Thoughts on Alfresco’s Recognized Developer Accreditation Test

Alfresco is rolling out a new accreditation program. A certain subset of partners (I’m not sure what the criteria is–ask your rep) can take an online test that validates whether or not you know a thing or two about Alfresco. If you pass, you’re a “Recognized Alfresco Developer”, which ostensibly comes with a secret handshake and a map to the club house.

When I first heard about the program I was a little skeptical. Don’t get me wrong–anything that my company and I can use to help differentiate ourselves from more, um, what’s the word I’m looking for–casual? less-experienced? opportunistic?–partners is a good thing. And, as we continue to grow, I can use accreditation as a potential data point when making hiring decisions. My concern was that the test would lack both depth and breadth and we’d end up where we are now: A bunch of partners of varying capability lumped into the same “Gold” category (or “Platinum” if you fork over the big dough).

After taking the test (and passing–c’mon, was there any doubt?) I feel better about it. The test actually appeared to do a decent job of covering many different aspects of the product including configuration and developer issues we see on real world implementations, so it’s not an easy test. Kudos to Carlos Miguens and the Alfresco Training team–I know it must have been a big project to get the accreditation program pulled together and construct a test that, at least to me, feels like the right level of detail and difficulty.

I do think the test could be improved. I think there was way, way too much emphasis on the WCM product. The value of the 30 or so questions asked on WCM out of the 100 or so total asked is that it really does take someone who’s been around the product a while to get those right. I just think the test is over-weighted toward WCM compared to the proportion of actual “project share” the WCM product gets in real life versus the core repository.

I think there were also too many questions on the Explorer client. Again, maybe the goal is to be slightly biased towards those partners who have been working with Alfresco long enough to have done an Explorer customization or even simply to know certain details about the Explorer UI. But most clients are now using and customizing Share as their primary interface versus Explorer. On the other hand, I think it is a bit early for “Share customization” to be an accreditation test topic, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves!

I also think it would be helpful feedback to give the test taker an idea of what was missed. It doesn’t have to be the exact question (although there were several answers I’d love to vigorously defend if I did indeed miss them) but other similar tests I’ve taken in the past have offered up the “weak” areas so the student could shore those up. Thanks for the passing grade and everything, but, not giving any hint as to what I missed is like starting a great joke with a huge build-up and then dropping dead before you can tell me the punch line.

What I don’t know is how well formal training prepares you for the test. I would hope that, in the aggregate, real world implementers score as good or better than groups of test takers who are fresh out of Alfresco training but lack on-the-ground experience. Really, it has to be that way for accreditation to be meaningful. I haven’t taken any of Alfresco’s training, so I’m curious to hear feedback on the test from those that have.

If you haven’t taken your test yet, good luck! I wish I could tell you what to study that will help you do well, but, honestly, I can’t think of any one reference that’s going to do the trick. And, really, I guess that’s a good thing.

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