Brevity is the Soul of Wit (But Not the CWDP Study Guide)

The CWDP Study Guide was recently released. The certification is valuable and the study guide is great as a reference, but as a book it is just about unreadable.

Certified Wireless Design Professional (CWDP) is a new certification from the CWNP Program, a group that creates and manages vendor-neutral WLAN certifications. The CWNP Program has long had a Certified Wireless Network Administrator (CWNA) and Certified Wireless Security Professional (CWSP) certifications, and here in 2011 they are adding the CWDP and Certified Wireless Analysis Professional (CWAP) certifications.

The spirit of these certifications is that WiFi professionals often work in very specific disciplines, so the CWNP Program has a certification track for most industry professionals. Work for an equipment vendor? You probably want CWAP. An integrator? Probably CWDP. The NSA? CPP. (I jest, I jest. And if any NSA people read this blog, let me request the pain-free truth serum in advance.)

The CWDP exam is the next exam to be officially released (next Tuesday, to be exact), but the study guide is already available. The study guide does what it's supposed to do in covering all exam objectives, BUT IT'S NINE HUNDRED PAGES LONG! That is crazy. You simply do not need 900 pages to explain how WiFi networks need to be designed.

Admittedly, I had a negative perception of this book before I started reading it due to its length, but after reading it I must say that I was exactly right. The book seems to cover every contingency the authors could think of (business needs, building types, applications, 802.11 standards, mobility, etc.), but it ends up being overwhelming. The book is great as a reference because you get all the equations, estimates and calculations you'd ever need. As a guide for designing a WLAN in the real world, however, the book needed to be about 1/3 the size.

One of my favorite books I've ever read is Story by Robert McKee. I love this book for many reasons, but most prominently because it emphasizes form, not formula. It covers what storytelling for movies/television/theater is and why it works rather than breaking down every possible way to plot a reveal for your second act midpoint. (And if you understand that last sentence, you should be reading John August's blog instead of mine.) It takes a topic (storytelling) that is brobdingnagian in relation to the topic of WiFi design, and covers it in half the number of pages. That is what I was hoping for from the CWDP Study Guide. Instead, I got a book that contains so much information that it is a must-have for WiFi designers and surveyors, but also unusable as anything but reference material.


  1. As it is primarily being sold as a guide for the CWDP exam, do you think it will make it difficult to take this exam due to the overwhelming amount of information?

    Also, how quickly did you knock it off? :)

  2. If I recall correctly I read the book in 4-5 hours. Admittedly I did skim some parts and I did not go through any review questions. I have yet to sit the exam.

    I think it is too much for the exam, but it's tough to say without having taken the test. My main thing was that I wanted a more readable book. Designing WLANs is an important topic and I was hoping that this would be a definitive guide rather than an exhaustive reference.

  3. Ben, I have to disagree with you. While the book is extremely large I found it smooth flowing and very readable. Having sat, and passed, the exam, I can say not only is the book NOT too much, it actually falls a little short. I agree with your statement that the authors attempted to cover every contingency but the exam does also.

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