Thoughts on the Acquia Certified Frontend Specialist - Drupal 8 Exam
Updated: Jul 20, 2022
Wednesday, June 03, 2020
Another milestone achieved! I took the Frontend Specialist Exam on 29th May 2020 and was successfully able to crack it. There are a couple of reasons why I'm sharing my thoughts about just this exam and not others (backend specialist and Certified Developer).
With this, I complete the requirements to become a Drupal 8 Grand Master
"Frontend" has been my weak point and is the biggest area of improvement for me.
Knowing this, I took the challenge to learn, improve and achieve something that reflects the progress towards frontend development.
Just to give you a bit of background on "Scheduling the exam". I've been planning to complete this certification by the end of May 2020, registered for this exam on 4th May and decided to give the exam on 29th May. I was sceptical about this date and was pretty much sure that I will reschedule the exam a week before. Also I'd already registered for a Udemy Course - "Guide to Complete Web development and Design" by Laurence Svekis (Link) to get a good level of understanding about CSS, JS and jQuery. Somehow, I started studying for the exam on 4th May itself. Started the Udemy course and kept practicing side by side on codepen.io (a great tool to try out frontend concepts.) Let's talk about preparations in detail in the next section. Preparation Since there were multiple areas to work upon to get a good level of understanding of frontend concepts. I bifurcated the complete course into 2 major sections:
Basic frontend development (HTML, CSS, JS and jQuery) - Focused majorly on css, js and jQuery.
Drupal 8 Theming Concepts.
Then, further divided these 2 areas into subtopics : HTML, CSS, JS and jQuery -
Styling a simple HTML page.
Performing basic JS and jQuery actions on the page above and practicing them on codepen.io
Drupal 8 Theming Concepts -
Creating a simple theme (with / without a base theme)
Defining and attaching/extending/overriding assets on the pages.
Writing preprocess functions in a way that could help me learn the priority of the preprocess hooks.
Learning from the Udemy course and integrating everything with the Drupal theme.
Building your own theme is the most important thing that should be done if you want to clear this exam. If you've already built a theme before or extensively worked upon creating custom templates, attaching/extending/overriding libraries, disabled aggregation using libraries.info.yml then you should be able to get through the Drupal related questions easily. Some of the important concepts to concentrate on -
Building a custom theme with/without a base theme.
Understanding the purpose of using different base themes (classy, stable or stark).
Creating/Extending/Overriding libraries (CSS and JS).
Aggregating these assets.
Twig functions & filters.
Twig syntax (basic if/else, how to filter content, loops in twig)
Some basic PHP Syntax like variable assignment and if else syntax
HTML 5 tags
CSS selector Specificity
Creating new Regions
Using regions from the base theme.
How to add custom theme settings.
Media Queries and Breakpoints module in Drupal 8
Using Responsive Image module in Drupal 8
Twig debugging mode
Extending twig templates
Difficulty level of the exam According to me the level of the exam is similar to the backend certification exam since frontend is my "area of improvement". To break it down further, I would say that the Drupal part of the exam is fairly easy if you are clear about Drupal Theming concepts but things get a little tricky when it comes to Core css, js and jQuery concepts. So if you're a backend developer like me, you should work upon brushing up your basic frontend skills and learn more about css, js and jQuery. Resources used to study
Udemy Course - https://www.udemy.com/course/complete-guide-to-front-end-web-development-and-design/
Acquia git book - https://acquia-academy.gitbook.io/study-guide-acquia-certified-front-end-specialist/study-guide
Drupal 8 Theming docs - https://www.drupal.org/docs/theming-drupal
Drupalize me - Drupal 8 Theming
Google search (jQuery online test, CSS online test, JS online test, Twig online test, HTML online test)
Conclusion In the end, I would like to say that I'm really happy that I was able to make it through this exam successfully. There were a few questions related to core theming concepts (css, js and jQuery) that made me feel a bit worried during the exam but I was really confident about Drupal related questions. One good thing about these exams is that they test your knowledge based upon the application of concept rather than just asking the straight forward questions. This is a great way to test yourself and find out your areas of improvement. I wish you all the best and hope that I was able to share some useful points that will help you get through the exam. :)