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Learning content for MCSDs: Web Applications and Windows Store Apps using HTML5

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Development 16 November 2012 - 

Recently, I started again to learn for various Microsoft certifications. First candidate on my way to MSCD: Web Applications is the Exam 70-480: Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3.

Motivation to go for a Microsoft exam

I guess, this is quite personal but let me briefly describe my intentions to go that exam.
First, I'm doing web development since the 1990's. Working with HTML, CSS and Javascript is happening almost daily in my workspace. And honestly, I do not only do 'pure' web development but already integrated several HTML/CSS/Javascript frontend UIs into an existing desktop application (written in Visual FoxPro) inclusive two-way communication and data exchange. Hm, might be an interesting topic for another blog article here...

Second, this exam has a very interesting aspect which is listed at the bottom of the exam's details:

Credit Toward Certification

When you pass Exam 70-480: Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3, you complete the requirements for the following certification(s):

  • Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3 Specialist
Exam 70-480: Programming in HTML5 with JavaScript and CSS3: counts as credit toward the following certification(s):
  • MCSD: Web Applications
  • MCSD: Windows Store Apps using HTML5

So, passing one single exam will earn you specialist certification straight-forward, and opens the path to higher levels of certifications.

Preparations and learning path

Well, due to a newsletter from Microsoft Learning (MSL) I caught interest in picking up the circumstances and learning materials for this particular exam. As of writing this article there is a promotional / voucher code available which enables you to register for this exam for free! Simply register yourself with or log into your existing account at Prometric, choose the exam for a testing facility near to you and enter the voucher code HTMLJMP (available through 31.03.2013 or while supplies last). Hurry up, there are restrictions...

As stated above, I'm already very familiar with web development and the programming flavours involved into this. But of course, it is always good to freshen up your knowledge and reflect on yourself. Microsoft is putting a lot of effort to attract any kind of developers into the 'App Development'. Whether it is for the Windows 8 Store or the Windows Phone 8 Store, doesn't really matter. They simply need more apps.

This demand for skilled developers also comes with a nice side-effect: Lots and lots of material to study. During the first couple of hours, I could easily gather high quality preparation material - again for free! Following is just a small list of starting points. If you have more resources, please drop me a message in the comment section, and I'll be glad to update this article accordingly.

  • Developing HTML5 Apps Jump Start
    • This is an accelerated jump start video course on development of HTML5 Apps for Windows 8. There are six modules that are split into two video sessions per module. Very informative and intense course material. This is packed stuff taken from an official preparation course for exam 70-480.
  • Developing Windows Store Apps with HTML5 Jump Start
    • Again, an accelerated preparation video course on Windows 8 Apps. There are six modules with two video sessions each which will catapult you to your exam. This is also related to preps for exam 70-481.
  • Programming Windows 8 Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript
    • Kraig Brockschmidt delves into the ups and downs of Windows 8 App development over 800+ pages. Great eBook to read, study, and to practice the samples - best of all, it's for free. Read my review on this title.
  • codeSHOW()
    • This is a Windows 8 HTML/JS project with the express goal of demonstrating simple development concepts for the Windows 8 platform. Code, code and more code... absolutely great stuff to study and practice.
  • Microsoft Virtual Academy

The list is not complete for sure, but this might keep you busy for at least one or even two weeks to go through the material. Please don't hesitate to add more resources in the comment section. Right now, I'm already through all videos once, and digging my way through chapter 4 of Kraig's book.

Additional material - Pluralsight

Apart from those free online resources, I also following some courses from the excellent library of Pluralsight. They already have their own section for Windows 8 development, but of course, you get companion material about HTML5, CSS and Javascript in other sections, too.

Interesting to see that Michael Palermo provides his course material on multiple platforms. Fantastic! You might also pay a visit to his personal blog. Hm, it just came to my mind that Aaron Skonnard of Pluralsight publishes so-called '24 hours Learning Paths' based on courses available in the course library. Would be interested to see a combination for Windows 8 App development using HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript in the future.

Recommended workspace environment

Well, you might have guessed it but this requires Windows 8, Visual Studio 2012 Express or another flavour, and a valid Developers License. Due to an MSDN subscription I working on VS 2012 Premium with some additional tools by Telerik. Honestly, the fastest way to get you up and running for Windows 8 App development is the source code archive of codeSHOW(). It does not only give you all source code in general but contains a couple of SDKs like Bing Maps, Microsoft Advertising, Live ID, and Telerik Windows 8 controls... for free!

Hint: Get the Windows Phone 8 SDK as well. Don't worry, while you are studying the material for Windows 8 you will be able to leverage from this knowledge to development for the phone platform, too.

It takes roughly one to two hours to get your workspace and learning environment, at least this was my time frame due to slow internet connection and an aged spare machine. ;-)

Oh, before I forget to mention it, as soon as you're done, go quickly to the Windows Store and search for ClassBrowserPlus. You might not need it ad hoc for your development using HTML5, CSS and Javascript but I think that it is a great developer's utility that enables you to view the properties, methods and events (along with help text) for all Windows 8 classes. It's always good to look behind the scenes and to explore how it is made.

Idea: Start/join a learning group

The way you learn new things or intensify your knowledge in a certain technology is completely up to your personal preference. Back in my days at the university, we used to meet once or twice a week in a small quiet room to exchange our progress, questions and problems we ran into. In general, I recommend to any software craftsman to lift your butt and get out to exchange with other developers. Personally, I like this approach, as it gives you new points of view and an insight into others' own experience with certain techniques and how they managed to solve tricky issues. Just keep it relaxed and not too formal after all, and you might a have a good time away from your dull office desk. Give your machine a break, too.

Updates

First, I passed exam 70-480 successfully.
Second, there is more content for your preparation.

Thanks to Michael Palermo's blog article I stumbled upon these great instructions by Matthew Hughes (hint: start at the bottom) to get yourself prepared for exam 70-480.


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