With the official release of the Zend Certified Engineer (ZCE) programme for 5.3 I thought I’d give my quick impression of what I thought of the exam.
A little background on myself: I was first introduced to PHP about 7 years ago and have worked professionally in PHP since 2006. I currently work for an exciting start-up called Brightpearl based in Bristol, UK, producing integrated CRM, accountancy, and ecommerce software. I haven’t previously obtained any of the previous ZCE qualifications. I currently develop in the 5.2.X series and haven’t really used any of the specific 5.3 features (I’m waiting for Zend Framework 2 and Doctrine 2) in my development projects.
I got involved in the ZCE 5.3 beta programme by filling in the survey advertised online. I took the exam at a Pearson Vue examination centre at the beginning of August 2010, it was a 4-6 week wait for the results.
In preparation for the exam I had previously purchased and read Php|architect’s Zend PHP 5 Certification Study Guide, I also purchased a set of 10 vouchers for the PHP Architect’s practice system. I took an initial test exam to get a baseline for my knowledge. I recorded the sessions using Istanbul on my machine and made notes as I progressed.
I passed my first test but, unsurprisingly, I could do better at streams and XML/DOM parsing (since I don’t use these very often, well directly anyhow). I had two weeks until my exam so I spent 10 evenings looking through the PHP manual and taking another 4 test exams in the progress. Each evening I read back over my notes.
As always my favourite tool for testing/playing with PHP is the command line interface (CLI) and I used it to try many, many times during these 10 days. The PHP architect exams got a little repetitive but did throw up the odd different question now and again. I only used half of the practice tests in the end.
The exam itself follows the description of the previous exams. I was slightly worried about questions covering the new 5.3 features but this was unfounded, in fact looking at it the new PHP 5.3 features aren’t really difficult to understand and in some cases actually work more like you’d expect PHP to behave (for example late static binding).
The exam definitely reflects PHP’s maturing as an object orientated language, and it was a good mix of knowledge and problem solving. Obviously I can’t go into information on the actual questions after signing a disclaimer at the exam. It was definitely taxing but just at the right level I felt.
Four weeks later I was very apprehensive to get the results. I’d convinced myself that I’d failed the exam. The result didn’t turn up on the fourth week and I completely forgot. The very next week whilst checking my email during a few beers the email came through, I had to read it a couple of times to check and then some celebrating ensued.
I have proudly included the ZCE 5.3 badge in the sidebar of this blog and linked to my Zend Yellow Pages listing.
As for the exam, whilst it doesn’t make you a better developer it does force you to gain a broader range of knowledge in the language, which can’t hurt any PHP developer. If you haven’t used PHP 5.3 before and have some apprehension I suggest you take a look at Juozas’ blog post.
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