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Powershell in a Month Day 10 – Formatting

January 15, 2014

This is part of my Powershell Challenge, to learn more about PowerShell (PoSh) using the Learn Windows Powershell 3 in a Month of Lunches book by Don Jones.

Not an exciting chapter for sure. This chapter deals with the formatting of results, or objects, for display (or saving to a file or printing). It’s mundane, and not the most interesting stuff to learn. As an analogy to the SQL world, it’s like learning the difference between

select *
and
select name, id, status
We typically don’t deal with a lot of formatting in SQL Server. We let SSMS handle things, and we include, or don’t include, results. This chapter shows how to do that, and builds a little on some of the things from previous chapters.
The Get-Process and Get-Service items are the main examples. The chapter starts with some theory, looking at Get-WMIObject and how the system knows whether to display things in a list or a table, but for the most part we don’t alter those default formats natively, so that wasn’t very interesting.
However, the format-table and format-wide items are interesting. I could see those being handy when you are trying to cull through information and want to only deal with certain items. I practiced a bunch of the formatting, playing with the results, and practicing expressions. Especially when we get to the point where we want to do math and calculate the results of something. Like normalizing memory or recompiles, or something else.
The chapter looks at grouping, choosing columns, breaking into separate tables, and in general a light understanding of formatting capabilities. There isn’t much time spent on format-list or format-wide, and not much on out-GridView, do you have to do those on your own. I think out-gridview will be really handy to try and work with a set of data, resort it on the fly, and without re-running commands.
Overall an easy chapter, light on content, but handy in that it will teach you things that you’ll want to do at some point and won’t want to figure out on the fly. I did OK with most of the lab, but being in a bit of a hurry, I didn’t want to figure out how to get a list of log files and cheated, looking at the answers. I should have dug into help, but help is annoying at times. I’ll have to get over that.
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