Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Oracle Certified Enterprise Architect - JEE 6 refresh update

The JEE 6 SCEA exam / certification

Following on from my earlier post requesting input into my next post, here's an often-requested update: what's happening with the Oracle Certified Master, Java EE 5 Enterprise Architect exam / certification update to JEE 6 standard?

In a nutshell, here's where it is (covering each of the three parts in turn):

Parts two and three of the exam (the practical elements) will remain very similar to how they operate today - these elements test your ability to design and document (part two) a solution to a well-defined business problem using the JEE platform and then challenge you (part three) to self-critique and justify key design decisions taken, especially on how non-functional requirements will be adequately satisfied. Parts two and three are pretty much independent of the current JEE revision, because the candidate is given a good degree of latitude in how you use JEE to solve the problem. Were you to use J2EE 1.4 features let's say, then the examiner is going to question the logic of that decision closely, but that's about it. Writing Ruby code and then having it compile to Java bytecodes at runtime using JRuby is also not recommended (don't laugh, someone did ask..)!

Part one of the exam (the multiple-choice exam) **will** change for JEE 6 - it has to because part one is more tightly coupled to a specific JEE revision - currently JEE 5 (with ~5% of J2EE 1.4 content).

The last time we revised part one, ~ten architects got together in Broomfield, CO for a week to design and critique the corpus of questions used. After that, Sun Microsystems (as they were then), brought in some external testing folks to benchmark the exam and to critique the overall marking strategy we intended to employ. That was an intense week and overall a fairly involved process, because you want to write difficult, tricky questions that will challenge an architect but at the same time, be fair. Part one of the architect exam is also not allowed to test your ability to memorize APIs or specifications - that is the primary task for the lower certifications. You very quickly find that a lot of difficult / tricky questions in JEE revolve around the APIs and specifications!

I think with the benefit of hindsight we erred on the side of fairness over toughness. I think we'll look to toughen up the questions for JEE 6.

I don't expect Oracle to reconvene the team of architects to do this refresh - the last refresh of the exam was a major refresh whereas we would consider this refresh to be more minor. Therefore the time taken to update should be shorter. Once the part one refresh is scheduled in, I'll post again on this topic. For now, the JEE 5 architect exam remains the most current and up to date architect exam you can take.