Monday, September 24, 2007

AJAX Technology and ITIL Practice Exams

One of the primary features that sets the ITIL Prime exam prep service apart from its competitors is the exam simulator offered on the site. For nearly all of the sites we found which offered ITIL practice exams, there was a general flaw with the way the actual exam simulator operated once the user signed up.

Many of the exam simulators we saw required a software download, which made us suspicious that some type of adware would be unknowingly installed on our computer. Other sites would present the entire ITIL exam in a single browser window, which is not really representative of the true life ITIL Foundation exam experience. And still others would simply offer a massive PDF file with a digital download of ITIL practice questions; which sort of negates the whole ITIL exam preparation experience.

So, being the self-proclaimed (ahem) resourceful techies that we are, we set about to develop a completely new ITIL exam simulator from the ground up. Since everyone on our team had sat for the ITIL Foundation exam at a major testing center, we knew exactly what types of functions the real life ITIL exam provided for its users. Primarily, the

ITIL Foundation exam environment allows for:

  • Back and forth navigation between ITIL Foundation exam questions
  • Marking of ITIL exam questions for further review before grading
  • A live timer, indicating how long until the ITIL exam would be automatically submitted
  • The ability to navigate back to any ITIL question (marked or otherwise) prior to completing the exam

Once we began the initial specification for ITIL Prime's exam simulator, we began to hit a wall. How could we reproduce these standardized exam features without forcing a software download by the user? Enter AJAX!

AJAX is a web technology that works with nearly all modern day browsers, and allows web content to load without a browser refresh. What this means, is that we would be able to control on-screen content (in this case, ITIL Foundation exam questions) without the need to reload your browser every time a new question gets pulled from the ITIL Prime database. After a month of prototyping the new ITIL practice exams with our hip new AJAX components, we were very happy with the results. Add some tweaks here, some optimizations there, and what you have now is one of the only exam simulators on the web which work without any plugins or additional software! Thanks to everyone for the positive feedback regarding the ITIL practice exam simulator, as well as the suggestions on new ways we can improve the overall experience; we'll be sure to keep everyone updated as new features are added.