Tuesday, November 16, 2010

PowerShell: Making it all happen

I was fielding some basic questions about ‘how do I’ in PowerShell when became aware of some things that seem to be happening around PowerShell.

First, it seems that many PowerShell users tend to disappear and may only reappear months later with dramatically newer and more sophisticated questions.  Where they go in the interim is still a mystery.  Perhaps they have gone to another dimension temporarily.

Second, the PowerShell user community on most Forums was very large a year ago.  The excitement was very high.  Now only the newest, most novice newbies to PowerShell seem to show up at the Forums. What could be causing this?

Third, and last, there are more than a few dozen sites that produce products that add to PowerShell functionality.  Why is this? The user community seems to be disappearing into some sort of black hole.

At first I thought that PowerShell was unacceptable to the community of Windows Administrators but that wouldn’t explain the large and growing number of companies producing value added products.

Next I thought that it might be due to the economy.  Perhaps these users were being laid off and just going home to wait it out.  I looked at the vendor support sites and saw a large number of questions specific to the vendor’s product showing that the users were there but just not visiting the scripting help forums.

Why would this be?  I scanned through all of the scripting support forums for PowerShell.  Some were fielding almost no PowerShell questions.  The ones that did have posts showed that the posts were nearly all from first time users.   Where are all of the more advanced PowerShell users?

Then it hit me.  PowerShell has succeeded in changing the users.  Once they see how it works they find that it can be easily used at any level of expertise.  Use it like a DOS command line or like a VBScript host.  It doesn’t matter.  Use the help system to search for things to make your job easier.  When DOS commands don’t work, use the PowerShell environment to capture the output of existing scripts and commands for further processing.

Once a user discovers these basic elements, PowerShell pretty much automatically teaches them what to do.  Users, then, only need to come back to the forums to post neat solutions or to ask for help with one of the few tough to solve issues; like changing the ownership of an object.  The need to return is lessened by things like PowerShell Community Extensions and ActiveRoles Management Shell for Active Directory.

The way things look from here, after only a few years of PowerShell, the whole computer industry may be put out of business by just a few smart Admins and their PowerShell magic.  Think of PowerShell like using Twitter to talk to computers.  Just text it and they will come!  Power! Ha!

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