Windows vs WPF

Wow, what a lot of feedback on both blogs around the Windows Forms vs WPF debate.  All good comments and excellent feedback folks, thanks very much.  For those who haven’t read or partaken in the discussions, allow me to provide some background.

Our current set of certifications and exams for the developer community contain MCTS exams for Windows Forms and Windows Presentation Foundation.  Our MCPD exams currently provide for Windows Developer, Web Developer and Enterprise Developer.  The requirements sparked some debate over the Windows Forms exam being a part of the enterprise developer track but not the WPF exam.  To be honest, I interacted with about 10 people total who wanted either the option to choose, or for Windows Forms to be replaced by WPF.  The rest, all supported the Windows Forms decision.

Now, I have a background in the HVAC/R industry.  Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration.  Stay with me for a minute and you’ll see where I’m heading with this.  There is an organization that deals with the engineering aspects of this industry known as the American Society for Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers.  These guys are engineers who do nothing but study, design and test aspects of pretty much everything HVAC related so they must know what they are talking about, right?

ASHRAE has a rule that states for comfort in an office building, you will never be able to satisfy more than 80% of the people at any one time.  This means that if you sit in an office where there are cubicles, let’s say, and there are four of you in a location next to each other.  This means that temperature wise, only 3.2 of you will be happy at best with the settings.  I can validate and verify that form my experience working in the industry many moons ago.

Now, what does that have to do with Windows Forms and WPF?  Quite simply the same rule applies.  No matter what decision is made in regards to coverage of these technologies for certifications, at best, only a certain percentage of you will be happy.  Can we make it to 100%?  No we cannot.  Can we get close?  I certainly hope so.

As a result, here is what I am proposing for the Visual Studio 2010 certifications.  There will be one MCTS exam and one MCPD exam that will focus strictly on Windows development.  This does not mean Windows Forms only.  Windows development means Windows Forms OR WPF.

Microsoft’s direction is that desktop development should be done using WPF.  I don’t disagree.  However, I also know that not everyone is or will be developing using WPF and some will still continue to use Windows Forms.  As a matter of fact, unless I am missing a lot of WPF knowledge (this may be true), WPF still does not contain a replacement WPF version for each and every Windows Forms control.  I think we’re getting close though.  This means that you still require at least “some” knowledge of Windows Forms.

As a result, when the exam starts development later this year, your peers, and even some of you who are interested and qualified, will help decide the coverage of Windows Forms and WPF on the exams.  That’s right, contrary to popular belief, I nor MSL, nor Microsoft decides what goes on these exams.  It is decided by your peers who work with this technology on a day to day basis.   Yes, I do guide the coverage and yes I do influence a certain amount but only to the point where it makes sense for the entire audience and the certifications from the portfolio perspective.

SO.  Interested in being heard and having some input into the exam contents?  Let me know.  I will need to evaluate your expertise and experience with the technologies and of course, you familiarity with our certifications would help greatly.  Interested only because you want to squash Windows Forms and scream WPF from atop Mt. Everest, or at least here in Redmond, atop Mt. Rainier?   Well, that’s not what the exam process is all about but your still welcome to come with an objective view.

I don’t have dates yet for when these exams will take place and we have options for participating in various stages throughout the exam dev cycle.  Some stages do not have options for changing the exam design however.

Please don’t flood my inbox, and remember that there are only so many openings available, but send your intention along with qualifications to me at gerry.obrien@ you know the rest.  I make no guarantees you will be chosen, there other exams too, and you will be contracted through a third party so ensure there are no conflicts with existing contracts or employers, but I am happy to have you help out with the exams.

As usual, comments and suggestions are welcome.