Tuesday, July 19, 2011


So I’m going to go way off the data track for a few posts.  I’ve been working on a data integration project to better integrate our customer’s and our products.  As a SAAS company, I don’t need to write polished MSI installer for public consumption, but I do have to write an installer that will allow our IT staff to deploy and update thousands of instances used by our customers, and as my boss likes to put it, “works like gravity”.  It needs to have minimal touch points and minimal configuration to reduce the risk points. 
I considered MSIs, batch files, .NET apps, and a combination of the above with various command line utilities.  Ultimately, I decided that it was finally time to learn PowerShell.
After a headache inducing introduction, I’ve become quite comfortable with and somewhat enamored of it, for certain, sysadmin types of tasks, to the point that I’ve written initial versions of PowerShell modules in C# for the application to help simplify the automation/scripting of setting up integration configurations.  Although I didn’t completely get away from MSIs and command line utilities, PowerShell did eliminate the need for some and was able to tie the rest together much more nicely than would be possible with the old batch file.
I am by no means yet an expert, and based on some articles I've scanned I've barely scratched the surface, but over the next few blog entries will share some of the pleasure and pain I’ve experienced in working with it.
A couple of things that will greatly help you to start with.  First is Get-Help.  typing this followed by any cmdlet name will get you a brief description of the cmdlet, it’s syntax, list of arguments and related cmdlets.  Adding the –detailed argument to the Get-Help cmdlet will return detailed information on each of the arguments as well as examples.
If you don’t quite remember the name of the cmdlet, you can type in part of it and Get-Help will return a list of cmdlets containing that string.  e.g. searching on “Session” will return all of the session cmdlets.  Helpful when you forget that Get-PSSession has a “PS” in it.
Of course the next thing that will help is Google, but if you want to skip that there’s a couple sites that Google has taken me to several times:

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