Thursday, 14 October 2010

Top 10 Tips for Passing the Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Exams

Joel Jeffery of JFDI Phoenix, an instructor at Firebrand Training, gives the rundown of his top ten tips for passing the Microsoft SharePoint 2010 exams. These will prove invaluable whether you are a SharePoint Administrator (exams 70-667 and 70-668), or a SharePoint Developer (exams 70-573 and 70-576).

The exam syllabus states that three months of product experience is required before sitting the MCTS exams, and up to two years for the MCITP and MCPD exams. You can complement this experience with my top ten tips:

1. Pace yourself. You have a limited amount of time and a lot of questions to answer. Give yourself a time limit per question – and stick to it. Keep track of the time remaining, which is displayed on-screen.

2. Read the question. It sounds obvious, but read the question thoroughly. Watch out if you like taking notes: don’t use all your exam time writing them down!

3. Do you know the answer? Another one that may sound obvious. If you have checked the whole question, and you are certain that you know the answer - select the answer and move on.

4. Leave no question unanswered. There is no “negative” marking in Microsoft exams. You only accumulate points for correct answers; no additional marks are deducted for incorrect choices.

5. Don’t change your mind. If you choose to review your choices at the end (and this is generally a good idea) do not be tempted to change your answer unless you are sure you got it wrong.

6. Look out for clues in later questions. Your exam can be like a logic puzzle. Sometimes you can find two or three questions spread over the course of an exam that, when read together, can only have one logical combination of correct answers.

7. Eliminate the stupid choices. The quality of Microsoft exams has improved much over the last few years. These days, all choices you will be presented with must be viable areas of SharePoint 2010’s object model or platform. However, there are usually still one or two obviously incorrect choices that you can eliminate with ease.

8. Look out for trick questions. Sometimes Microsoft puts in choices that are more applicable to a previous version of a product or technology, but which would not work on the new platform.

9. Avoid overly complex answers. Try and ask yourself “If I were to design an API or command line interface, how should I do it?” Often the most cumbersome-looking choices are incorrect. Beware though. Sometimes things are just difficult to do.

10. Don’t forget everything you already know about IT! You walk in to the exam room with potentially many years’ experience as a developer or IT Professional. Keep calm and use your real-world skills.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Guest blogger: SharePoint 2010 Developer Courses and Business Intelligence

All this week we will be featuring posts from guest blogger Joel Jeffery. Joel is a Firebrand Training instructor, who is currently developing courseware for our brand new SharePoint 2010 Configuring / Administrator and SharePoint 2010 Developer courses...

This is definitely an exciting time for SharePoint 2007 (MOSS and WSS 3.0) developers who are looking to acquire new skills. In this post I will be looking at SharePoint 2010 Developer Courses and Business Intelligence.

The Microsoft SharePoint 2010 platform has really been developed well. In the other three video blogs, I talked about some of the most impressive SharePoint 2010 features:
But there really is so much more for the SharePoint 2010 Developer to sink their teeth into:
  • Client Object Model (for .NET, Sliverlight and JavaScript)
  • LINQ to SharePoint
  • SharePoint Designer 2010 and Visio 2010 Integration
  • Claims Based Security
  • Visual Studio 2010 SharePoint Projects and Project Items
  • SharePoint Powershell Integration
  • Lists and Libraries Enhancements
  • Solution and Feature Lifecycle with the Versioning and Upgrade Framework
  • InfoPath 2010 Forms
  • Office Web Access
  • Branding Improvements
  • Enterprise Content Management Improvements, Taxonomies
  • Search Improvements
  • Excel Services, PerformancePoint Services, PowerPivot for SharePoint
  • Access Services
To conclude my stint as the Firebrand Training Blog guest blogger, I’ve created a video overview of the new Business Intelligence features in SharePoint 2010. This also includes a look at: the Business Intelligence Center definition, Excel Web Access and a sneak peek at the REST API for Excel Services.



Thursday, 22 July 2010

Guest blogger: SharePoint 2010 Certification

All this week we will be featuring posts from guest blogger Joel Jeffery. Joel is a Firebrand Training instructor, who is currently developing courseware for our brand new SharePoint 2010 Configuring / Administrator and SharePoint Developer courses...

I’ve just read a really interesting blog post about Microsoft’s approach in bringing SharePoint to market, and I felt compelled to share my views on the subject.

SharePoint Matures

It occurs to me that SharePoint has taken a while to mature - and it certainly has done just that. The first versions of the technology stack didn’t have much in the way of targeted Developer or IT Pro learning.

Actually, for WSS 3.0 and SharePoint 2007, the only official Microsoft courses were for the IT Pro community (MOCs 5060 and 5061). I'm not saying that Microsoft left things up to the community, but that SharePoint was a somewhat niche product (compared to
Microsoft’s heavy-weight market share). Microsoft couldn’t deliver the support and training to all of the groups that needed it, while keeping it cost-effective.

The Courseware Library

However, Microsoft did make use of the already-growing Microsoft Courseware Library. This allows 3rd party training providers of sufficient quality to gain a Microsoft seal of approval.

Thanks to this, there have been some great training courses:
  • SharePoint 2007 Advanced Development
  • SharePoint 2007 Business Intelligence
  • SharePoint 2007 Branding and Content Management
  • SharePoint End Users and Information Workers
You need to be a Microsoft Certified Trainer (a MCT like me!) to deliver these courses. Microsoft leaves a space for Microsoft partners to fill. Big partners like Firebrand Training, and not-so-big partners like JFDI Phoenix (my company!)

SharePoint Certification


SharePoint 2010 certification has evolved:

  • For a SharePoint Administrator or SharePoint Developer, the certifications include MCITP and MCPD certification respectively. What an improvement on the four MCTS certifications we had for SharePoint 2007!
  • Microsoft is releasing MOCs for both Administrators and Developers! Look out for MOC 10175 and MOC 10232 (for Developers), and 10174 and 10231 (for IT Professionals).
  • If you have the MCITP and MCPD certifications for SharePoint, you could potentially move onto the SharePoint Certified Master certification. This normally takes three weeks and doesn't come cheap. You also need to pass a CV screen and interview before gaining a place on a course - which currently only runs in the USA.
  • STOP PRESS! It appears that there may be Information Worker training coming soon!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Guest blogger and video: Workflow in SharePoint 2010

All this week we will be featuring posts from guest blogger Joel Jeffery. Joel is a Firebrand Training instructor, who is currently developing courseware for our brand new SharePoint 2010 Configuring / Administrator and Developer courses...

A couple of months ago I presented at the Microsoft Architect Insight Conference 2010 in London.
Thanks to everybody who came along! The first session was based on my SharePoint 2010 BCS podcast.

The second was about Workflow in SharePoint 2010, looking at the full story from business analyst, through to designer and developer. I looked at how each of these job roles can use Visio 2010, SharePoint Designer 2010 and Visual Studio 2010 to play a part in the overall process of creating a workflow.

You can learn more about this in my video below:



P.s. All of my podcasts can be found on iTunes – search for “joelblogs tv” and you’ll find me! :o )

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Guest blogger and video: SharePoint 2010 Business Connectivity Services and Offline Synchronisation

All this week we will be featuring posts from guest blogger Joel Jeffery. Joel is a Firebrand Training instructor, who is currently developing courseware for our brand new SharePoint 2010 Configuring / Administrator and Developer courses...

This post and video is all about Business Connectivity Services, which is the technology previously known as the Business Data Catalog (BDC).

The BDC in SharePoint 2007 was cool. It allowed us to create read-only forms from existing line of business, or back-end, systems - and fast. It also allowed us to index and search data in these back-end systems.

In the video I show how easy it is to work with SharePoint 2010 Business Connectivity Services. We’ll use SharePoint Designer 2010 to hook up with the Northwind database – and load a SQL table of contacts into SharePoint.

I also demonstrate how SharePoint does the hard work in creating not just read-only, but all the CRUD
(create, retrieve, update, delete) operations. It also creates InfoPath and browser forms for us, without the need to write any code. Finally, I look at the offline functionality of the BCS and SharePoint workspace, including the beauty of conflict resolution.



Monday, 19 July 2010

Guest blogger and video: SharePoint 2010 Sandbox Solutions

All this week we will be featuring posts from guest blogger Joel Jeffery. Joel is a Firebrand Training instructor, who is currently developing courseware for our brand new SharePoint 2010 Configuring / Administrator and Developer courses...

At the beginning of the year, it was a pleasure to teach SharePoint 2010 to an audience of developers for Microsoft during their Ignite event in Dublin.

One of the best features of the new development platform is Sandbox Solutions and the User Code Service. This allows developers to write code that is packaged up as a SharePoint .WSP solution, and deploy it at site collection level in a security sandbox. This feature is aimed at hosted and multi-tenant SharePoint users, and those that are more security conscious.

In the video below, I explain how developers can create a simple Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Sandbox Solution in Visual Studio 2010. I show what works and what doesn’t, and also how to write a custom validator for other developers’ solutions.