Monday 4 April 2011

Top 5 tips for passing the certified developer (SP11) exam

I recently passed the certified developer (SP11) exam (hence the shiny new icon on the right). The test covers a variety of material relating how to build applications using the platform. If you are preparing for the exam, here are my top 5 tips for successfully passing.
  1. This is not a coding exam

    The purpose of the developers exam is to measure how effectively you can describe how to use the various aspects of the platform to construct applications, not to prove how well you can code Visualforce pages or Apex classes. It is more important to be able to define when to use these tools, rather than how.

  2. Go back to basics

    If like me, you have been working primarily on providing specific customization to applications for a while, it is a good idea to re-reference all the components available on the platform. Part of my preparation for the exam included building the recruitment application as described in Fundamentals, which really helped to re-enforce how to use every aspect of the platform.  

  3. Learn to share

    A substantial proportion of the questions in the test are centered around how to enable and restrict access to objects and records. Learn the different methods of sharing and appreciate in what kind of scenarios these should be implemented. You should understand the whole range, from object level CRUD permissions using profiles to sharing records using public groups and manual rules. Also, in a similar vein, you should be aware of the relationship that page layouts have with record sharing.

  4. Know the optional extras

    Aside from the standard platform functionality, there are several additional features that can be included in an organization by contacting Salesforce. Examples of such features are encrypted fields to encrypt data shown to particular users and enabling the use of multiple currencies. Fortunately, all you need to know about these extras is included in the Study Guide.

  5. A report is more than just a table of data

    The reporting tool included on the platform is highly customizable, and you will need to be aware of how you can adapt reports to a specific purpose. It is essential to learn the various report types, and given a situation which one you would use. The same is also true of dashboard components, understand what each is used for and recognize when it is appropriate to use them. When revising the use of reports, rather than just read, I think the best approach is to get hands on. If you have a developer force account, construct several reports and dashboards and really experiment with the various ways of presenting data to users. 

I wish you the best of luck!