I'm MCP, SCJP, SCBCD and now SCEA 5, when I took the SCEA 5 Beta, I was wondering if this will be as difficult or easy as the other ones, and it was very interesting just because Beta means "you will not have any help on, nobody took this test before and you will have only your knowledge with you".
Because of this I started this blog, to share my experience in this test and let you know the key elements you must be aware to pass this out.
The certification is compound by 3 parts.
1. The first part is a multi choice exam just like the others, it will test your knowledge about JEE and Design patterns
2. The assignation is the second part, you will get an assignation which will be similar to a real life assignation, this means that you will face it as a real application should be faced.
3. The third part is the easy one if you did the assignation, they will ask you about some common decisions made during design time, like Authentication, authorization issues, security, scalability, maintainability, and so on. This part will be evaluated as part of the assignation, so you will not have to wait to pass the second part in order to start this one.
If you think you are ready to pass this test, just ask yourself:
- Did I worked enough with Case Use , Sequence Diagrams, Class Diagrams, Deployment Diagrams, etc? if the answer is no, go and take some practice on this, I'm pretty sure you will not pass it if you don't have some experience about these topics. (you don't need to be a guru)
- Did you architect some solutions? were they successful solutions? scalable, maintainable, etc?
The first part is easy, you must know the following topics (these are from the java certification page):
Scalability, maintainability, reliability, availability, extensibility, performance, manageability, and security. These are very important and will be asked through all the test, you will have problems like: "How can you add new customers and keep the availability?" or "If you add a new layer you will lose in security, reliability, scalability or manageability?" (those are not exactly the answers, I'm not able to put the real ones in here)
Security. You will be asked for firewalls, protocols, etc. Its easy if you read about it.
Tiers. You will be asked about the advantages and disadvantages about two tier, three tier, n-tier, client-server. Remember, not always the n-tier is the best option, imagine you have a simple hello world application, will you create this with ejbs, db etc? be sure to take a look of this new post Two, Three, N-tier which one should I pick?
Messaging. You need to know how the JMS works, you will be asked for this, that's sure.
EJB. this test will be easy if you know EJBs and you already worked with them, GOOD NEWS: YOU WILL NOT SEE CODE IN HERE, yes... you will be asked about the life cycle, advantages, when to use Stateless, Stateful, CMT, BMT, etc, questions like: "will you use persistence to save the data in a Stateless or Stateful bean?", so be sure you create almost any JEE component in a sample and be sure how it works.
Web Tier. Here is the tricky part, you will be asked for JSF, JSP, Servlets, and will be little bit difficult if you didn't develop a web page, so... go and open your netbeans (or Eclipse) and start working in these concepts. I'm not sure why they ask the details of this, but they will. You will not find answers like: "Find the error in here ...", but you will be asked how can you use those technologies to solve some problems.
Patterns. Ok, here is the core of the test, you need to know the patterns described in the Blueprints guide, also the ones in the GoF, etc. The test does not ask too many questions about patterns, but its sure you will find some of them.
In addition, you can find some questions referring to CORBA, RMI, etc, so be sure to understand every term. If you have any further questions about the questions please let me know in the comments, I will try to answer it keeping care of the test disclosure.
Once you get the result of the first part you will be ready for the practice test, so how it works?
You will get an assignment which you will download from a page Sun gives you, this assignment is private and its very difficult that somebody have the same (I think they must have a hundred of different assignments, but I'm guessing).
The assignment is compound by a description and a sort of Case Use you must solve, as the real life assignments it has description, domain model, requirements, and Case Use and its possible they have some errors, your job as architect is to detect those and write it down in your assumptions, for example if you get an assignment to do a check in a system for a hotel and you see that the case of use says something like: "The customer could ask for the check" you could assume the check will be in dollars, in this way you will not have to do a currency conversion. Or you could find something like: "The cat eats the dog at breakfast", and you will say "What a hell?, I think this is wrong my assumption is somebody did a mistake in here and it must be 'the dog eats the cat...' "
You must read very carefully the assignment, go to the bathroom, take a shower and go back on it, read it again and try to be sure you understood all the requirements of the system, if you fail to detect a requirement you will fail the test. Use your imagination to figure out how the steps in the Case Use works and how will your system is going to address these.
You will need to provide Class Diagram, Component Diagram, Deployment Diagram and your assumption list, also you will need to provide the sequence or collaboration diagrams (this will not influence your score, but will be a good way to get the other diagrams). Also you will need to provide a list of the top three risks you detected and how you managed them.
While you are trying to figure out how to solve your problem keep in mind the following: Scalability, maintainability, reliability, availability, extensibility, performance, manageability, and security. These are the key points in the test, if your system architecture could lead to a performance problems then you will need to address that in your design.
Remember, Sun is asking you for the architectural design, not the detailed design, so keep in mind that to avoid any unnecessary detail. How do you know if your design is too detailed, I think you should be able to explain your design to your team in a 30 minutes meeting, if you went in too much detail the designers will not have any work to do.
The third part
Ok, this is the easy one, you will be asked for some of the decisions made in the previous step, how did you address the security, the scalability, etc. What is the tricky part in here?, take a look of all the questions before begin, when I took it I tried to answer the best I can, so I put all that comes to my mind, then when I moved to the next question... puff... they are asking for something I already answered in the previous question (and you don't have the copy/cut/paste option), so I needed to move back remove the unnecessary answer in the previous one and rewrite it in the next. The time flew and I only had 5 minutes to do a full review. So, go and read all the questions before begin.
If you have any further questions please let me know in the comments section, I will try to do another blog with those questions and answers.