January 28, 2022How to Succeed in the AWS Certified Developer Associate Exam

Passing the AWS Certified Developer Associate Certification demonstrates your proficiency and skills as an AWS developer. Let’s dive in.

It’s time to upgrade your arsenal of technical skills and ready yourself for the year ahead. If you’re thinking about starting a career in AWS (Amazon Web Services), or already have years of experience as a cloud developer, you may be considering the AWS Certified Developer Associate Exam. 

The AWS Certified Developer Associate Certification opens up far more career opportunities. In this article, we’ll highlight the critical skills you should master to help you pass this certification test. 

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Before you begin: the basics of the AWS certified developer exam

Before we begin, you should know that the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner Exam is preferred for those new to the cloud or those who haven’t had much experience in AWS.

The AWS platform offers more than 160 different services, and gaining mastery in AWS can take time. Passing the AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification will ensure that you have a good understanding of the AWS ecosystem. 

This knowledge, in turn, will help build a strong foundation in AWS. That said, let’s switch our focus back to the developer exam and understand its main skill areas.

Developing serverless applications with the AWS Cloud

AWS developers write code that interacts with different AWS services. As an AWS Certified Developer, your ability to write resilient and failproof code is paramount. It is essential to be well-versed in using APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), CLI (Command Line Interface), and SDKs (Software Development Kits).

In recent years, AWS has been focusing on serverless computing. With serverless, you only pay for what you use. More importantly, it allows companies to reduce infrastructure and maintenance costs. What is more, it helps them speed up the time to market. So, serverless is a clear focus of the AWS Certified Developer Exam.

In the AWS Lambda & Serverless Architecture Bootcamp, I teach serverless computing on AWS from scratch. Some of the serverless AWS services I cover in this course are AWS Lambda, DynamoDB, API Gateway, and the AWS Serverless Application Model (SAM).

  • With AWS Lambda, you can run virtual functions in the cloud without having to worry about setting up servers or managing them. You upload the code you want to run to AWS Lambda, and voila, your code can now run on-demand and scale automatically.
  • Amazon DynamoDB is a robust serverless backend offered by AWS. DynamoDB is a highly-scalable database with single-digit millisecond performance at any scale. Further, it being serverless, you only pay for what you use.
  • In addition, the Amazon API Gateway service lets you build APIs. These APIs connect your serverless backend with your frontend applications. 
  • Lastly, AWS SAM is the framework that ties all these services together. It helps you streamline and speed up your development process.

To take the AWS Certified Developer Exam, you should have familiarity with all these tools and more.

Optimization and scaling

AWS places enormous importance on the optimization and efficiency of your code. You should know how to optimize the performance of your applications using AWS services. It is worth exploring AWS services such as Amazon ElastiCache, AWS CloudFront, Lambda@Edge, and Amazon API Gateway cache for the exam. Focus on learning how these services can help speed up your applications and improve their performance.

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Monitoring and debugging AWS applications

AWS certification exams consistently test your knowledge of using various monitoring and debugging tools. The AWS Certified Developer Exam is no different. Hence, I would recommend exploring the services such as Amazon CloudWatch and AWS X-Ray.

Amazon CloudWatch is central to monitoring and logging across the AWS service landscape. A good hand on using CloudWatch will undoubtedly help you pass your certification exam. In addition, it will also make you an efficient AWS developer in the long run.

Furthermore, the AWS X-Ray service helps you detect and correct errors in applications that use microservices architecture. Again, this implies a significant move towards building applications as a web of smaller and manageable code units. This approach improves maintainability and scalability as opposed to building one complex application. 

As each smaller code unit performs a single well-defined function, a typical microservices-based application will likely involve hundreds or even thousands of microservices. These microservices work independently. Tracing data movement across different microservices can often be challenging, and AWS X-Ray comes to our rescue here. It allows you to build a graphical map outlining the requests across your application to visualize and identify any errors quickly.

Deploying and debugging with the AWS Developer Tools

The AWS Certified Developer exam also tests your understanding of the AWS Developer Tools. These tools allow you to deploy your code in AWS using CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous delivery) pipelines. CI/CD will enable you to streamline the delivery of your code changes efficiently and reliably, focusing on process-oriented automation.

AWS offers several CI/CD services, such as AWS CodeCommit, CodeBuild, CodeDeploy, and CodePipeline: 

  • We use AWS CodeCommit as a central repository to store all our code and its changes. 
  • CodeBuild and CodeDeploy allow for build and deployment functionality.
  • The CodePipeline lets you automate the entire process from committing your code to the central repository to deploying it to production.

In my serverless course, I walk you through implementing CI/CD processes using these developer tools step by step.

Another essential service you’ll need to be well-versed with is AWS Elastic Beanstalk. It allows you to deploy your applications on the AWS cloud computing in a secure and scalable way with built-in version control.

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Developing with security in mind

AWS developers have to write code keeping AWS security best practices in mind. As I mentioned earlier, you already have a solid base on AWS security best practices if you are an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner. You should have years of hands-on experience managing AWS apps and writing code to pass the AWS Certified Developer Exam.

From the AWS Certified Developer perspective, knowledge of specific security topics is vital. These include data encryption, making authenticated calls to AWS services using the SDK, assuming AWS IAM (Identity and Access Management) roles, and implementing application-level access control features like sign-in functionality.

Study how different AWS services encrypt data at rest and in transit. Learn how different data encryption approaches work. These include client-side encryption, server-side encryption, as well as envelope encryption. Explore how to set up data encryption on the AWS platform using the AWS KMS service.

Amazon Cognito is another important serverless service to learn and practice. It allows us to add access control functionality in our web and mobile apps. Practice adding authentication and authorization to your application using Cognito. I have covered this with end-to-end hands-on labs in my serverless course.

The key to becoming an AWS Certified Developer

In sum, the key to success in the AWS certified developer exam is to have a good grasp of serverless on AWS. Use the AWS SAM and CI/CD tools, keep the AWS security best practices in mind, and you’ll be on your way to becoming an AWS certified developer. Later, you may even be able to become an AWS Solutions Architect. 

If you want to prepare in advance, you can find an AWS training center or perform online hands-on labs. You can also focus on developing and maintaining your own AWS apps, attend a course or a bootcamp, and follow tutorials online. Once you can easily pass a practice exam, you should be ready for your training and certification test.
If you’re still building your experience with AWS, you don’t want to start with the AWS Certified Developer Exam. Instead, you should begin with the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner test.

“This article was originally posted on Udemy’s Blog: How to Succeed in the AWS Certified Developer Associate Exam

Riyaz Sayyad

Riyaz Sayyad

Co-founder and Software Developer

Riyaz is an AWS Certified Database Specialist, Developer, and an expert IT Consultant with over 17 years of experience in the IT industry.