Claudiu Persoiu

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Passing Magento Developer Plus certification

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Over an year ago, I started working on the Magento platform. In last year’s spring, a colleague from Optaros took the Magento Developer Plus certification exam. Since then, I began to like the idea of taking the certification exam, more as a motivation to learn the ins and outs of Magento.

Few months ago I was enrolled into a company study group for the certification. This was the first time I was sponsored for a certification (yes, until now everything was with my money). Preparing in a study group was a whole different experience.

Those who have more experience in a field balance the situation for the others and can give better examples from their own experience. It’s easier to understand from concrete examples then to try to imagine the scenarios yourself.

The certification is available through Prometric. So when you decide that you’re ready you can go to the website to purchase the voucher and schedule the exam.

The price for a voucher is 260$, not exactly cheap, but if you get to convince your boss to pay, it probably won’t be so bad. 🙂

But let’s get to the more interesting subject, the preparation.

Magento is not doing very good on this subject, there are very few materials and they are not centralized.

My sources were:
Magento® Certified Developer Plus Exam Study Guide – it is compulsive to read the guide and try to find answers to all the questions in it;
Magento training – especially Fundamentals of Magento Development
– blogs – I don’t want to give any names, there are a lot of people that write about the problems that they encounter and blog about the exam.

Unfortunately there isn’t a way like for PHP, ZF and Symfony where you can find all you need in one place, basically it depends on your luck and searching skills, there isn’t an “official version”. Things become weird when you find different approaches that are version specific.

How did I prepare
I began with the video training. It’s not perfect by it’s very helpful. I think the problem with most certifications is that you don’t get to work with all the available modules, just like in PHP you don’t get to work that much with sockets and streams.

Even though you don’t get the code and sometimes it is hard to follow and transcribe the examples, I think that the video tutorials are one of the most important sources at the moment.

Secondly, with the Study Guide in my hand, I began to try to answer the questions from it. When I joined the Study Group, the work divided between all the members in the group. My advantage was that it was the second generation of the group and we could profit from the documentation already developed by the first group.

If you’re preparing by yourself, I think the most important thing is to start, that’s the hardest part. And if you don’t know where to start, Google search the Magento questions, there are already a lot of people that are posting the explanations.

Answers for the questions from the first chapters are the easiest to find. As the number of the chapter is getting bigger, the number of Google results decreases.

But after the first questions, you should understand what is all about and in theory you will no longer need the documentation.

Use Mage::log(Varien_Debug::backtrace(true, false)); for stack trace and xdebug ( to see what’s going on behind the scene. With patience, all the questions find their answers.

Because it was a group, the study was easier for me, but even so, to be sure of the explanation I has to dive deep in the code.

The exam
Some of the questions are difficult, but there are also accessible ones. The questions in the exam are off all levels of difficulty.

For Plus, the exam takes 2h not 2.5h as it is specified in the guide.

If you opted for Plus, there are 11 questions from Enterprise and advanced difficulty questions, of which 7 correct ones are required to pass. Basically this is the difficulty difference. For this questions it matters how much Enterprise experience you have.

In the guide for each exam, the questions are broken in percentages for each chapter.

Because in the non Plus certification there are no Enterprise questions, you only have to answer the necessary percentage from the full exam in order to pass and it’s not required to have a certain percentage from a certain chapter.

Things that are done regularly are analyzed in detail, it is important to understand how each function that is approached in each chapter works and what is the purpose of all those tags in the xml files.

Usually there are things you work with, or at least with which there is a good probability you have been working from the modules listed in the guide.

Post exam
Before you leave the room you’ll know if you’ve passed or not. When you exit the room you’ll receive a printed paper with the correct number of questions from each section from the total number .

In case you haven’t been successful you’ll receive by mail from Magento a voucher with a discount for a future attempt. They state that you should study at least 3 more weeks before you try again. Anyway, after you’ve taken the exam you’ll have a better view over your overall knowledge for a future attempt.

After few days (3 in my case) you will be able to see your profile on the Magento website as a reference.

The diploma got to Romania in about a month, the delivery address is the one from the Magento website account.

Best of luck!

Written by Claudiu Persoiu

16 February 2013 at 8:23 PM

Posted in Magento,PHP

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100+ PHP ZCE certified developers in Romania

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In 2008 when I had my first certification exam there were 22 Zend Certified Engineers in Romania, I was number 23.

With time looks like more people took the exam, and this week the number of 100 Zend Certified Engineers was exceeded!

After a search of PHP ZCE, full of joy, I find that the 100th certified web developer in Romania is actually my colleague and friend Emanuel Croitoru,  whom I’ve tortured for weeks on end with: “don’t worry, is easy”.

When the time came to really study the manual it didn’t look that simple. 🙂

But after all, the determination to make this step is just another reason that a ZCE is trying to become a good web developer!

Written by Claudiu Persoiu

25 February 2011 at 10:38 PM

Posted in PHP

Tagged with , , ,

Passing Zend PHP5.3 Certified Engineer Exam

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As I was saying in a previous blog, when Zend launched the new ZCE 5.3 certification I’ve received an discount voucher code, available until the end of year 2010. I wanted to use this opportunity, so in the last week of the year I’ve bought the voucher.

I already had the experience of the ZCE 5 certification, about which I’ve blogged at that time.

I wanted to take the exam before the end of the vacation, that is 7-I.

The period was a little short, in theory, I had about two weeks to prepare, but because they ware around the hollydays the time was in fact way shorter.

Zend PHP5 Certification Study Guide – 2nd Edition

I’ve begin my study with Zend PHP5 Certification Study Guide – 2nd Edition. The book even though it does not have the latest 5.3 features is not outdated. Because it wasn’t the first time I was reading it, it felt more like a recap. I’ve tried for each chapter to create an example that will show the functionality and one that shows the cases where the functionality was not as expected. With all this in 4 days I was able to go through the entire book.

As a suggestion, for streams and SPL for instance where is a little difficult to study directly form the manual, the guide looks like a good start.

Because after all the book is a guide, as I was reading the book, I’ve looked in the corresponding chapters in the manual for a more detailed view on the subjects.

Mock tests

Before I finished reading the first book I’ve took a PHP5 mock test and to my surprise the result was “Excellent”. I got the mock tests from when I took the ZCE 5 exam, and because a lot of the questions are repeat quite frequently, I’ve only used 3 back then. This time I’ve only took a couple of them for the same reason. The tests are quite useful for the PHP5 part because, just like there ware described, they are usual more complicated then the exam itself. But don’t take to many of them, especially if the first results are poor, because they may lead you in a false self trust because of the repetitive questions.

Zend PHP 5.3 Study Guide

When I’ve finished reading the first book I started reading the free Zend PHP 5.3 Study Guide, which can be downloaded from the certification page, in the right. The guide is in beta version and you can really feel that. Everyone who’s been talking (blogging) about it is saying that it is full of bugs, and after all that is true. One of the funniest bugs in my opinion is at page 109, question 12, the answer is D… which is not displayed in the page. But I believe that where there are bugs they will be easily discovered and will not mislead.

It feels a lot more like a guide then the previous book, is a lot more concise and abstract and if forces you to study the manual.

At the end of each chapter there are questions, I only had 100% on a couple of chapters. The questions a quite difficult, even more difficult then the questions in the actual exam in my opinion. You have to read each question carefully because in the exam there are the same type of questions.

To go through the entire guide it took me another couple of days because I was already warmed up from the precedent book.

The day before the exam

I’ve read on Lorna “lornajane” Mitchell‘s blog that before the exam is good to recap some delicate subjects. In the day before the test I’ve started to recap some subjects that need more memory then intellect, like the tens of functions for string si array manipulation. Also I think is a good idea to recap SPL.

The exam it self

After not a lot of studding the moment of the exam was here.

Just like the last time, I’ve schedule my exam over the Internet a day before and just went to the Pearson VUE center.

The exam itself didn’t feel more difficult then the PHP 5 one. In my opinion there is more focus on high level OOP and SPL then the previous exam. The style of the questions is quite similar, maybe a little more “type in” questions, but that can be just my luck because the questions are dynamically selected from a question pool with different difficulty levels.

The 90 minutes time has quite enough to go through all the questions whit all the attention required and to review the answers I wasn’t sure about. At the ZCE5 exam I’ve finished about a half of hour before the time. This time for ZCE 5.3 I’ve finished only 10 minutes early because I’ve tried not to rush at all.

READ CAREFULLY! Is very important to read each question carefully and read in again until you are sure you understand what is required of you. Some questions have a quite awkward formulation and can mislead very easy. Don’t panic, if you have doubts maybe you should mark the question for review and come back to it in the end.

I usually mark the first question of the exam for review because I’m nervous and I can’t focus enough.

Unlike 2 years ago, when I was working a lot more with raw PHP and even had some PHP 4 servers, last year I’ve worked most of the time with open-source frameworks. This can be a disadvantage because I’ve didn’t use just as much the core functions. But unlike the first certification I must admit I didn’t study as much, probably is because of experience and the fact that occasionally I flick through the pages of the guide.

And with that being said it is time to put the first check on the year resolution and add a new logo to my blog.

For those who are preparing, I wish you the best of luck!

Written by Claudiu Persoiu

8 January 2011 at 1:56 PM

A new version of the ZCE 5.3 guide

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It looks like Zend, launched a new version of the ZCE 5.3 (zend certified engineer) certification guide. To download it, the simplest way is to go to the certification details page, I mean here, in the right column at “DOCUMENTATION” there’s a link to this guide. The PDF documentation looks like it was modified on 16 Dec. I’m not giving a link to it because it may change when a new version will be available.

I didn’t get to look into it but I’m sure is a step forward to the previous beta version.

Anyway this is a guide and does not have the purpose of replacing the manual, but to indicate the subject of interest.

For me this certification if part of my 2011 resolution, and I hope that before the spring ends I’ll add a new logo to this blog. 🙂

Good luck to those who are preparing for ZCE 5.3!

Written by Claudiu Persoiu

27 December 2010 at 1:32 PM

Posted in PHP

Tagged with , , ,

The new ZCE PHP 5.3 certification

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Since PHP 5.3 was released last year I’ve been wandering if Zend was going to introduce a new ZCE certification for this version.

Seems like with the version PHP 6 abandoned some time back the direction was to a PHP 5.3 certification.

I don’t think the time was random considering that Zend Con, the biggest PHP conference, is near.

What’s new?

Differences between PHP 5 and PHP 5.3 are in the manual here.

Some of the most important once:


The certification information is on the Zend website.

After finding that the certification for Zend Framework has a study guide completely free for registered users, I was wandering why there isn’t one for the regular PHP certification. It looks like now there is: Zend-PHP-5.3-Study-Guide-v1-3.pdf, in beta version! And is free for download!

Of course the most important material remains the manual manualul PHP, because the guide is used in conjunction with it.

It looks like the mock tests are out, as for the Zend Framework never existed anyway.


The price has gone up, it isn’t 160$ anymore but 190$! The price remains a very small one anyway considering that an exam at Sun was 200$, and now at Oracle is 300$.

The already certified users receive an 20% discount until the end of the year, so if you are already certified you will pay 152$.

Best of luck!

Written by Claudiu Persoiu

17 October 2010 at 12:12 PM

Posted in PHP

Tagged with , , ,

Zend framework certification

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De putin timp Zend a lansat programul Zend Framework Certification. In cadrul programului de certificare, utilizatorul are la dispozitie manualul de referinta, ghidul de studiu, training si un voucher pentru examenul de certificare (si sa nu uitam un tricou foarte interesant 🙂 ).

Avantajele certificarii sunt aceleasi ca si la ZCE in PHP5.

Totusi fata de programul de certificare in PHP5, acest program are cateva lucruri diferite, cum ar fi:

PHP5 Zend framework
– este universal valabila pentru toti cei care fac programare in PHP5 – este folositoare doar celor care lucreaza cu… ZF
– este universal – exista si alte frameworkuri
– trecerea la alte versiune nu implica decat cunoasterea diferentelor – trecerea la alt framework greoaie

Trecand peste aceste diferente, atitudinea Zend este una bine venita, pana la urma atrage dupa sine un standard pentru in frameworkuri. Problema este ca nu sunt universal valabile, pana la urma chiar daca nu toti folosim un framework de pe piata, avem tendinta sa ne construim propriul framework.

Invatarea unui astfel de framework are totus avantajul de a oferi o noua perspectiva asupra lucrurilor, ne ajuta sa ne construm o imagine mai clara la ce trebuie sa ne asteptam de la frameworkul folosit. Pe de alta parte, un framework cum este Ruby on Rails a inspirat la randul lui multi programatori in modul cum un framework ar trebui construit, acesta avand echivalente in limbaje cum ar fi Java si evident PHP, fara ca multi dintre ei sa migreze la el. Si ce se intampla daca acum te certifici in el iar apoi te implici in proiecte care folosesc alte frameworkuri?

Pana la urma aceasta este tendinta, asa cum programarea obiectuala a oferit o perspectiva noua pentru refolosire fata de programarea procedurala, asa un framework are tendinta sa aduca programarea orientata obiect la un alt nivel, sporind gradul de refolosire al codului. Dar… doar Zend Framework este solutia?

Written by Claudiu Persoiu

28 September 2008 at 10:51 AM

Posted in Web stuff

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Zend PHP5 Certified Engineer

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Si a venit si momentul examenului (a si trecut). Dupa poate ceva mai putin timp decat ar fi trebuit pentru studiu, in ultima zi de concediu am decis sa sustin examenul.

Taxa am platit-o direct la Zend cu un card Visa Electron. Apropo, sa nu faceti aceeasi gresala ca mine, nu incercati sa platiti cu alt card decat cel personal! Am avut aproximativ 5 incercari, doua telefoane in Germania si unul in USA am ajuns sa-mi fac card pentru a cumpara examenul si alte cateva produse! Evident exista si alte metode de plata, dar nu la fel de rapide.

Cand am ajuns la programare, a fost deosebit de simplu, poate prea simplu pentru mine. Totul a mers conform planului, m-am programat si am asteptat ziua examenului.

Ziua examenului. Pentru ca nu aveam nici cea mai mica idee unde se afla centrul ales de mine din cadrul complexului Facultatea de Drept Bucuresti, am decis sa dau un telefon preventiv… nici un raspuns, am mai incercat, era suficient de tarziu cat sa fie cineva acolo si totusi… nici un raspuns.

Am hotarat sa ma duc acolo. Nu mica mi-a fost surpriza cand nimeni nu a auzit de Pearson VUE, iar cand spun asta nu ma refer la femeile de servici care tineau locul de portarului, ci la cei care raspund la telefonul de pe site. Dupa suficiente legaturi din centrala am gasit si centrul (undeva in dreapta) este de fapt un centru CISCO afiliat Person VUE.

Examenul a fost exact asa cum a fost descris pe site, singur in sala, fara obiecte personale, iar acelea care poti sa le iei cu tine in sala de examen nu pot sa le scoti. Examenul este supravegheat cu o camera, care ma facea sa cred ca voi auzi “zzz, zzzz” in timpul examenului de la zoom, dar nu a fost asa.

Examenul, asa cum scrie si in manualul de la Zend, se bazeaza pe experienta cu PHP. Trebuie sa ai cel putin idee de elementele PHP si in special sa ai ochiul format pentru debuging. Cum era de asteptat se analizeaza mai mult elementele atipice de implementare, functii standard PHP si mai putin capacitatea de a scrie cod, dar pana la urma este grila, nuprea aveau cum sa faca altfel. Examenul nu mi s-a parut foarte dificil, dar nici simplu. Se vede clar experienta cu PHP in intrebari, se vede cine s-a “jucat” si cine nu.

La finalul examenului, mi-a aparut “Congratulations you have passed the exam”, sau ceva de genul asta, eram prea fericit ca sa mai memorez.

A doua zi lucratoare am avut si profilul completat pe site, desi puteam sa-l editez la cateva ore de la terminare (de cand am ajuns acasa).

Acum astept diploma care se trimite prin posta, cred ca asta se trimite din Israel deci… o sa fie un cadou frumos de Craciun probabil…

Am uitat sa amintesc de “mock” testele pentru examen. Desi am primit la pachet 10, nu am folosit decat 3, iar cu fiecare test facut scorul a crescut. Din pacate motivul pentru crestere este ca intrebarile se repeta (nu toate dar suficiente) si nici macar nu le-am regasit in examen, forma este asemanatoare, dar diferentele sunt mari in continut. Va sfatuiesc sa nu luati pachete mari pentru ca rezultatele nu o sa mai fie relevante dupa primele teste.

Am citit pe alte bloguri care testul este mai ushor decat examenul. Eu nu am aceeasi parere, gradul de complexitate este de fapt similar, doar intrebarile deosebit de stufoase nu se regasesc in examen, in rest sunt similare.

Written by Claudiu Persoiu

17 September 2008 at 8:36 PM