Friday, July 7, 2017

MCD - Integration and API Associate certification tips

In this post, I want to share my experience on how I passed successfully the MCD - Integration and API Associate certification exam. This is one of the entry level certifications for the Mule platform.

Working for IO Connect Services as an Integration Engineer, I need to focus on Enterprise Integration for my daily tasks, and for this purpose, we use the Mule integration platform by MuleSoft.
To prepare for the MCD certification, you can find plenty of documentation and tips in many sites and developer forums like in StackOverflow and MuleSoft.U - where courses and tutorials are for free.

Introduction to the exam.

This is not a complicated exam, but you must have a good software developer background in order to understand the topics.
You have the chance to use AnyPoint Studio Enterprise Edition for 30 days free, this is a very useful tool and this is where you are going to do your practices. AnyPoint Studio is an Eclipse Based IDE that contains visual tools that are very intuitive. After all, Mule uses Java, then if you are familiar with this language and you have some experience using the Spring framework, you are more than ready to start.

I highly recommend that in all of the practices, you use the debugger tool to see how the variables change between the application components. This will help you to identify why and how these changes happen, and this type of knowledge is fundamental to pass the exam.

The exam contains the following topics:
  1. Introducing API-Led Connectivity
  2. Designing APIs
  3. Building APIs
  4. Deploying and Managing APIs
  5. Accessing and Modifying Mule Messages
  6. Structuring Mule Applications
  7. Consuming Web Services
  8. Handling Errors
  9. Controlling Message Flow
  10. Writing DataWeave Transformations
  11. Connecting to Additional Resources
  12. Processing Records

Exam preparation.

MuleSoft offers two courses for training: the instructor-led Anypoint Platform Development Fundamentals course - onsite and online delivery - and the self-paced MuleSoft.U Development Fundamentals course. Both options cover all the topics for the exam, the difference is that in the first one you have to attend regular classes with an instructor for five days, eight hours a day; and in the second option you are given the training material and you study and practice it on your own. The official MuleSoft.U site says that the self-paced training may take you up to eight weeks if you study the material 3 hours per week, but if you are very dedicated, you can prepare it in a shorter time. Both training options are great, you can decide which one to take based on your available time, the way that you feel more comfortable, and last but not least... the price. By the time of writing this post, the instructor-led training has a price tag around the $2,500 USD.

These are the links to get more details of the two training options:
  • Instruction-led: https://training.mulesoft.com/instructor-led-training/apdev-fundamentals
  • Self-learning: https://training.mulesoft.com/instructor-led-training/mulesoftu-fundamentals
In my case, and based on the support of my employer and manager, I decided to take the self-learning option since I could study around six to eight hours every day during weekdays. I found myself confident to take the exam in less than 2 weeks to do the exam, and you know the result… I passed! At the end, it all depends on your available time and dedication.

Extra documentation.

Unfortunately for this certification there aren’t practice exams out there as in other certification programs, but the course material provided by MuleSoft is very complete and easy to follow. If you feel that you need more information you can use this other training resource:

MuleSoft User Guide.

The MuleSoft official site provides you a complete guide to its products, there you can find a more detailed information about the tech specifications and code examples of all Mule modules and components.

https://docs.mulesoft.com/mule-user-guide/v/3.8/

Ask the Experts.

If you know someone that was obtained the certification before, try to ask him/her, if not, you always can go to the MuleSoft forums looking for answers, try to search it first before post, it is highly possible that someone asks the same question before.

https://forums.mulesoft.com/index.html

Tips for the exam.

Here are some tips that I recommend that you take into consideration before taking the exam:

You Have Opportunities.

If you don’t pass the exam, don’t worry, you have another two chances to take it, at the same modality, so if this happen to you, check the results page and see in which modules you need to improve, go back to the material, study and take notes of these parts and bring it to you in the next chance.

Bring Notes.

This is an online unproctored open book exam, that means that you have the possibility of bring books and notes, even to search on internet, but I highly recommend that you bring notes of the modules that you really think that not completely understand, you didn’t want to waste time searching the answers that you already know only for “be sure” if you have time at the end go back to the question that you are no sure and compare it with your notes.

Use the Debugger.

I mentioned it before, but I want to say it again. It is very important that you take time to use the AnyPoint Studio Debugger in the most of the practices, this way you get to see how the variables change their values and the way the flow components interact with each other.

A big thing to highlight her, the debugger is a tool only available on AnyPoint Studio Enterprise Edition - it is not in available in the Community Edition. Thankfully, you have a 30 days for free to use the EE version, so take advantage of it. If for some reason you can’t launch the application in debug mode, check your target Mule server edition.

Read all in the exam.

Be careful at the moment of answering the questions, read all the description of the question and all the possible solutions; some answers can be tricky.

Learn about Java.

You use visual components and xml documents to develop Mule applications, but all is based in Java. Also, in the final training modules, you learn how to create components for your applications based on Java. It is important that you know this programing language in advanced to understand how the Mule applications run. You have to use a JVM based language like Java if you want to build custom Mule extensions.

Learn about Enterprise Integration Patterns.

Many Mule components are concrete implementations of the Enterprise Application Patterns. This is not a must for the MCD exam, but they are very handy if you want to build robust, reliable, extensible, and fault tolerant Mule applications. I recommend that you take a look to http://www.enterpriseintegrationpatterns.com

Conclusion.

I hope this post can be helpful for your preparation for the MCD - Integration and API Associate certification exam. No matter what option you choose, instructor-led or self-pacing study, be constant, study and prepare your notes. This is not a complicated exam. Don’t worry if you fail in the first time, you have other opportunities (the certificate doesn’t show how many times you take to pass the exam).

Thank you for taking your time to read this article, I really hope my shared experience could be helpful to you. If you have some comment to complement this post, please share it with us! We would love to hear from you.

Happy studying!

1 comment:

  1. Hello Ivring,

    What a brilliant post I have come across and believe me I have been searching out for this similar kind of post for past a week and hardly came across this.
    I have noticed that all the flows in the training videos are all having names, that ending with "Flow".
    The Action list is located on the right side of the Profiler header. It gives you quick access to a number of profile related actions and input screens that you are likely to use while in the profile, but that are not directly related to the creation of the profile. Move back and forth between the tabs and action windows by clicking a tab or action.
    Isn't this adding unnecessary noise?
    In the XML view it is actually very clean, that the given element is a flow, since it is a flow element:

    ....

    In the graphical designer it is also obvious, since there is a special visual element representing the flow.
    Why keep on adding the "Flow" suffix to the names of the flows? What advantage does this provide? Is there something here I am not getting?
    Excellent tutorials - very easy to understand with all the details. I hope you will continue to provide more such tutorials.

    Thank you,
    Nancy

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