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Monday, November 19, 2007

Microsoft Certification and Mobile Web Development in Visual Studio 2008

I have been looking to get myself Microsoft certified, because for some reason I've gone quite a few years without getting it.  Sure, I don't put too much merit in certifications achieved via written testing, but I figure it'd be nice to be able to list those acronyms on my resume...  So, I got myself a book or two, looked around on Microsoft's certification site, which looks really nice - and has a whole lot of things you can buy - but doesn't really give me straight answers to what I'm looking for.  Despite that, I figure out that what I'm looking to get (at least for starters) is the MCTS, or Microsoft Certificated Technology Specialist.  Specially, Technology Specialist: .NET Framework 2.0 Web Applications.

Eventually I figure out how to get the site to give me a free "Skills Assessment" (which is a whole lot different than a "practice test", unfortunately).  After 15 minutes or so, it tells me I need to work on my Mobile Apps skills.  I've got one thing to say to that: WTF?  I haven't yet met a developer who has ever done development using Mobile Apps (at least not that I'm aware of), nor have I encountered a company who listed mobile accessibility as one its top priorities, so I'm left wondering why practically one third of the questions on the skills assessment are concerning Mobile Web Applications.  It seems incredibly asinine to me, but I accept the fact that I've got to go through some B.S. in order to get through this process, so I kick up my newly-(re)installed Visual Studio 2008 and create a new Mobile Web Application..... or not.  Wait... what??  There is no Mobile Web Application project template anymore?  Ok....  So, I'll just create a regular ol' Web Application project - done that plenty of times.  Ok, great - project created; now I just add a new Mobile Web For---.....  W. T. F. 

It seems that Mobile Web Development is so important to Microsoft that they completely removed any of the templates to help create it. 

Alright, I've tried doing everything on my own - now it's time to get some help.  So, I head on over to for some answers.  First observation: nothing to be found on the home page concerning mobile stuff...  So, I switch to the "Get Started" tab, where I see a whole bunch of (awesome) videos, addressing every other topic on the certification exam except mobile development!  Ok....  so I try the next tab, "Learn" - it's gotta be here... NOPE!  Not one mention of it...  Finally, I do a site-wide search for "mobile" and come up with  Here are a few interesting tidbits I noticed surfing around the site:

  • I noticed phrases such as "The ASP.NET mobile controls [...] extend the power of the .NET Framework and Visual Studio"; that's right - extend the .NET Framework!
  • If you read the roadmap (as of the writing of this entry) it talks about how "ASP.NET 2.0 will" and "0-3 months after the release of ASP.NET 2.0...".  WHAT!?  Considering we're on the verge of releasing .NET 3.5, I'm sure you're aware how long ASP.NET 2.0 has been released...
  • The Web Matrix General Discussions forum (a tool only for .NET 1.x which I'd never even heard of, apparently the predecessor to VS2k5 Express) - currently has (as of the time of this writing) more threads than the Mobile and Handheld Devices forum: 2,238 and 2,235, respectively.

I'm left wondering what the heck is going on here - why are one third of the questions on the skills assessment for the certification mobile-centric, yet it doesn't seem like Microsoft really even cares about the technology, nor is it high on the list of most companies??  Obviously, I understand, accept, and respect what the growth of the Internet and usage of mobile devices will bring and I plan to model my on-going learning accordingly... but, that's not my point.  My point is that Microsoft Certification is supposed to (or at least should) indicate that I know what I say I know.  In Microsoft's words: "it's how they know you know".  My point is that I think it should stick to certifying what most companies are looking for...  not what Microsoft wants me to know.

This post - although somewhat cathartic - was not meant to be a rant (honestly!), but more-so a cry for change (and/or help, however you want to view it).  Who comes up with this crap?  How are these certification exams actually created?  Why do I have to waste my time learning stuff I will probably never use?  Whose agenda is dictating what we are expected to know in order to become "certified professionals"?  Because it certainly isn't inline with reality; at least not from what I can tell.  What do you think?


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