My View on the New Microsoft Certification Titles

In the past few weeks we’ve learned that Microsoft has changed the structure of the certification program that has been established in 2007.

Right now we had three different tiers of the certification:

  • Technical Specialist (MCTS): the competency in a specific technology
  • Professional Developer (MCPD) / IT Professional (MCITP): the competency in design, analysis and decision-making about the technology
  • Master (MCM): the top-level certification for a specific technology

Well, now Microsoft has changed the tiers into the following:

  • Solutions Associate (MCSA): The entry-level certification
  • Solutions Developer / Solution Expert (MCSD / MCSE): The professional-level certification
  • Solutions Master (MCSM): The top expert level

The focus here is on the competence in providing solutions, on premise, cloud or hybrid. The exam content and difficulty are adjusted to the real-world solutions, not to a technology-only crammed concepts and code. It should protect and ensure the value of the new certifications in the real world.

I think that there’s still a lot of work to do for Microsoft to successfully communicate the need for a change. As far as I can read, the new certifications are “cloud-ready” but I have a tingling feel that it’s a marketing rebranding of an existing 3-tiered structure, together with really important changes in the format and content of the certifications. In my opinion, the changes themselves should be highlighted more prominently but they are hidden among the Azure/Cloud marketing fluff.

Microsoft has posted more information about the new certification schema and the upcoming titles. The first new certifications are: Private Cloud MCSE, Database MCSE & Business Intelligence MCSE:

My SharePoint Saturday Belgium Session Material

I had a very exciting SharePoint Saturday in Brussels, Belgium this Saturday 28th. I met many SharePoint experts and fellow speakers and I had a very nice time during my short stay in Belgium. I felt at home among the good people from BIWUG.


The venue


SharePint, Belgian style


Speakers’ Room, aka “The War Room”

My session was about developing Windows 8 Metro-style applications connected to SharePoint data. You can find the slides for the session on SlideShare.

The sample code can be downloaded from my SkyDrive. A big thanks to Juan Manuel Servera for his code that does claims authentication against SharePoint online.

Primer “pantallazo” de SharePoint 15 Beta

No sé si fiarme mucho, pero en la web de un desarrollador turco llamado Timur Sahin ha salido un pantallazo que el dice que es de la beta pública del SharePoint 15 (o SharePoint 2013, que parece que será su nombre oficial).

Oficialmente la beta pública está prevista para este verano, según Microsoft.


Me parece un diseño bastante limpio y en consecuencia con el lenguaje de diseño Metro. Si tuviera que darle un porcentaje de credibilidad (porque hasta que Microsoft diga algo, no se sabe nada a ciencia cierta), sería un 60%.

JavaScript Errors in SharePoint Application Pages

Today was a day packed with investigation and troubleshooting weird JavaScript errors on a customer premise. I put this information on my blog so to help anyone who might have found in a similar journey.


Problem 1: Views

You have a custom SharePoint 2010 master page. You assign that master page as the master page for a site, both for content and system pages. You face the following errors when dealing with list or library views:

  • You can’t change the current view in the Ribbon view selector. The combo box doesn’t drop down. Additionally, you do not have the view selector on the page title.
  • You edit the current view (or any other view). A JavaScript error is displayed in Internet Explorer and you can’t save the changes. However, in Firefox you can modify the view without any problems.
Problem 2: File Upload page

You have a custom SharePoint 2010 application page. The page inherits from the default SharePoint file upload page. You want to replace the file upload control with a custom control. However, you have to maintain the original control because the inherited code relies on the presence of those controls. You hide the controls but you still face JavaScript errors due to the hidden control validation scripts.


Problem 1: the culprits are the new SharePoint 2010 master page placeholders and delegate controls.

In order to have view selector working, you have to add the following DelegateControl to the master page (as found on this thread):

<SharePoint:DelegateControl runat="server" ControlId="TreeViewAndDataSource">

The weird JavaScript errors on the Edit View page were caused by a PlaceHolderUtilityContent that was misplaced. This content placeholder should be placed outside the <form> tag on the master page, as this MSDN article outlines.

<asp:ContentPlaceHolder id="PlaceHolderUtilityContent" runat="server"/>

It seems that the Internet Explorer breaks when a JavaScript error is found, and skips the execution of the remaining script block while Firefox just skips the current line and executes the remaining lines if they are correct. The errors were about the objects being null, as the IE skipped the object initialization commands due to the errors generated by a misplaced placeholder tag.

Problem 2: the culprit was the JavaScript emitted by the default validation controls for the file upload selector. The solution was to embed the default control inside an ASP.NET Panel control set to Visible="false". In this way the controls are present on the server but nothing is rendered back to the page, preventing JavaScript errors.

MS NetWork 2.0 en Mostar, Bosnia

Los días 4 y 5 de abril de 2012 estuve en la conferencia regional de Microsoft Bosnia-Herzegovina, llamada MS NetWork 2.0 en la preciosa (aviso: soy de allí así que no soy imparcial) ciudad de Mostar.


Mi sesión se llamaba “SharePoint como plataforma de desarrollo para programadores ASP.NET” y se trataba de acercar el mundo de SharePoint al desarrollador web, para aquellas aplicaciones en las que puede usar las funcionalidades de SharePoint en vez de programar las funcionalidades desde cero.




Adjunto algunas fotos y la presentación (eso sí, sólo en bosnio) subida a SlideShare.

The Value of a Certification

I just attended the 2nd Microsoft NetWork event in Bosnia-Herzegovina. I spoke about how to start with SharePoint development for existing ASP.NET developers. I really enjoyed the conference and made a lot of friends there.

There was one thing that stuck on me, during the initial experts’ panel speaking on competitiveness and opportunities for Bosnia-Herzegovina in the regional and global IT industry. The piece that piqued my curiosity was the one when the value of the university degrees was cast into doubt in face of several private universities operation in the “gray” area of legality. The CEO of LogoSoft, the MS Learning Partner, replied that there should be more focus on the global certifications that are recognized worldwide. They are much more difficult to achieve and very difficult to bluff on.

That’s the subject of my post: how the Microsoft certification has been improving in order to keep the value of the certification current and untarnished. Several years ago there were many sites where you could download the “cram” sessions and even the whole exam questions list, answered of course. That really diminished the difficulty that the candidates faced on the certification exam and thus diminished the value of obtaining it.

Microsoft has improved since then, pursuing the offending sites and rotating the question pool frequently. In the next wave of the exams (addressing NET Framework 4 and Windows 7) they even contacted us MCTs to listen for improvements. With our feedback, and feedback from other subject matter experts (SMEs), the exams were adjusted to keep the bar high enough and to test the really relevant questions to evaluate the candidate level of knowledge, focusing on real-world usage instead of textbook examples.

This all means that when you earn a Microsoft certification, your employers and peers know that you have up-to-date technological knowledge, and can bring more insightful problem solving skills to the workplace.