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A collaborative SCJP 5 project (+ Java.Inquisition: yet another exam engine)

 
Matt Russell
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Hi all,

This is an announcement of a new collaborative project to build a free
(as in open-source) set of revision questions and/or mock exam for SCJP 5.0. The home page (actually a wiki -- a website that visitors can edit) is here:

SCJP mock exam project

Anyone can come and help out, either by contributing new questions or by providing feedback and bug-fixes on existing ones. Please feel free to get involved. You don't have to be a Java expert, either (I'm certainly not!) The idea is that people studying for the SCJP can help each other out. I've written 11 questions to get the ball rolling.

I've also developed a new exam engine to go along with this called "Java.Inquisition":

Java.Inquisition

There are, of course, quite a few mock exam engines out there already. Java.Inquisition is different from all the others I've seen in that:
  • it's free and open-source;
  • it supports drag-and-drop questions, and
  • it includes a rudimentary question editor.


  • This first release (version 0.1) should be considered alpha software, i.e., buggy and rough around the edges (there's a motto for open source projects: "release early, release often"). But do try it out; there's a Web Start link on the download page (it's something like 700k).

    Of course, Java.Inquisition is written in Java, and I'll be setting up a Subversion code repository soon so that people can hack on it.
     
    Barry Gaunt
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    Congratulations Matt! Looks good.
    I played the part of a user and did the sample test after doing the WebStart install. I got through it quite intuitively and did not have to think about how to use the program - I could concentrate on answering the problems. Hopefully I will get some time to investigate more thoroughly.
     
    Marcus Green
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    I disagree with your comment on the wiki where you say "As I've demonstrated by writing Java.Inquisition, any old idiot can put together a workable exam engine. "

    To create such software is a fine achievement. However you are right when you say

    "The difficult bit is writing a decent, bug-free question set which includes helpful explanations for the answers"

    But the absolute best of luck with it all.
     
    Paul Anilprem
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    Commendable effort, Matt!
    The GUI looks very sleek.

    Marcus is right. Speaking by experience (ETS Viewer and ETS Editor), creating such an app is not a trivial task.
    The fact that you have taken the initiative and persued it to completion speaks volumes about you.
     
    Sai Surya
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    I will contribute to this. However, after passing my SCJP 5.0 this month 28th.

    - Surya.
     
    Marcus Green
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    Just got around to looking at the application interface. Looks good but there is a bug. When you select the options for a drag/drop question and move off the question and back again it remembers your options. To mimic the real application you need to forget all the options and make the users re-do the question. Aaaaaarrrrrrrgh, yes your interface works and the real one is broken. For the genuine authentic exam experience you need to give your users a truly broken user interface. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
     
    Barry Gaunt
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    Originally posted by Marcus Green:
    Just got around to looking at the application interface. Looks good but there is a bug. When you select the options for a drag/drop question and move off the question and back again it remembers your options. To mimic the real application you need to forget all the options and make the users re-do the question. Aaaaaarrrrrrrgh, yes your interface works and the real one is broken. For the genuine authentic exam experience you need to give your users a truly broken user interface. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr


    Hey, I missed that one Marcus. Yes, that's a feature we really need so as to get a real feel of the SCJP examp experience
     
    Marcus Green
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    Actually it should probably be a option to toggle before the exam starts, i.e. be bug for bug compatible or be sensible. In a similar way that it is an idea to allow the user to decide if the see the number of options to select. i.e. show the number of options to be athentic to the real exam, or do not show them to make it just that little bit harder.
     
    Matt Russell
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    Thanks for the kind comments!

    With regards to implementing the authentic Prometric drag-and-drop feature mentioned above: while it would be nice to be able to support that sophisticated functionality, I haven't yet, as a novice Java programmer, acquired the skills needed to implement it. I imagine you'd need many years of software development experience to be able to produce a system which is, as Prometric assured me when I asked them about it, "specifically designed to function in this manner".

    As a workaround, a user can simulate the Prometric feature on Java.Inquisition by manually removing the fragments from the slots, and then counting to a hundred to clear the mind, before proceeding to review the question.

    Yes, I'm being a little sarcastic, sorry ;-)
     
    Deepak Bala
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    wow ! That is a pretty good first java swing application. Good effort. I see you have added code to make the drag and drops transclucent and the edges of the window have some styling done. Good attention to detail and full marks for GUI design.

    How much time did you take to do this ? Very professional work !

    [EDIT]

    Good work on the look and feel too. I felt greedy and tried to get a Mac feel on my 2000
    [ October 05, 2006: Message edited by: John Meyers ]
     
    Marcus Green
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    For a minute Matt I was taking you seriously. It really is a very cool app.
     
    Abhishek Misra
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    Sweet!!! Matt if you plan on making it community driven may be go the open source way and post you stuff on sourceforge. This is a nicely done UI though commendable work.
     
    Marcus Green
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    It says at
    http://enigma.vm.bytemark.co.uk/inquisition/index.php/Licensing

    "I've released Java.Inquisition into the public domain. In effect, this is like a perfectly free, non-copyleft licence."

    However I would urge the adoption of a specific license that people recognise. For example a BSD, Apache or Mozilla license that gives the type of freedoms that is wanted (i.e. the ability to combine into a commercial product that does not require re-distribution of the source etc). There really is no such specific license as the public domain and a complete lack of license may have drawbacks.

    Here is a link to a sample of the BSD license

    http://www.opensource.org/licenses/bsd-license.php

    Excuse me I am a copyright/software license wonk big time. Go on ask me something about the GPL/LGPL
    [ October 06, 2006: Message edited by: Marcus Green ]
     
    Matt Russell
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    Marcus: I considered the MIT license, which has about as few restrictions as you can manage in a software license. We could potentially use that. Public domain is not a license, of course, but it does ensure people have all the necessary freedoms. What would you see as the disadvantages?

    (Discussing this further here would be too off-topic, I think; we could use this discussion page).
     
    Marcus Green
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    Followed up in the wiki
     
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