If you could hear me say what I’m writing here, you’d hear excitement in my voice.
I was going to use this blog post to say how much that meant to me, but I’ve already told her, and you just need to know that I still haven’t come down from the high. Being an otherwise random blogger and being used as a source from a journalist of Mary-Jo Foley’s repute is simply an absolute thrill.
But I won’t tell you that, because as so often happens when I post something that someone finds questionable, the shit starts flying. Quite common are a few themes, like “You’re breaching NDA!” or “Yeah, but he’s only spreading rumors” or even “Microsoft should sue him!”. It took only a few minutes from Mary-Jo’s article came out until I started hearing (and reading) comments like these. It took a couple of hours before someone publicly started complaining to Mary-Jo for using me as a source.
So, instead, I’ll tell you about how I get my information and why I don’t always cite my sources. And no, it’s not always to my benefit.
Read The F*cking Manual!
The first and primary source for SharePoint 2013 information right now is the Microsoft Office Protocol Documentation. It’s just over 400 documents, and I haven’t counted exactly, but I’ll estimate around 10,000 pages, detailing the core protocols used in Office and SharePoint.
With the exception of around 130 Office documents, I’ve read most of that, not necessarily in detail, but at least enough to have a fairly good idea of what SharePoint 2013 will be, to the extent Microsoft has documented it.
If you want to do so too, just go ahead and download from the above link. I’ll wait right here. If you combine that with a good general knowledge of how SharePoint works under the hood, you should have a really good picture too.
It took me around 200 hours the first two weeks, just reading that. I haven’t even bothered counting hours since that, but I read every day, for several hours.
But… You Wrote about SharePoint Designer 2013!
Yes, I did, didn’t I. Well, let me explain.
I get a lot of tips, feedback, and requests. Sometimes, those tips are really good, and I speak to the sender about citing their information in a blog post (or now, in the SharePoint 2013 Beta series). Sometimes, they accept, but more often they know how much shit I get for posting ‘secret’ information that they say I can post the stuff without giving them the credit at all. In fact, some people outright deny me from mentioning them in any setting, but still want the information out there.
People want to share, but they’re scared of the shit people will say about them, so they come to me, because I couldn’t care less what people think of me.
For SharePoint Designer 2013, I received an email from someone I know very well, who had downloaded a leaked version of an early build of Office 15. What they sent me was a list of options in the tools of SharePoint Designer 15 (as it is called, I believe).
You see, back in 2009, when everyone also thought I was posting NDA information, I did the same thing. I was invited (by Microsoft) to attend the early beta testing of Office 2010, and when I got my hands on SharePoint Designer 2010, I did just that; go through the possible menu options and decude features from what I found. I also wrote how I did it, and this person to which I’m referring read that back then and did the same now.
So, someone sent me a list of changes between SharePoint Designer 2010 and 15, accompanied by a couple of screenshots (which I have not posted) but specifically requested that I did not post their name. This person is not under any NDA either, they were simply curious about Office 15 and got in touch. Yeah, they may have acted unethically to acquire that information, but I’m sure there are far worse things people do to get information (Mary-Jo even mentions talking to ‘someone in the know’ that she uses as a source).
The point still stands: the community has a lot more information that’s simply not being shared because people see the crap that gets tossed every time this subject comes up.
So, What about 2009?
In 2009, I got a ton of manure delivery by no other than Microsoft themselves, after announcing a similar series as the SharePoint 2013 series, but then targeted at SP 2010. I got in touch with them, and after they had read the issue (which they couldn’t be bothered to do before publicly slandering my name), they admitted that I wasn’t posting anything not public, even if they complained that I ‘leaked’ information about sandbox solutions that I had deduced from the public SDK.
Because, essentially, that’s what I did then too. Microsoft published an early software development kit and I read that, every single page, and distilled the information into a more readable form. There was much less information available back then, but the SDK was more comprehensive than the one that’s been published for SharePoint 15.
A while later, Microsoft, probably by accident, gave me non-NDA access to SharePoint. I’m not going to discuss the details here, but suffice to say, a few people in the community know the full story and even Microsoft employees have, albeit in private, confirmed my side of the story. When I tried to clear up the misunderstanding and rectify the situation, however, Microsoft didn’t give up and tried to stab me in the back again. I was seriously pissed and decided that if they had given me the bits, I should damn well use them too. I had the bits, legally from Microsoft, but I didn’t sign or agree to any NDA, and I still didn’t post that much ‘secret’ information.
So, Any NDA Information Now?
No! I do not have, nor will I ever agree to, any NDA with Microsoft. I do not rely on anonymous sources (although I would have had a few scoops over the years if I had, darn it). I will not act on information revealed to me in breach of someone else’s NDA.
I have not posted such information now or in the past.
I will, however, continue to read and write about what Microsoft has published and is freely available to anyone. I will continue to use sources that are not breaching their NDA when giving me tips or information, and if they so wish, I will respect their wishes to not be the target of a hate attack from certain parts of the community.
And no, Microsoft won’t sue me, because I’m not doing anything illegal. Nobody are as eager to send complaints as the legal department in Redmond or their minions, but they also know when they don’t have a case. That’s why I can taunt with things like ‘So sue me!’ because there’s nothing to sue over.
Yeah, I offer what I learn to people for money, but I’ve calculated my hourly pay to be around US$4, and that’s just for the reading part, not for writing and all the other work that goes into this. So no, I’m not making money off this; I’m saying no to client work to do this, so I’m effectively losing money every day.
Think that’s fun? Well, you’re more than welcome to join in, just pick up the documents and start reading. We can talk more in a couple of weeks.
I Has Information!
If you have valuable information, blog about it! Send me the link and I’ll reference it to help you promote it. Heck, if it’s good, I’ll include it in the next SharePoint 2013 Beta issue and send people from there too.
If that’s not an option for you, you can send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If I know you and/or can verify that the information is correct, and you are not breaching any NDAs to get the information, then I can post it. If you want credits, I’ll put them in H1 if that’s what you want, or I’ll protect your anonymity to the day I die, if that’s what you want.
This isn’t a pitch to get tips, though, and I highly encourage anyone who has useful information to post that themselves. If you need assistance in discussing what you find first, I’m all ears (I have two, at least).