Second Drupal core committer passes the Acquia Certified Developer exam

I finally stopped putting it off and took the opportunity to test myself on the Acquia Certified Developer exam. To be honest I put it off for quite long. As a household name in the community I had fears it will prove I am not good enough and funnily enough, I did worst on back end development (ooops!) and 10% better on site building. My overall result is actually the same as Angie Byron at 85%. I'm flawless with fundamental web concepts at least. Ha!

As a computer science major who transferred into more of a mix of development, leadership, events and content production, I don't have much of an experience with tech certification exams. My only encounter was with the CIW certifications 13 or so years ago, which I took back in the day to be able to teach the CIW courses at a local private school. Judging from that experience and common wisdom, I expected paperbook style questions where I need to know the order and name of arguments and options on l() as well recite row styles of views and available options of date fields. The reality cannot be farther from that.

While there were one or two questions that actually required knowing Drupal API functions, most were very practical site building questions where you put yourself in the shoes of the architect / site builder and need to figure out a solution ideal for the eventual site users and content producers. I really liked the site builder questions because most are nudging you to best practices to use Drupal's features to their fullest. They also line up all the wrong things that Drupal beginners may do including client side workarounds to server problems and code in blocks. I can imagine how the vast experience of the Acquia support group contributed to "popular" wrong answers.

The code questions are not always ideally written (vs. Drupal's code style) so if you are really picky about your code style then that may make it a bit harder to process them. It is true, that not using Drupal's code style helps the questions make the answers a little bit harder to figure out, so you get one more twist and will not be able to instinctively pick the right answer. I think it would still be valuable for the code examples to conform more to the code style expected in Drupal.

Overall I found that the site building, frontend and backend questions covered a very good spectrum of Drupal 7. In particular I was pleased to find performance and security questions on different levels, which is great validation that you are making the right choices on both the code and the configuration of your site to ensure best security.

In most bigger projects I was involved with, I worked with other professionals, and therefore I encountered some siloing of different skills. I worked little with Javascript or templates even on sites I could put on my resume. As someone who interviewed candidates before, the listing of prior references is not enough for me to tell if the person had a wide or limited involvement in the projects. The Acquia Certified Developer exam tests people on a wide range of skills and helps prove more rounded capabilities. It also helped me see where some of my shortcomings are. I think it may be valuable to take the exam for that result itself.

90 minutes sounds like plenty of time for the test and I hoped to finish in around an hour but it took 83 minutes nonetheless. Not sure it is because one would use all the time available to make sure they pick the right answers, or it just takes that much time anyway. The question review tool was really great to get back to some items and it would even be better to be able to look at which questions I did wrong. I can see how having that opportunity would let people spread a study-book for the exam, which would not help reach the original goals. So I am left with a feeling of which frontend areas I need to develop and wondering which of my back end answers may have been wrong.

Disclosure: I am an Acquia employee and Acquia sponsored me to take the exam. As Angie wrote in her rightly famous post about it, Acquia employees can take the Acquia certifications for free (and yes, we are still hiring!).

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