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NI software engineering, advanced arch courses worthwhile?


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#1 MarkCG

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 01:50 AM

Hi all,

I got my CLD and now I want to get the CLA. But I work as a contractor and can't sweettalk my employer into dropping a 2-3 thousand dollars on training.

So I'm thinking of heading down to Austin from Dallas and taking the next "software engineering"
and "advanced architectures" and possibly the LVOOP course.

However, they are $1200 each (900 for the web version... meh). I want to think carefully about spending my hard earned cash.

So I wanted to ask here if anyone had taken this courses and if so, what they thought of them. Did you learn a lot? Were the instructors good? Who paid? I think classroom instruction can be very valuable because you can ask questions far more easily and directly and understand the material faster.. if you have the right instructors. What don't want is some overpriced glorified powerpoint presentation.

What are your opinions?

#2 Jordan Kuehn

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 03:49 AM

I've read through the manuals for the advanced courses (took the training for the lower ones) and they had some very useful information, but from what I've seen in the CLA exam it may not directly corrolate. The ones I've read are likely from 2009 though. My best guess is you'd learn a lot, but still have work to do to prepare for the CLA. (note I'm only CLD right now. I'll probably take the CLA when it's time for recert)
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#3 Aristos Queue

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 12:25 AM

I helped write the OO course, so take my comments with a grain of salt... of course I'm going to say it's worth it. :-)

The course is 2 days. Day one focuses on design; Day two focuses on implementation. You work your way through designing a single application, working from a customer specification and identifying the classes that will be needed to do the project, and then you turn to implementing it, how that works in LabVIEW and the tools that are available to edit, debug and deploy the app. It's dense -- no question about that. I wish we could have made it three days so we could've added a little bit more breathing room and a few other topics, but at two days, a lot more customers can afford the time away from work, so it's more accessible.

As for whether it helps with the CLA... the best prep for the CLA is still 5 years of actually architecting code. You do not need any OO knowledge to pass the CLA, though you are welcome to use OO in your architecture when you do the CLA if that's the architecture you think fits best.

Edited by Aristos Queue, 16 January 2012 - 12:27 AM.


#4 soupy

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 05:21 PM

the big benefit to the classes is the ability to interact with NI personnel. you get a chance to ask those misc questions that aren't openly addressed in the forums. priceless! I personally squeeze every minute out of those guys that i can.

I personally don't think that the class manuals teach much that can't be found in other existing documentation. of course, if you're looking to learn a particular skill, you'll learn it much faster in the class. If you don't need to lean it quickly, just casually research it and integrate it into your current projects.

I don't think that taking classes are going to make you an excessively better programmer. You can't buy experience.

I'd say you should focus on small projects to try out new ideas. Make sure that you are somewhat familiar with every labview primitive and stock library. You should be continually advancing. I'm a firm believer that when you look at code you authored 6 months ago you should say "Whoah! WTF was i thinking? That could have been done better!" In order to write good code, you gotta write bad code.

Disclaimer: I have 5 years of LV experience. I don't have any certifications (except CLAD) because my company values experience over certificates.

#5 Val Brown

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 06:52 PM

I found the course to be good but I agree that the most important value of the course is the contact it provides you with knowledgeable users and instructors who can help by providing their expertise and experience. My disclaimer is that I currently have no LV certifications because my company is basically me, I don't need to present qualifications re: my programming to others for vetting (because I don't consult on LV). But I have been using LV since 98. So I've seen a lot of versions....
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#6 ShaunR

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 08:09 PM

Disclaimer: I have 5 years of LV experience. I don't have any certifications (except CLAD) because my company values experience over certificates.

My disclaimer is that I currently have no LV certifications because my company is basically me, I don't need to present qualifications re: my programming to others for vetting (because I don't consult on LV). But I have been using LV since 98. So I've seen a lot of versions....

I haven't had any certifications for about 10 years now. There's plenty of code and entire applications I've written out there if people wish to judge my abilities (or not as the case may be). CVs and certs are no substitute for "been there, done that, look at the code". However, in the absence of such, they are the only measure.

Edited by ShaunR, 16 January 2012 - 08:10 PM.

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#7 MarkCG

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 08:53 PM

Thanks for all the feedback. It sounds like they are worthwhile, especially if there are hands on exercises and good instructors. I think I will definitely take software engineering and the OO course in person. The advanced architecture seems to be mostly stuff I've been doing already... state machines and QSMs? Yawn. I'll get the course manuals. What I've REALLY wanted to use and understand LVOOP and use more advanced architectures like AQ's Actor Framework.

I'd like to experiment more at work to learn new concepts, but the nature of my job is not such that I can do that very easily. So I'm not progressing at the speed I want. I agree that classroom work is no substitute for experience as several of you have expressed. I think this sort of training can be valuable so you can avoid having "Y years of experience, repeated X times" as opposed to "X*Y years of experience".

One thing I can say is that obtaining the CLD was one of the best investments I've made. It's gotten me far better and more potential gigs. I like to work contract, and recruiters are non-technical and much happier to seeing a qualification than listening to you talk about about what you did, since they don't have a clue what any of it means anyways :) . Once you're past the gatekeepers, you can actually talk turkey with the engineering manager.

I want to work on my own as a consultant like Val Brown and ShaunR as soon as possible. I think the CLA will go a long way towards that goal. I'm still relatively inexperienced (graduated in 2007) and don't have the professional network and body of work that they do. But the CLA will help me get the gigs where I can work on big projects and develop that experience.

Edited by Sergeant Manners, 16 January 2012 - 08:53 PM.


#8 ShaunR

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 09:17 PM

I want to work on my own as a consultant like Val Brown and ShaunR as soon as possible.

Consultant? Me? Naaah. I work for a living ;)

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#9 MarkCG

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 09:23 PM

:lol: I don't know why I assumed that... no offense intended !

#10 Val Brown

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 09:40 PM

Consultant? Me? Naaah. I work for a living ;)


Right, me too. I'm President of the company and Chief Software Architect but we only produce one system (two versions of that) and I don't consult for anyone else on LV. But thanks for the compliment. :thumbup1:
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#11 Roderic

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 08:47 AM

I think NI courses are a good choice if you want to learn on a specific topic. As an instructor, I can say that students really benefit from the courses. But if you are to pay from your own hard earned money, I'll suggest you browse on the internet and find all the info you need. Most of the training material are available on NI website. I know it would be better to take a course, but it's a lot of money if your company does'nt pay for that.

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#12 SteveChandler

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 11:51 PM

I really enjoyed the Advanced Architectures class in Austin. Nancy Hollenback is an excellent instructor if you are lucky enough to get her! However advanced is relative and it sounds like you wouldn't get as much out of this as I did.

AQ, you should add the Actor Framework to one of the courses! Or maybe a separate class on just that. Maybe at least an excellent webcast like the LVOOP webcast...
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#13 Aristos Queue

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 05:42 AM

> AQ, you should add the Actor Framework to one of the courses! Or maybe a separate class on just that. Maybe at least an excellent webcast like the LVOOP webcast...

Allen Smith and I just did the AF intro in a web cast a couple weeks ago.
http://zone.ni.com/w...oc/p/id/wv-3101

Edited by Aristos Queue, 18 January 2012 - 05:44 AM.

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#14 Yair

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 12:04 PM

...What I've REALLY wanted to use and understand LVOOP and use more advanced architectures like AQ's Actor Framework.
...
...I think the CLA will go a long way towards that goal.


There is another thing hiding in here - NI has a relatively new tradition of holding annual CLA summits, which are supposed to be both free and advanced (but you have to be a CLA to attend). My understanding is that this is exactly the kind of thing you want and will allow you to interact with other CLAs. I believe the next one is in a couple of months, so I don't know if you'll have time to certify before that, but if you do, you should probably take that into consideration as well.

#15 crelf

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 04:36 PM

CVs and certs are no substitute for "been there, done that, look at the code". However, in the absence of such, they are the only measure.

True! ..and if you're gainfully employed in a stable position, then often certifications aren't as important to you. That said, as you suggested, certifications are often much more important if you're either applying for a job or promotion where the hiring decision is in the hands of someone who doesn't know you or your code. Especially in a climate where hirers get far more CVs than places available, you'll find that they often have to filter to the best few CVs, and, more often than not, certifications are a big part of that filter.

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#16 Stagg54

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 09:29 PM

I helped write the OO course, so take my comments with a grain of salt... of course I'm going to say it's worth it. :-)

The course is 2 days. Day one focuses on design; Day two focuses on implementation. You work your way through designing a single application, working from a customer specification and identifying the classes that will be needed to do the project, and then you turn to implementing it, how that works in LabVIEW and the tools that are available to edit, debug and deploy the app. It's dense -- no question about that. I wish we could have made it three days so we could've added a little bit more breathing room and a few other topics, but at two days, a lot more customers can afford the time away from work, so it's more accessible.

As for whether it helps with the CLA... the best prep for the CLA is still 5 years of actually architecting code. You do not need any OO knowledge to pass the CLA, though you are welcome to use OO in your architecture when you do the CLA if that's the architecture you think fits best.


That must be fairly recent, because three or four years ago when I took the course it was based on Endevo's course and it was horrible. I sure the course you've designed is much better.


Disclaimer: I have 5 years of LV experience. I don't have any certifications (except CLAD) because my company values experience over certificates.


I work with several people who have many years of experience and still write crap code. You don't need a certificate to write good code, but having a certificate proves that you've written good code at least once.

I would rather have someone with a small amount of experience writing good code, than a lot of experience writing bad code.

#17 Stagg54

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Posted 08 May 2012 - 06:35 PM

Just took the CLA-R last week and I can tell you definitely want to at least read the book and take the practice exam before you take the CLA-R. I'm sure its possible to pass without doing that, but it would be very difficult.

#18 MarkCG

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Posted 23 May 2012 - 02:21 PM

I am all signed up for the June 7 software engineering course in Austin Texas. Hopefully at least one more person will sign up for the class So it can take place .I'll let you guys know how it is.