CNET - please do your research before opening your big mouth!

Posted on 5/23/2008 @ 1:47 PM in #SharePoint by | Feedback | 3243 views

This is not the first time I have called out CNET's bluff, and it won't be the last.

I was mildly tickled to read this claim by a budding CNET journalist (?!).

Matt Assay, seems to indicate that users are going to find themselves in a really bad place a few years down the road, because they would put all their content inside SharePoint, and thus be locked into SharePoint, because apparently, there is no way to get content out of SharePoint.

Quoted -

"But if Microsoft really wants to do its customers a favor, it will open up its repository to make it as easy to get content out of the repository as it is to get it into the repository."

So I guess, if I was a Microsoft SharePoint customer, I should be darned scared .. because I am putting all my files into this blackhole, and I have no way of getting them out, right? Oh my! Hailstorm all over again.

Well, heck I'll do Microsoft's customers a favor. Here are 3 lines of code that lets you pull a file out of SharePoint. 

   1:  using (SPSite site = new SPSite(siteURL))
   2:  {
   3:      SPWeb web = site.OpenWeb();
   4:      SPDocumentLibrary dox = web.Lists["Documents"] as SPDocumentLibrary;
   5:      byte[] fileBytes = dox.Items[0].File.OpenBinary();
   6:  }

Now that wasn't so hard, was it?

In fact, I would be amazed  to find any half way decent SharePoint developer, who would argue that the above code is too complex to handle.

So the real question is, can you trust CNET's judgment and bias against Microsoft?

I never have, but it is still amusing. So is Woody Molly.

Added Later: There is a tiny disclaimer at the bottom, that Matt Assay works for a competitor of SharePoint called Alfresco. I guess I am not surprised to see his bias - even though what he is claiming is 200% pure lies. But should CNET really encourage such lies on it's website? Does a disclaimer free them of any moral obligations? What do you think!?

Sound off but keep it civil:

Older comments..

On 5/23/2008 3:57:29 PM Roger Jennings said ..
Reputable print publications and news services have editors/facts checkers for self-originated, commissioned, and advertiser puff pieces. I think major news sites, such as CNET should be held to the same standards as AP and Reuters. Thus, a disclaimer doesn't relieve CNET from its journalistic obligation to verify facts and sources.

Also, it takes only a minute or two to extract SharePoint lists to an Access database, which you can then export as XML, HTML, spreadsheet, CSV, or whatever or upload to a client/server RDBMS.


On 5/23/2008 5:34:53 PM Sahil Malik said ..
Exactly my point!

On 5/24/2008 7:01:12 AM Tony Jones said ..
I think where the reporter and even the likes of Gartner are going with this is related to the OOTB flexibility. I've worked with a lot of Web CM systems and MOSS 2007 has been of the biggest pains in the *ss to work with. I rolled out the Kroger MOSS 2007 design and it definitely requires some "understanding".

To Sahil's point - if you take a little time to look into the API and do some homework, content extraction can be quite simple. I guess the reporter has never heard of Documentum.

Some of the other ECMs/portal platforms may only seem more flexible because of their simple publshing capabilities. Interwoven is a beast, but they have Content Deployment and extraction down to a science (but that front end inflexibility needs some help).

I love MOSS, but I've been putting the smack down implementing as of late with Sitecore and it's strong integration capabilities with MOSS.

On 5/24/2008 7:53:07 AM Sahil Malik said ..
Tony -

Thanks for your balanced opinions.

I think I agree that working with MOSS requires significant understanding.

At the same time, I just don't think I can agree with the CNET guy's claim that getting content "out" of SharePoint is impossible/difficult.

Thanks for your comments.


On 5/26/2008 1:04:31 AM Venkateswara Rao said ..
When I run the same code I am getting authentication exception.

At now my share point uses form authentication.

Can you show me how I have to say the same in code. i.e. How to say sharepoint to make use of XXXX username and YYYY password to work.

On 5/26/2008 2:14:59 AM Sahil Malik said ..
Venkateswara Rao,

Extend the site on a different port using Windows auth, and target that site instead.

There are instructions on how to do this on the web.


On 6/2/2008 3:01:09 AM mushroom said ..
SharePoint is a pain to develop in. Let's see some code to upload a file and set metadata using web services.

By the way, I agree that Matt Asay is too close to Alfresco to be objective about his company and competitors.

On 6/2/2008 3:56:51 AM David Walker said ..
This isn't the first time this piece of crap article was posted. I read it about 6 months or so ago. I remember specifically, since it was the first time I had ever heard of Alfresco. See my blog post for more details, plus some links on a very fair comparision between Alfresco and SharePoint.

On 6/2/2008 11:05:57 AM Mike said ..
Partly agree. Content is not about binary files only. Content is also about the associated set of metadatas (if not, a shared drive is good enough).

On 6/2/2008 12:28:20 PM Sahil Malik said ..
Well you can pull that metadata out too!

On 6/13/2008 1:57:58 AM Ashish Mohta said ..
This is simply stupid. How can CNET imagine that any software will be designed to just take in data and can not be given back. If that's the case then it will just defy the whole point of application.

I had just started working on Sharepoint and we do all retrieval of documents and meta dat through API. You just need to see where it is.

on the Alfresco site i found :

Please note this is a time-limited trial and by installing the software you are agreeing to our Enterprise Trial license, specifically that you will uninstall it in 30 days if you decide to not purchase the Alfresco Enterprise Network.

Thats open source ? I still need to buy it...CRAP IT OFF.

Personally I see its just a war against Microsoft. I am not saying because I am big fan of it but look at the products they give and their usability. Its worth buying it. And If you buy their multi-license schemes it will cost penny if you do a nice business

On 6/16/2008 6:46:06 PM J Michael said ..
I am not convinced with the three lines of code as that only applies if the code is sitting on the sharepoint server, which is highly unlikely and not really open/flexible.

I have to agreem with mushroom... lets see you post code using a web service if it is even possible.

On 6/17/2008 10:34:39 AM Sahil Malik said ..
Michael -

>> lets see you post code using a web service if it is even possible

Problem description: Using a web service to upload a document and set metadata.

This is incredibly easy to achieve. I think you need to attend one of my trainings :).


On 6/17/2008 1:29:39 PM J Michael said ..
I would love to take you training, infact that is how I found your blog. But I would still like to see you post the code: Consider it a try before I buy. ;)

On 6/17/2008 2:36:38 PM Sahil Malik said ..
Michael -

Thats fair, but I have way too much work on my hands right now to offer try/buy. Not saying down the road I won't - if I find time I'll blog about this. There is plenty I have put on my site for try before you buy scenario though.

Anyway, if you're serious, contact me (


On 6/18/2008 8:22:08 PM Steve Walker said ..
There is a project on codeplex that provides the web service functionality you guys are wanting posted here:

Wouldn't call it feature complete but it gets the job done !!!

On 6/19/2008 10:24:12 AM Sahil Malik said ..
Thanks Steve!