I have recently passed the Zend Certified Engineer 2017, certification offered by Rogue Wave.
While experience is the most important thing for a certification, books are the best way to expand your knowledge, in my opinion.
Since a certification is something very specific, there aren’t a lot of books.
Before we begin, keep in mind that the most exhaustive resource for learning PHP is the manual, always take a look on all the classes and functions available.
Zend Certified Engineer Exam Study Guide $20
I’ve bought this book just so I can review it and earn my right to have an opinion about it.
The study guide was introduced with the certification for PHP 5.3 and it was a free resource. The quality of the book has updated continually, but never by a lot and at some point it was no longer a free resource.
Over time I kept hoping that it will become better and better, but it didn’t. It’s a short book with a big font and lots and lots of misspellings and errors.
The only good part about it is that it has several questions for each chapter, other then that it’s not a very good resources and it’s not worth the $20, probably about $5 would be closer to a fair price since with every version they just update it a bit and adding the new features of the language. The questions don’t even seem to change a lot over time.
So if it’s the only book you are going to buy, go for the next one.
PHP 7 Zend Certification Study Guide – Andrew Beak – Apress 2017 – $19.99
The book is exploring all the sections for the certification in more depth, it has over 300 pages.
It feels more like a programming book and less like a guilde. The quality of the book is way better than the official guide, but that’s not hard at all considering that the guide set such a low bar.
There are also questions on all the chapters which is a good way to practice your knowledge in an exam format. The questions just feel a bit more soft than the guide, the exam itself has a lot of very tricky questions.
Of course this book is not exhaustive, you can’t really cover all the subjects in depth in a single book, and even if it did, then you would probably not have time to read it anyway.
If you are going to buy a single book, I would recommend this one, since it’s an actual book, not a very high level (and low quality) guide.
Zend PHP 5 Certification Study Guide, Third Edition – php[architect] – $22
If you think that I’ve got the version wrong, well, what can I say? you are right!
I wanted to add this book here because for me it was the best Study Guide. Over the years there were various study guides but this one I liked the most.
For the PHP 5 certification there wasn’t an official certification from Zend, only the first edition of this book. It was just a nice programming book to read. Sometimes, when I want to remember something that I haven’t used a lot, or at all, I will read the chapter in this book.
When I took the PHP 5.5 certification, (because I just had to collect them all) I was happy to find out that there is a new version of the book.
It’s basically the same book but updated to cover the new certification. It may be that I like Davey Shafik’s style of writing.
The book feels a bit more dense in terms of information, for me it just feels more like a study guide then the previous book.
However this book does not have questions and is no longer up to date.
If you have the time you can give it a read anyway, I think it is a good general PHP book.
Not a lot of books for this certification, but if I had to pick only one, it would be the “PHP 7 Zend Certification Study Guide” from Apress.
Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of competition, because the “Zend PHP 5 Certification Study Guide, Third Edition” from PHP Arch is no longer up to date and the official guide just isn’t worth the $20 price tag.
If your boss will buy the books, I say go all in! After all, the cost is: $20 + $19.99 + $22 = $61.99! Not bad for three programming books!
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!
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 php.net manual for a more detailed view on the subjects.
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!
Another year has passed and PHP 6 will not arrive.
Actually for the last couple of years I’ve been expecting PHP 6, and I believe this is more of a traditional blog for me to close the year.
PHP 6 will not come because the trunk was abandoned and rebuild from a 5.3.
Even if PHP 6 will not be out for a while now, PHP 5.3 is gaining popularity. Frameworks like Zend Framework and Symfony are each preparing in 2011 a 2.0 version that will need PHP 5.3+ to run. Even CodeIgniter, a framework that is was traditional PHP 4 compatible will need at least PHP 5.1.6 for version 2.0.
Even more, the official Zend certification for PHP is now ZCE 5.3, and it’s becoming very popular, even if it was released just few months back.
But a new year is ending and is time to check achievement from last year’s resolution and to write a new one.
Last year I’ve finished my masters, and with it I’ve finished way to many years to want to count of school. In fact this is the firs winter that I’m not in some form of school, maybe this is why I feel like I have so much free time :).
I’ve change my work place, and with it I was forced to use some things that were on my TODO list for quite some time:
- Symfony Framework Linux was a subject around I was gravitating inevitable for years, but never got to in to deep. It was always on my “todo” list, but never got the time or patience to really get into much detail with it, or didn’t have the continuity when I did it. When I got to my new work place I found my self in front of a Ubuntu computer, and I’ve started to panic a little.
After few months I’ve made a new step, and for the first time in my life I went to a professional course. The course was organised by Info Academy. Paid from my own pocket and a little overlapped with my work hours. But I’ve reached the conclusion that I had to do it. Probably it does not sound like a big deal, but I usually study on my own, and it was quite weird for me. Now that is over I can say that it was a great investment and I recommend it (to all from Romania that can go to this centre).
Sometime during that course I’ve realised that it was time to boot in linux from time to time even at home. The next step was to reconfigure the boot manager to boot directly to linux. Now that I’m almost exclusively use linux, I’ve reached the conclusion that is user friendly enough to be a real alternative to Windows.
Symfony framework is another dusty entry on my “todo” list. Even if I’ve been playing around before with CodeIgniter and Zend Framework, I’ve never even got near to Symfony until last year. I’ve felt the fundamental difference of concept between ZF and Symfony. This was another reason to panic at my new work place, and after all: “all frameworks suck”.
Is not a very easy to learn framework because of the concepts, but I thing it worth it. What I like most about this framework is the CRUD generating, that is very easy to do but is very powerful and flexible. Another thing is the use of YML files, which was taken from Ruby on Rails, is a way better alternative to the PHP’s native ini files.
In the end, 2010 was a good year, with lot’s of achievements, even if I didn’t check everything on my last year’s resolution, I think I’ve checked enough.
And now I wish you a great and full of achievements 2011! Happy new year!
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!