PowerShell is a tool that if adopted can be used to help automate and standardize processes in your Windows and SQL Server environment (among other things). This blog series is intended to show you some of the basics (not all of them) that will get you up and running with PowerShell. I say not all of them, because there are areas in PowerShell that you can go pretty deep in, just like SQL Server. I want to just give you the initial tools to get you on your way to discovering the awesomeness within PowerShell. I decided to go with a Greek theme, and just break this series up into pillars. In this first blog post I just wanted to show you the tools that are available to allow you to interact with PowerShell itself.
Pillar 1: Interacting
Interacting with PowerShell is most commonly issuing commands directly on the command line interface (CLI), the step above that would be building out a script that contains multiple commands. The first two options are available “out-of-the-box” on a Windows machine that has PowerShell installed. After this, you have a few third party options available to you that I will point out.
This is the command prompt (or console as some may call it) that most folks will spend their day-to-day life entering what are referred to as “one-liners”. This is the CLI for PowerShell. You can access this in Windows by going through the Start Menu, or just type it into the Run prompt.
This is the PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment and is included in PowerShell 2.0 and up. This tool gives you the ability to have a script editor and CLI in one place. You can find out more about this tool and the various features that come with each version here. You can access this similar to the same way you would PowerShell.exe. In Windows Server 2008 R2 and above though this it is a Windows Feature that has to be added or activated before you can use it.
- Visual Studio (VS) 2013 Community Edition + PowerShell Tools for Visual Studio 2013
VS 2013 Community is the free version of Visual Studio that includes the equivalent functionality of Visual Studio Professional Edition. Microsoft opened up the door for many things when they did this, the main one being that you can now develop PowerShell scripts along side your C# or other .NET projects. Adam Driscoll (PowerShell MVP) developed and released an add-on specifically for VS 2013 Community that you can get from GitHub, here.
- Third party ISE/Editors
The following are the main players in the third party offerings for PowerShell ISE or script editors. I have tried all of them before, but since they only exist on the machine you install them on I tend to stick with what is in Windows. They have their place and if you begin to develop PowerShell heavily (e.g. full project solutions) they can be very useful in the management of your scripts:
This was a fairly short post that just started out with showing you what your options are to start working and interacting with PowerShell. PowerShell is a fun tool to work with and discover new things that it can do for you. In this series I will typically stick with using the CLI (PowerShell.exe) for examples.
One more thing to point out is the versions of PowerShell currently released (as of this blog post) are 2.0, 3.0, and 4.0. The basic commands I am going to go over will work in any version, but where specific nuances exist between each version I will try to point out if needed.