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.



Comments (12)

  1. Kiran says:

    Hi Gerry

    Reading your analogy with your HVAC/R background, I thought to might want to have a think by looking at a Microsoft analogy that would come to an opposite conclusion to what you have.

    Here it goes:  When Win 7 is released, the total demand for WinXP & Vista will still remain higher than Win7. So what does Microsoft do, concentrate their effort on WinXP & Vista because that is where the numbers is; no way!!  Similarly the concentration should no longer be on WinForms but on WPF Apps.

    The WinForms could well remain at the Ver 3.5 exams & going forward could be WPF.  After all there is nothing major new added to WinForms in .NET 4.

    Microsoft have always looked to the future but where this exam thing seems to be going just doesn’t seem consistent to me.

  2. Kiran,

    You are one of those 20% I’m talking about.

    You have voiced your opinion many times in the past two blogs about what you want.  Your comments have been heard however, the decision does not rest with you and I stand by my decisions.

    As I stated, we will create the exam with the content that the majority of people want. We have to reach a balance point.  


  3. Kiran says:

    Hi Gerry

    I knew the decision didn’t stand with me or for that matter anyone else but with you & I knew that when I first made my comment as you already said that it was 99% decided at that stage.  I did realise that all you were doing was looking for something to justify your decision.  It seems to me that you weren’t looking to listen to reason although you might say so.  I’ve given my comments so you can either listen or not it is up to you.

    Since you indicate that the decision is 100% now, I see little to make any further comment to you on this & waste any furthe time with this.  Good luck with you future exams.

  4. Any comments on how Microsoft will make a single exam that will cover both Windows Forms and WPF?

    Really, both Windows Forms and WPF could easily fill up two exams each in the current time limits placed on certification exams.

    What are these exams going to look like?  Are they just going to be survey exams of WPF and Windows Forms?  I just don’t see how on earth Microsoft will cram both of these two enormous subjects into one single exam.

    On a different track, for your comments:

    "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."

    You are pretty much correct, unless you are using the beta version of Visual Studio 2010 and .NET 4.0.  Kudos to the .NET 4.0 WPF and Visual Studio 2010 teams.  It looks like they are finally filling in the missing pieces of WPF that have always made me reluctant to recommend WPF for a production UI.

    I don’t know if Microsoft fully realizes just how much support they gave to WPF by dog-fooding it with Visual Studio 2010 and Blend.  I can’t put into words just how much easier it is to recommend WPF when Microsoft is actually creating major products with it.

  5. Hi Trent,

    Thanks for the comments.  You are correct, one exam cannot possibly cover all that is present in both technologies.  One exam can’t cover everything for just one of these let alone two.

    It’s not my intention to do so.  There will be coverage on Windows Forms as necessary but I fully suspect the experts we bring in will give the lion’s share to WPF.  Just a thought, if may not go that way but we’ll wait and see.

    I also believe that MS does indeed know how much of a boost they are giving WPF with VS 2010.  I really like what I see in this next version.  Now if I could just time to actually use it more……  🙂


  6. Geoff says:

    Hi Jerry,

    I have missed out on previous debates but I am both an MCPD in Windows and Windows 3.5, I did a couple of hours study for 70-505, nothing much had really changed since 2.0.  I will probably not use WPF anytime soon, I think combining the exam will be detrimental.  I will probably be able to pass the 4.0 windows exam if combined with very shaky WPF skills, this does not help employers know where peoples skills lie.  Projects will be either WPF or Windows, knowing people’s skill set is important.  I think there is little value in testing windows client programming with new exams if it is not going to be moving forward as a technolgy and it undermines the WPF skills test.  Also from my perspective it is a waste of money and time taking exams to prove your skills are current when nothing has changed.

    Thanks for your consideration.

    P.S 80% of people can be wrong otherwise how else could we be in a credit crisis 🙂

  7. Hi Geoff,

    You’re correct, the Windows exams didn’t change much.  However, keep in mind that Windows Developer will mean WPF.   🙂

    ps, I hope your reading and skills improve.  I’ll leave that as a puzzle for you to figure out.  🙂


  8. Hi Gerry,

    I vote for RIA MCPD =)

    We are currenlty use WPF and Silverlight only. So there is no way for us to get MCPD without useless studying of ADO.NET and WinForms.

    For example why I think ADO.NET exam is useless for many people: perhaps 80% of people uses ORMs or P&P Data Access over it.

    And surely WinForms should be OPTIONAL! I’m working with .NET about 5 years and I never use it at ALL!


    Alexey Zakharov.

  9. Hi Alexey,

    Thanks for the feedback.


  10. David says:

    I agree with Geoff, significant new technology and core development skills should require new exams.

    What should not immediately require new exams are :-

    1. New MS versions or product releases.

    2. Exam re-structuring

    3. Certification path changes etc.

    The fact that you are innovating on the cert tracks should not punish those that have already certified. Old exams should remain valid on new tracks.

    I think you are not taking Geoff’s points onboard judging by your remarks.

    People who certified on version 2.0 or 3.5 should not have to jump through hoops every ten minutes in order to remain employable or be able to market themselves in todays climate.

    Certifications main value is to show employers a level of competency, it takes years for the employment market to understand a certification track, innovating this often just causes pain for developers that try to cetify.

Skip to main content