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Passed 142 with 96%

Kris Lightsey
Greenhorn

Joined: Feb 03, 2005
Posts: 25
The test was quite reasonable - not too many tricky questions. They were very straightforward. I bought the recommended study books listed the IBM website (XML in a Nutshell, 3rd ed., XSLT Cookbook), but did not use the XSLT Cookbook much (mostly for recursion examples.) The O'Reilly Nutshell book (ISBN: 0-596-00764-7) was very good, but it did not cover everything needed in the Objectives (http://www-03.ibm.com/certify/tests/obj142.shtml). I found myself going back to the book IBM recommended for 141 - "Professional XML 2nd Edition", Wrox Press (ISBN: 1861005059).

I needed extra help with XSLT, so I used "Xslt" by Doug Tidwell (ISBN-10: 0596000537). This book has some MAJOR errors -- not just typos, I mean conceptual errors. If you use the errata for the book which is easily accessible on the web (the unconfirmed errata is the one that has the most relevant information) you can use the book. It has very clear introductory-level discussions of how XSLT works. This in combination with the Wrox Press XSLT book (I used the 2001 2nd edition ISBN-10: 0764543814) and the "XML in a Nutshell" book helped me get reasonably good at transforms.

I would say the difficult thing about the test is just the vast amount of material covered. There are a LOT of specifications covered in this test! One needs to know XSLT recursion. There are some good articles on the IBM website for that. Apparently it is considered gauche to use iterative solutions for some of these problems, and XSLT really does lend itself to recursive solutions. Anyway, what I do is to take the template that is using recursion and rewrite it using pseudocode or in some language that looks normal. Template code looks pretty weird, I think. So it is much easier to figure it out if you rewrite the code in a more standard, procedural language.

It is also good to know the difference between SAX and DOM and situations in which they'd be best used. Several questions will test your knowledge of these differences.

Architecture questions require a basic understanding of the technologies along with plain common sense. Stuff like where it is best to perform certain processes - serverside or clientside.

I will say that a big disappointment for me was the Whizlabs practice tests. They were absolutely AWFUL! I found mistakes and they didn't even answer my emails. The English is bad -- not just grammatical errors (yes there were plenty of those), but just bad writing in general. The design of the questions was pathetic. The real exam questions were nothing like the Whizlab questions. I wish I could have gotten my money back, because it was an exercise in frustration just trying to use the lousy thing. The real exam questions were very clear, with no extraneous information in them AT ALL. The Whizlabs questions, on the other hand, had a bunch of useless garbage that was irrelevant to the question. Frequently the correct answer was buried in some implied assertion that wasn't even clearly stated. You had to figure out what the hell they were trying to say by parsing these convoluted questions, eliminating all the useless data, and even then half the time it was hard to figure out what they were really asking. The real exam questions are not at all like this, thankfully. In all fairness, I've not seen other Whizlab tests so I don't know if they are as bad as this one, but I'd save my money if I had to do it again. What a waste of time and money.

I would cover the objectives listed on the IBM site. They really do cover what they say they will in that list.

Good luck!
Shapra Benglur
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 12, 2006
Posts: 32
Congratulations, Kris!

With the large amount of material to cover and an excessive amount of allocation to transformations (29%)in the objectives, it is hard to plan the preparation.

If you dont mind me asking, I have two questions:

1. Did you find the number of questions roughly along the % mentioned in the objectives?

Architecture (19%)
Information Modeling (22%)
XML Processing (22%)
Transformations (29%)
Testing & tuning (8%)

2. Did you use/find useful the 5 part prep series that IBM provides?

Thanks
Cameron Wallace McKenzie
author and cow tipper
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Aug 26, 2006
Posts: 4968
    
    1

Congratulations.

That certification really, really, really looks good on a resume. Start negotiating that raise right now!

-Cameron McKenzie
Kris Lightsey
Greenhorn

Joined: Feb 03, 2005
Posts: 25
Originally posted by Shapra Benglur:
Congratulations, Kris!

With the large amount of material to cover and an excessive amount of allocation to transformations (29%)in the objectives, it is hard to plan the preparation.

If you dont mind me asking, I have two questions:

1. Did you find the number of questions roughly along the % mentioned in the objectives?

Architecture (19%)
Information Modeling (22%)
XML Processing (22%)
Transformations (29%)
Testing & tuning (8%)

2. Did you use/find useful the 5 part prep series that IBM provides?

Thanks


Thanks, Shapra,
Yes, that was the breakdown they printed out on my examination score report. I'm not sure which 5 part prep series you mean, so I can't say much about that resource. I would look at the objectives and find books/web material and do searches for information on each topic. I spent time perusing IBM's articles on XML. Also, I've worked with it on the job and did a Master's project on it for my Computer Science MS degree. So I had some background, but it was a bit outdated. A lot has changed since I was working with it, so it was a really good learning experience for me.

Thanks again for the positive feedback!
--Kris
Kris Lightsey
Greenhorn

Joined: Feb 03, 2005
Posts: 25
Originally posted by Cameron W. McKenzie:
Congratulations.

That certification really, really, really looks good on a resume. Start negotiating that raise right now!

-Cameron McKenzie


Thanks, Cameron! I'm working on that promotion right now -- maybe it will help!
javascript: x()
Smile

--Kris

Shapra Benglur
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 12, 2006
Posts: 32
Kris,
Here's the 5 part series I referred to:

http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/views/xml/libraryview.jsp?search_by=xml+certification+prep

I read these once and found it all hazy; then I read Harold's "XML in a Nutshel" -- Found that way too dry, but it gave me an idea; came back & read the IBM material. Things are a lot more clearer now.

I am trying to calibrate the depth required. Perhaps I should try the $10 trial exam from IBM/Prometric & see where I stand.
[ January 04, 2007: Message edited by: Shapra Benglur ]
Kris Lightsey
Greenhorn

Joined: Feb 03, 2005
Posts: 25
Originally posted by Shapra Benglur:
Kris,
Here's the 5 part series I referred to:

http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/views/xml/libraryview.jsp?search_by=xml+certification+prep

I read these once and found it all hazy; then I read Harold's "XML in a Nutshel" -- Found that way too dry, but it gave me an idea; came back & read the IBM material. Things are a lot more clearer now.

I am trying to calibrate the depth required. Perhaps I should try the $10 trial exam from IBM/Prometric & see where I stand.

[ January 04, 2007: Message edited by: Shapra Benglur ]



Shapra,
There are a fair amount of details that they cover, but luckily there are quite a few questions that are conceptual. They will have questions where you decide if the examples given are valid xml and how to do xslt transforms, etc. The specifications are too big for any of us to memorize all details of everything, this is why it is good they had as many conceptual questions on the test as they did. I'm just sorry I spent so much time struggling with the whizlabs tests. I found them to be pretty useless, but maybe some people might get something out of it. Yes, I would definitely get a better mock exam if I could -- I would think IBM's would be a good choice.

Good luck with it!
--Kris
Mikalai Zaikin
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 04, 2002
Posts: 3233
    
    7
Congratz !


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Shapra Benglur
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 12, 2006
Posts: 32
Kris, thank you for the information.

Best,
Shapra
Billy Tsai
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 23, 2003
Posts: 1304
Dear Kris
How long did it take for you to prepare for this exam with all the resources you listed?
and did you study the whole book or just sections of the book matching the exam objective, can you list out those sections of the books you studied matching the exam objectives?
What are the other articles on IBM's Developer Works Website are related to the preparation of this exam
Thank You


BEA 8.1 Certified Administrator, IBM Certified Solution Developer For XML 1.1 and Related Technologies, SCJP, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCDJWS, SCJD, SCEA,
Oracle Certified Master Java EE 5 Enterprise Architect
Kris Lightsey
Greenhorn

Joined: Feb 03, 2005
Posts: 25
Originally posted by Billy Tsai:
Dear Kris
How long did it take for you to prepare for this exam with all the resources you listed?
and did you study the whole book or just sections of the book matching the exam objective, can you list out those sections of the books you studied matching the exam objectives?
What are the other articles on IBM's Developer Works Website are related to the preparation of this exam
Thank You


Hello, Billy,
I have had some work experience that was relevant to the subject, so I think I studied for at least a month, maybe a bit longer. I definitely only studied sections of the book that related to the objectives. There certainly were sections that I skipped in the books that would not help at all for the test. I also thought the Sams XSLT book was pretty good, too.

Most of the articles I referred to are links on my computer at home, which I do not have right now. I just would do internet searches on key words that were relevant in that list of objectives and found IBM references as well as others.

Here's a really good article on recursion that actually refers to subjects directly covered on the exam. Be sure to understand simple XSLT recursion examples, as well as the issues with recursion (memory hog). Notice what they say can be used to alleviate this problem -- also notice there is more than one solution and the differences between these solutions. (Just conceptually, not to program yourself. I mean, the complicated examples you don't need to program yourself like "divide and conquer", but be able to program just the basic, simple recursion examples.)

http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/xml/library/x-xslrecur/

Hope it goes well for you!
--Kris
Billy Tsai
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 23, 2003
Posts: 1304
Hi
Can you list out the sections of the books matching the IBM 142 exam ?
thanks alot
 
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