Ben Nadel
On User Experience (UX) Design, JavaScript, ColdFusion, Node.js, Life, and Love.
I am the chief technical officer at InVision App, Inc - a prototyping and collaboration platform for designers, built by designers. I also rock out in JavaScript and ColdFusion 24x7.
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Ben Nadel at CFUNITED 2010 (Landsdown, VA) with: Ray Camden and Todd Sharp

Getting Certified In ColdFusion 8 Scares Me

By Ben Nadel on
Tags: ColdFusion

With ColdFusion 8 finally out, I have started to think about updating my ColdFusion MX7 Advanced developer status. But to be honest, it kind of scares me. I will admit that I studied fairly hard for the ColdFusion 7 certification test. I know there a lot of people out there who can just sit down and take these test no problem, but I am not one of them. My problem is that ColdFusion is so robust and so powerful that there are many features that I simply don't use on a day to day basis (if at all). There is no way that I can answer questions on those topics without studying hard core.

With ColdFusion 8, this problem becomes hugely magnified! I mean just look at the Image manipulation functionality or even something like CFPresentation. Heck, CFPresentation could probably be a certification test all on it's own. As much as I would love to get certified again for ColdFusion 8, I think that the sheer vastness of the CF8 feature set would prevent me from being able to pass (and if I did pass, certainly it would not be with Advanced status).

But maybe I am jumping the gun here. I mean, after all, ColdFusion 8 did just come out. I should probably have at least a year under my belt with full time, hands-on development before I should even consider upgrading. I was developing in ColdFusion 7 for about two years before I got certified for that. I should probably show CF8 the same respect.

Anyways, that's my little panic attack for the day :)



Reader Comments

I wonder if the certification exam for CF8 is going to be longer because of still wanting to cover all the content of CF7, but also cover new features. I also wonder whether I should amend my professional goal for this year (required by my employer) to take the CF7 exam since I would be immediately behind the curve. Then again, I wonder if the exam from Allaire CF Express is still available...it would be so easy...

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I foresee many a long night in the office again, studying. I shouldn't have thrown away all my blank postcards we got for flash cards!

Should i point out to everyone that on our first practice test you still passed? Or maybe that you got almost 100 on the final exam? Or should i keep that between me and you?

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I think I might actually bothered to get certified soon for my own sake. Been doing CF since '98 and it hasn't been required anywhere where I've ever worked.

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@Todd,

I highly recommend it cause it will definitely help to learn stuff you didn't know.

@Simon,

I barely passed on the first practice test :) Long nights at the office sound good to me, though.

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@ Ben, I did take the CF7 Practice test and I learned just how much I did / didn't know and made it a mission to start combing the docs again. Later, I took a brain bench test at the request of a recruiter and I passed it. I didn't take the offer from the recruiter, but it was nice to know that I passed. :)

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Next time, get onto CF beta early on. Then combine beta-testing new features with learing for upcoming certification test :)

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I failed my first try at getting CFMX certified a few years back. I thought "I've written ColdFusion for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, for the last year and a half, how can I fail?" I wanted to upgrade to CFMX advanced before 8 came out, guess I blew my chance. Ben, if someone like you, who is constantly blogging about the most obscure things in the language, is worried about passing, then I fear for the rest of us.

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I think the Flash folks are in the same boat. The technology has gotten so complex in the last few years it's scary to think about sitting for an exam that would cover all that is Flash.

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@Jamie,

Ha ha, thanks :) I know what you mean, though - I had the same mind set. But then you start taking the practice test and they ask you all about CFReporting, client variable storage, web service invokacation, CFObject vs. CFInvoke vs. CreateObject(), and all this other stuff, which isn't necessarily complicated, but might just be stuff you never used. Like, for instance, I use CreateObject() all the time, so why would I know how to use the CFObject tag? For the stuff that I do, they do the same thing. And CFReport - I simply have never used it. Client storage - don't use that either. The language is just so robust that I don't use it all :(

CF8 is compounding that even MORE! Scary!

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It's funny, I was just remembering the FAQ panel at the end of CFUnited 2007. One of the complaints was that the ColdFusion exam was too easy to pass and it didn't mean enough in the business world (because of this). I suspect that in CF8, this will no longer be a question. I suspect that with CF8, the only people who will be able to pass are those that study their asses off!

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There's two things that always bother me with these certifications..

First thing is that most of them (apparently also the CF exam) cover all the features..

I don't see why this is needed.. Its much more important you know your basics and know how to code secure, maintainable, scalable code..

As long as you know the feature exists, its not hard to research and apply it (its all syntax right?) I value people who know how to read documentation, not so much people with a dictionary knowledge of their programming language..

My second issue is.. never in my life has anybody asked if i was certified for anything.. so for me it seems more like a status symbol.

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Again it's always hard when a new version of software does come out. All i'd say is knuckle down and retune your skills to adapt to the new release of Cold Fusion. Don't be scared ;)

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I'm very skeptical about certification. I've known people with all sorts of certification who were useless programmers and most every really good programmer I've ever met hasn't had a single certification.

Almost all certifications are about your ability to cram and pass a test - nothing to do with whether you can actually apply that knowledge.

Even a language's designer cannot be expected to know everything about the language - Bjarne Stroustrup admitted C++ had surpassed his ability to remember it all in the mid-90's and we continued to add a bunch of stuff after that!

As an employer, I don't care about a candidate's certifications (in fact, if a candidate has lots of certifications, it puts me off!) - I care about the way they think about problems and whether or not they can imagine and / or research a good solution to a new problem.

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The thing that has always annoyed me about the exam, is because it is a closed book, multiple choose test. It is becomes nothing more than a memory game, whereby people who can recall the most functions/tags with their correct syntax are at a clear advantage. The fact that there are trick answers in the multiple choices only reinforces this.

To me, programming is a creative craft of problem solving. The ability to recall the exact language syntax and functionality is a helpful but non-essential part of the processes.

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Personally, I don't think think the certification is worth the bit of paper it's printer on, and the only reason I took the exam is because it's a requirement for Adobe Certified Instructor Status.

However, I seriously think they are going to have to re-evaulate not just the exam, but also the official ColdFusion courses.

The Fast Track Course is more like an intro to Dreamweaver, and the Advanced course is a jumbled mismatch of topics. They really teach you nothing (I'll probably get put up before the firing squad for saying that).

I think it's time someone at Adobe, whether it be the ColdFusion management team or a department dedicated to education and certification (does one exist?) re-examine all the courses and exams on offer.

Maybe there needs to be a greater breakdown of the courses and certifications on offer; take a look at what's on offer for both Java and .NET. Whilst I can't comment on those courses; never sat them, never will, they do seem to offer a much more focused direction.

http://www.sun.com/training/certification/java/index.xml
http://www.microsoft.com/learning/mcp/mcsd/requirementsdotnet.mspx

The ColdFusion material is; OK, pick that, that and that and we'll throw it all together and make a little coffee shop app... wooo.

You learn nothing about the language, and if you want to get specific on the features, even with the CF7 courses you don't touch any of the CF7 only features; no reporting, no document and printing, no event gateways.

When I'm teaching the classes I actually take in a whole load of real world examples and spend time on them with the students, and whilst I make sure I get through all the official material (other Adobe would not be happy) I make sure the students get the moneys worth.

Back to your point though. Unless there's a significant change in the way the CF certification works, don't bother with the exam. Seriously. 66 questions asking you if you know all the attributes for the cfchart tag is not worth your time or effort - that's why you have documentation.

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Almost all certifications are about your ability to cram and pass a test - nothing to do with whether you can actually apply that knowledge.

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While I cannot speak to the certification as a means to employment (as I never applied to a job after getting certified), I can say that there is something a bit personally satisfying about getting satisfying. Just like writing a blog post or finishing a video game or something, you can turn about be like, "Yeah, I just did that and I done did it good".

But more than that, studying for the certification is like being back in school, which is an environment that I tend to miss from time to time. It's nice to have some structured learning - so much of what I do is all over the place and it's nice to have a study guide and practice tests that force you to sit down and systematically go over the entire language. Whether or not you ever use some of the stuff, its probably good to have a general understanding of at least what is capable.

But at this point, it might just not be worth it. My brain is a bit maxed out as it is right now (at least that's how I feel sometimes) with the nitty gritty of the syntax details. I guess I will wait to see what Adobe and Brian Simmons do about it before I even worry about worrying about it.

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My last job, I got because I was CFMX certified. They didn't care about my $80k bachelor's degree, they liked the initiative shown in my $150 certification.

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"66 questions asking you if you know all the attributes for the cfchart tag is not worth your time or effort " Well put Andy. To me it was a ColdFusion trivia test, quizzing me on a lot of tags and functions I've never had occasion to use and probably never will.

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i personallly felt certification in coldfuson mx 7 was really helpfull to me
though we dont user most of the functionality in day to day coding but it helps us in some where some point in our carrier.

i learnt a lot while preparing for mx7 certification now eagerly waiting for cf8 certification.

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I would not worry - I will pass CF8 with advanced status right after exam is available without too much testing. did the same thing with CF7 and CF6, don't see why few extra tags in 8 are going to make this much harder to do. The exam is not very hard and passing it at a basic level should be a breeze.

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@Tom,

I am not so sure about that. While they may have added a "few extra tags", those tags are uber powerful and extensive. That could lead to a ton of miscellaneous questions about new features.

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Doing any certification is good. Not progressing would get us no wehre really. So anyone thinking of doing it do it!!

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Getting Certified In ColdFusion 8 Scares Me.....Why would it.
If your a beginner then you'll soon get the hang of things and be there in no time.

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The problem with these types of tests ( ie multiple choice ) is that they are usually about deceit. The general concept of multiple-choice questions is to provide many CLOSE answers and only ONE right answer. Question researchers intentionally look for ways to fool the person taking the test. To me that's not an environment where an honest evaluation of what a person is capable of is revealed.

That being said, back in the day when I got CFMX Certified I believe it helped a LOT in getting work/contracts. So of course there are benefits and as far as I know the tests have always been about the basics of CF and have never gone very far into esoteric tags/functions. I doubt one would fail of the basis of not knowing them alone.

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@Daniel,

I second your concerns about the concept of several "close" answers but only one right one. This is especially disconcerting if you have a question that covers a topic you have read about but never practiced.

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Getting certified means nothing more than that you hit the books and every employer I've ever interviewed with knew that: nothing more, nothing less. People who dismiss certification are missing the point: nobody said the test says a thing about your mastery over the subject - only that you had to have hit the books. The added bonus is that hitting the books means exposure to stuff you might not otherwise have a chance to explore. I might hire a developer who had no certification. But I definitely would not hire one who tried to justify not having one.

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Any news on certification for CF8? I put it in my performance review goals for this year, but haven't seen anything from Adobe.

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@Brian,

I have not heard of anything yet. All that I have heard is that they got rid of the "Advanced" certification. As far as I know, it's only Pass/Fail now (sweeet).

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Just as an fyi to those that subscribe to this thread (because Ben already posted about this), CF8 Exam Buster has been released at http://centrasoft.com. The product has 384 questions completely overhauled and designed/targeted/focused directly at what the Adobe ColdFusion 8 certification exam is looking for. The real exam is far from perfect, but at least you need not go it alone. End of plug. :)

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hi...

can someone pls drop me an email at serel.17@gmail.com... and tell me how can i register for coldfusion certification in INDIA.?

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I passed ColdFusion 8 certification exam last week with 90% score.

What you need to concentrate on is the reference docs on Adobe site, Ben Forta practice tests.

You really would need to perfect yourself on CFC, Exception handling. Make sure you know what tag attribute is used when and why.

All the very best to CF8 aspirants ..

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Hi,

Please give me the url link for ben forta practise test for cf8 certificaton.

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Hey Abhijit,
I did not find any CF8 practice exam links on Forta's site. It has the CF7 though.
So what you can do is - master yourself on CF7 and then you are only left with the additional tags, functions introduced in CF8.

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BUGGER BUGGER BUGGER !!
Why did I not read the comments here last week.
I trained my arse off to keep my advanced developer status - AND THERE IS NONE !!
96% and a week of my life wasted for nought !!
And the exam is ambiguous and just plain wrong in many places but I knew that from Ray's posts and seem to have dodged most the holes ..
Anyway for those whom still want a high score the drill is Forta's cf7 developers guide on safari then exambusters cfmx7 test suite (from last time)
read up on cf8 changes (again from Ben F but the big blue cf8 books on safari) then exambusters cf8 tests.
If you really just want to pass on cf8 certification - just get exambuster cf8 and hammer it until you get 90% average - you will easily get 80% plus in the actual exam.
Bring back advanced - this is too easy (and too wrong .. - I intended to scribble down the stupidest questions but went drinking in my frustration and forgot me - sorry guys ..)
Dan (Sydney Oz)

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Oops meant to say on the general subject of the value of certification.
1. By itself it's useless - Some years ago I was hired by a handsome Indian lead at a govt dept who got nearly 100% in the exam - and really couldn't solve the most obvious programming jobs. Yet she was my boss because she forked up the cash and hit the books.
2. I learn tonnes I didnt know each time I study for certification - some of which I actually use and some of which I share with other developers who apply it.
3. I have got gradually better at selecting effective programmers by posing common issues and seeing how they break them down into soluble solutions. Also giving them crappy code examples and seeing how they would fix or improve on it.
People have gaps thats why we have teams and that distributed intelligence know as google.
4. That said I am doing (MS and Java too) certification this time round to impress a potential employer whom thinks I might be rusty as I have been architecting mainly in the last few gigs - no point in explaining that designing is meta-programming .. (sigh)
Life is just one thing after another ...
dtm

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Unless you are using the full gamut of cftags then you will need to study for this exam (probably most). If you use snippets predominately rather than typing out your code then you could be in trouble if you don't remember the parameters of a certain tag...Ben Forta's study guide is great…also a great reference for beginners…Good Luck!

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"If you use snippets predominately rather than typing out your code then you could be in trouble if you don't remember the parameters of a certain tag"

This is exactly my problem with these certifications. We use IDEs for a reason: so that we don't have to waste cycles remembering all these attributes and we can, instead, get on with thinking about architecture and design.

I took one of the mock exams a few years back (and got about 85% I think?) and it was a ridiculous test of pure memory and had NOTHING to do with ability to actually write robust applications in an efficient and maintainable manner.

Everything I've heard from people who've taken the real exam has just confirmed my opinion.

I know there has been a lot of controversy about many of the Adobe (and previously Macromedia) certification exams on products - not just ColdFusion. As an employer, I don't pay any attention to certifications like these - they're worthless, in my opinion.

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@Sean Corfield,

Kindof agree - I got close to a perfect score but wouldnt have been suprised if I got 75% as most of the questions were ambiguous.

Guess in the end of the day you just talk to people and see if they respond like an experienced colleague would.

Call their referees and ask a few searching questions requiring details.

Then give them a week or two some support and examination of what they are doing.

Haven't had any real duds so far.

Hard to call. Probly will do cf9 and flex4 when available - just a personal test thing...

d

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NEWSFLASH !! (You heard it hear first !!)

Advanced ColdFusion Dev Cert continues - I did mid 90's in the cf8 exam and won two certificates in Adobe Certified site - cf8 dev and cf8 advanced cert and the pdf they emailed me was for a cf8 advanced developer where a friend whom did 80 has the vanilla version.

So you score higher than something ? (still 85%?) you get an advanced cert is seems.

Fresh on Ben Nadel net to you ..

Dan

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@Sean,

Yeah, it is completely about memory. In fact, when I studied for the CF7 exam, I basically just kept doing the practice tests until I remembered the answer to every single question. Because the practice tests and the real tests are close enough, passing was a non-issue.

Of course, two days later, could I remember half of the stuff about Report Builder and CFChart? Not a chance (half would be kind estimate).

This begs the question, though, how does one ever get certified in a language? Is that even possible? Does anyone know how this works in other languages?

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@Ben Nadel,

I'm trying to think of any certifications that go with languages. I suspect there may be certifications for some Microsoft languages - but even then I suspect they are really testing your knowledge of Microsoft tools and technologies as much as your knowledge of the language itself (and with Microsoft, those go pretty much hand-in-hand).

Until I started working with CFML in 2001, I'd never encountered language-based certifications that I can remember.

The more I hear about ColdFusion certification (as opposed to CFML certification), the more it seems to test knowledge / memory of a bunch of specific tags and attributes that 90% of developers don't use in their day-to-day work - rather than testing any ability to program.

Part of the problem is that testing ability to program - in an exam-based format - is nigh on impossible since the exam format itself is not anywhere close to your normal programming environment. It's why I dislike "programming tests" in interviews - they almost never test your ability to program.

I always have cfquickdocs open in a browser because it's pointless (to me) to waste neurons on memorizing all this crap when I could put those neurons to use solving problems instead!

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Looking back through this thread I see Andy Allen posted links to Sun's Java certification (and Microsoft's .NET stuff). Both test knowledge of infrastructure / technology, rather than the language itself and / or your ability to solve problems...

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@Sean,

I completely agree with you. A lot of stuff that I use, I simply *know* that it exists, and then I look it up when I need to implement.

The idea of certification beyond language is foreign to me, I'm not even sure what it entails. I'll look up the Java stuff just to get a sense of what kind test those are.

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I am going to be ColdFusion certified this calendar year of 2012, says my manager at my new job. I just passed 90 day review. (Later I will need a technical Bachelor's too- my existing degrees are non-technical.)

Let me see if I have the concept of the certification test straight. It is kind of like the SAT, ACT, or GRE, similar concept, but dedicated in this case to ColdFusion 9. You can prepare yourself with a range of courses, books, materials, etc. Some are so good that they end up teaching you ColdFusion 9. (It is possible that the corporation might cover the cost.)

If I understand certification correctly, what preparation methods (books or schools/online) would developers who have passed the exam recommend?

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Yes, certification scares me a little, too. Fear is healthy it makes you work harder, take it seriously. This is your career, this is not a game. But I have done so much already when I have set my mind to it, and decided there was no going back.

Each new project in ColdFusion scares me a little. But most of the time I believe I can do it, and so far 14 out of 16 times I did. Suffice it to say you have to believe you can walk on water before you actually do, or you will drown.

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