experience, and one who was actually skilled and well experienced.

    Knowing what count("123") outputs says you know what count does, it says very little about how well the person can write software.


    Douglas
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougBTX
    Looking at the "self test", I feel that yes, it could distinguish between someone who know nothing, and someone who has read a book about PHP, but I don't believe the test could ditinguish between a programmer who had a little experience, and one who was actually skilled and well experienced.

    Knowing what count("123") outputs says you know what count does, it says very little about how well the person can write software.


    Douglas
    I can't agree with you .... more.

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    I am from the old schoold and believe that a Degree is the best qualification you can get.....At university they teach you to apply you skills to respond to change, so it is in my opinion a waste of time going and getting a MCSE or even a CNE etc......these are just ways of making money....

    A degree should hold you firm in any situation...

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    Quote Originally Posted by dd1313
    I am from the old schoold and believe that a Degree is the best qualification you can get.....At university they teach you to apply you skills to respond to change, so it is in my opinion a waste of time going and getting a MCSE or even a CNE etc......these are just ways of making money....
    I'm not against people making money. I think money is great. :-)

    I agree with you about the value of formal education. I have a computer science background, and I truly appreciate what that education has given me.

    However, I think it's important to realize that theory by itself is not as valuable as a nice balance of theory and practice. Those who seek to attain practical skills are not wasting their time. It's true that their theoretical foundation will outlast these skills, but theory is most useful when you apply it.
    Chris Shiflett
    http://shiflett.org/

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    SitePoint Zealot metacube's Avatar
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    @ Sweatje: Congrats


    Quote Originally Posted by DougBTX
    Looking at the "self test", I feel that yes, it could distinguish between someone who know nothing, and someone who has read a book about PHP, but I don't believe the test could ditinguish between a programmer who had a little experience, and one who was actually skilled and well experienced.

    Knowing what count("123") outputs says you know what count does, it says very little about how well the person can write software.
    Agreed. I think the test shows nothing about how well a person can program (PHP). I can code some pretty nifty stuff, nothing too fancy, but functional, modular and well thought out. But I don't know what 'count("123")' returns, as I've never ever thought of passing a string to count. I might look in the manual though, if I ever came across a string in a count() statement. Does that make me a bad programmer? That I don't know all of PHP's 6000 (wild guess) functions off by heart? Of course not. The self-test is misleading, and I really hope the real cert exam isn't like that. Sweatje... how was the exam?

  25. #25
    eschew sesquipedalians silver trophy sweatje's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by metacube
    @ Sweatje: Congrats
    Thanks.


    Quote Originally Posted by metacube
    ...
    Sweatje... how was the exam?
    Here was what I said earlier in the thread


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