Getting to grips with Alfresco certification
When you come to Alfresco for the first time you quickly realize that the Alfresco product suite is sophisticated and powerful. Implementing projects with Alfresco, whether document management, web content management or records management is a job for professionals. In the early days, every new person coming to Alfresco was an innovator and expert, helping the product grow and establishing a reputation both for themselves and the product.
Over the years at Alfresco training, we have taught over 2,500 people, yet more people have trained themselves by reading the documentation, using the product and exploring the vast amount of material available in books, blogs and wikis.
As the pool of Alfresco expertise grows, it becomes more difficult for the experts to differentiate their competency from those developers and administrators, who may have a good industry track record but who are new to the Alfresco platform. Because of this, in 2010 we began looking at developing an accreditation program that would allow individuals to prove their competency on the Alfresco platform through a series of tests. Our objective was clear, we wanted to allow bona fide experts in Alfresco to showcase their competency to their peers and their employers, whilst paving the way for a professional accreditation in the product.
These objectives meant that we did not simply want to create a certification exam that would merely test how well someone listened in a training class. We wanted the tests to be more wide-ranging and really gauge comprehension, application and competency. We started out with a self-test which we called the Alfresco Recognized Developer exam, to trial various scenarios, gather data about profiles and scoring, and gain feedback. In October 2011, in conjunction with our partner PearsonVue, we launched our certification program, with two exams: the Alfresco Certified Engineer and the Alfresco Certified Administrator.
Since launching the exams, a number of questions about the tests have repeatedly come up and so I wanted to take the opportunity in my blog to answer these questions and explain a little bit more about the exams.
Certification and training are linked, but distinct, in that there is no requirement to complete any formal training, and training is not a pre-requisite to taking an exam. However, you should ensure that your knowledge corresponds to what you would learn if you attended formal training. Having said that, there is no direct one-to-one correlation between training and certification. A common question we hear is “do you have a course I can take which will allow me to pass certification straight away?” The simple answer is no, because we are testing competency, we are looking for people to have mastered the product over time, gaining practical knowledge along the way.
You will also find that the scope of certification is both broader and deeper than the training we offer for exactly the same reasons.
A learning program
Another common question is “what revision should I do before I attempt certification?” Everyone is different and the learning path that you embark on will depend on your background, job role, time and goals. One thing you can be sure of is that to pass the exams you will need to use Alfresco and develop the hands-on, real-world skills which will be required on an Alfresco project.
Given that there might be different approaches, one potential training pathway to passing the ACE certification might be the following:
Complete some basic training, I’ve suggested some courses and provided links to the course descriptions so you can see which topics are covered:
- Alfresco Fundamentals Course (this is available both as eLearning and instructor led training)
- Alfresco Web Scripts Course
- Alfresco Share Configuration Course
- API Development Training Course (this course is now deprecated but we have made the material available for you)
- Alfresco Workflow (this is also deprecated with material available for download)
For partners we provide a fast track for the majority of these through our Partner Technical Bootcamp program.
In addition to these you will also want to make sure that you have the background knowledge required to understand and use Alfresco technology, for example developing applications in Java plus a working knowledge of XML and Spring. There are a myriad of courses you can take in these subjects to bring your experience level up and you should consider these before taking Alfresco training if you feel that you are not fully conversant in these topics. If you simply want to review, revise and refresh then there are online tutorials in Java, Spring and indeed XML.
You will also want to ensure that you read-around the more advanced areas. Looking at the ACE blueprint you should explore the more advanced topics like Share Customization and Repository Customization. For these you will want to actually complete a development project. Download the SDK and FDK to explore the examples provided, then make sure that you have looked at the Alfresco Add-Ons and Share Extras site and developed your own dashlet.
Alfresco documentation is useful, up-to-date and extensive and you can find it at docs.alfresco.com. At docs.alfresco.com it is easy to download printer friendly PDFs which you can then read on your iPad or Kindle. If you find the documentation too formal and would prefer complete real-world examples, you may want to invest in some of the great books which have been written about Alfresco, or have a read of the blogs and wikis on our Community site, which show practical examples of implementing Alfresco. A good place to start is Jeff Pott’s blog. Jeff is our Chief Community Officer and has been using Alfresco for many years.
In my next blog I’ll share a longer list of resources and take a look at some sample questions.
Hope to see you in class.
Global Training Director