Monday, February 11, 2013

Microsoft Certification Exam 70-481: Essentials of Developing Windows Store Apps using HTML5 and JavaScript

I am working toward the MCSD Windows Store Apps (Windows 8) certification, which is available in two flavors (JavaScript and XAML). Today I took and passed the second of three exams on the JavaScript track, 70-481: Essentials of Developing Windows Store Apps using HTML5 and JavaScript.

I'm not allowed to share details about the exam, of course, but I can share how I prepared for it. The first thing I'll say is that it is not an easy exam. I took it and narrowly missed passing a week ago, and on my re-take today I passed. So the first bit of advice is, be sure to get a Second Shot voucher from Prometric when you're signing up to take the exam - you might need it.

I chose the WinJS exam track because I've been deep on HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript for the last two years - my JavaScript skills are fresh and my XAML is a bit rusty. The first exam in the MCSD Windows Store Apps WinJS track is the same first exam of the MCSD Web Applications track, 70-480, which I'd already taken and blogged about. That's a convenient arrangement if you want to go for a "double major": a dual MCSD in Web Apps and Windows Store Apps. Here are the three exams in the MCSD Windows Store Apps WinJS track:

70-480: Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS
70-481: Essentials of Developing Windows Store Apps using HTML5 and JavaScript
70-482: Advanced Windows Store App Development using HTML5 and JavaScript

I think the main reason I found the exam difficult is that it was so comprehensive: there's an awful lot going on in Windows 8 and the exam covered a lot of territory. You can see the list of what's covered here in the Skills Measured section. Secondly, I think I faltered a bit the first time around on namespaces - I memorized them more solidly for the second time and I think that helped me better discern right answers from wrong ones.

Here's what I did to prepare for the exam:

Develop Windows 8 Apps
I've authored about 5 "real" Windows 8 apps, several of which have gone through the Windows Store process successfully. I think you need this hands-on experience in order to be prepared for the exam.

WinJS Samples
The WinJS samples are really valuable. There are many of them, - most of them short and to the point -- and they are a tremendous learning aid.

Read the documentation. Sure, some of the doc pages are dry or just list class details without much of an explanation - but there are also great conceptual pages.

I also found a lot of good information in blogs when I searched on various topics.

Walk the Skills Measured List
I went through the Skills Measured checklist and ensured I knew the basics about each skill listed.

Microsoft Virtual Academy
There are 8 hours or so of videos on Microsoft Virtual Academy to prep for this exam by Jeremy Foster and Michael Palermo - watch them. It's called the Developing Windows 8 Apps with HTML5 Jump Start (note: there's also a jump start course available for the first exam, 70-480).

• CodeShow
Jeremy Foster's CodeShow solution contains lots of great samples, all in one Visual Studio solution.

Well, there you have it. Next month I hope to summon the nerve to go for the Advanced exam and obtain my MCSD for Windows Store Apps.

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