Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"Windows PowerShell 3.0: Step by Step" by Ed Wilson, Microsoft/O'Reilly

When I set out to tackle a problem at work, we found that the best way to handle it was by using PowerShell (PoSH). Well, I handled the situation as best I could, got a resolution up and running. I started looking around for a resource for me to learn PoSH, and how I should’ve written my scripts. I came across the Ed Wilson (w|t) book, Windows PowerShell 3.0 – Step by Step. Since the book is about PoSH v3, all of the info is in relation to Windows 8, and Server 2012, however most of the cmdlets and functions are available for Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 (if one updates to v3, as 7 and 2008 R2 shipped with v2)

It turned out it was a mighty tome to read. The heftiness of it was in large part to the only knock I found against it, the too verbose outputs. For example, on pages 172-173, he shows the complete listing for the all of the verbs that are available for the cmdlets on his system. I understand that it is helpful to show at least three to five lines of the output, however I don’t need to see the complete output of the command, especially those that are just listing items. Reading these sections on my Kindle was never-ending.

Now that the bad part of the review is out of the way, time to start on the good stuff. Ed’s writing style is good and easy to understand. Granted an almost 700 page book about PoSH will have some slow points, Ed does his best to minimize them as best he can. The book is broken up as to lend itself to a quick reference book once the reader is done with the first pass through the book.

The book is chock full of examples from listing which verbs are available (see above), to connecting and working with Microsoft Active Directory, creating and using home brewed functions, to debugging and error handling. First going through the book, I did the exercises which were fantastic and readily pertained to “real world” situations.  The book is detailed enough in the examples that you aren’t left to looking up how Ed got from point A to point Q. Sure he might skip B and jump straight to C, however building on what one has previously read, the reader is left to make the smaller but doable jumps.

After finishing the book, it now resides on my bookshelf next to my most often used books. Where the book really shines is as a reference book. Time and time again I find myself going back to the book, rather than going to the Internet for answers. I have recommended this book to my co-workers and am looking forward to the PoSH v4 book that I am hoping he writes.