Windows PowerShell Scripting Guide: Automating Administration of Windows Vista and Windows Server

Author: Ed Wilson
Publisher: Microsoft Press, 2008
Pages: 650
ISBN: 978-0735622791
Aimed at: Systems scriptors
Rating: 4
Pros: Useful examples included on CD
Cons: Doesn't present an overview or theoretical framework
Reviewed by: Mike James

Another book on PowerShell raises yet again the question of "what exactly is PowerShell for?" It's even more confusing when the first chapter uses VBScript to detect if the PowerShell is actually installed - why wasn't VBScript just upgraded enough to make PowerShell irrelevant? This book isn't very helpful when it comes to learning PowerShell or even learning techniques involved in using PowerShell. It starts with a very rapid and fairly unhelpful introduction to the "language". You won't understand much of this unless you are already a programmer. If you are a systems administrator wanting to get into PowerShell then it will show you what PowerShell looks like and provide you with lots of examples but it is unlikely to convert you into a creative PowerShell programmer. Far too much of the book is simply about providing useful examples involving other technologies the Event Log system, WMI and so on. The big problem currently facing any would be system scriptor is that the APIs and objects that you need to know about are spread across the documentation in a way that makes it very hard to get a coherent view. This book doesn't help with this problem - often making it seem that the existence of this or that facility is magic and you just have to know they exist.

Instead of clarifying the facilities the focus of the explanations are the scripts that have been invented to do the job. "Here is a script to do "x", this is how you use it and this is how it works", isn't useful if you are trying to get to grips with the whole picture of say WMI and how to use it. Of course if you actually just need the script to do "x" then you might not be worried. As a book of solutions it is more successful. There is even a CD bound into the back containing all the scripts from the book (over 300) and lots of extras. From this point of view it might be useful but it isn't a good way to learn how to create your own novel PowerShell scripts.

 <Reviewed in VSJ>