finding out when Oracle changes the certification objectives

As Scott and I noted in the introduction of our book, Oracle tends to fiddle with the duration, number of questions and passing score of their certification exams. They also fiddle with the exam objectives themselves on occasion. And as you might imagine, these aren’t well publicized.

First attempt

I originally thought that I would use the ChangeDetection service to subscribe to receive an email when the relevant certification pages changed. This turned out not to work as the HTML is always the same. Oracle uses AJAX to fill in the data. For example, the objectives page for the OCA 8 is rendered using the XML on this page. My next thought was that I’d use the ChangeDetection site to monitor the XML page. No such luck, they don’t support XML.

Writing something myself

A differences program isn’t hard to write, so I created my own in a public github repository. It stores a copy of the “current” data for each exam it follows and checks for differences. (I have it running as a Jenkins periodic build so it checks for updates once a day.) I considered using Travis CI since it supports Java/Maven. However, Travis doesn’t yet support periodic builds. There is a third party site that can trigger your builds for you, but CodeRanch has a perfectly good Jenkins server. And since one of the goals of this project is to be able to announce certification changes on a timely basis in the forums, it seems reasonable to run it there.

How do you find out if there is a change?

For significant changes, we tend to mention them in the relevant certification forum. For the OCA 8 exam, we will also list objective changes on the book page. You can also look at the text files for each exam on github. The last modified date shows the last change. You can also click on the file to see the history/diffs to see what changed and approximately cool. You could even use the ChangeDetection service on the github pages since they aren’t XML. For example, this page is for the OCA 8.

If there is an exam you’d find useful to be tracked and isn’t already, please add a comment on this blog post.

Technologies used

  1. Maven
  2. Selenium (a tiny bit)
  3. HTML Parser
  4. JUnit/Parameterized test

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