Wednesday, October 21, 2009

MSDN Has A New Look and Feel

I spend time on the MDSN Site, particularly the MSDN Library sub-site where I’ve added a few PowerShell scripts as well as editing the content that is added. Just recently, the site has had a bit of a make over. The “MSDN-RED” logo is replaced wiht a more stylish blue colour, along with the opportunity to change your view of the site.

From FireFox, I have a new pop up at the bottom right hand corner of my browser window:


The “old” view, Classic is what you are used to, although with new colours. It is the view I will use going forward. Lightweight beta provides what it says, a much more lightweight feel. ScriptFree is even nicer (IMHO) to look at.  And being smaller pages, download times are much snappier.

But what both these two new views omit is all the community contnet (i.e. Community Content) as contained in Classic View. From the Script page, community added page tags are R/O, and there appears to be no way to see or edit Community Content (from both LightWeight and Script Free skins). And the big orange Switch View button from Classic view is pretty ugly and distracting – worse, there appears to be no way to tell it: I’m happy with what I see and please go away.  Or at least a more subtle control perhaps in the title bars like in the other views.

For casual users, or those on lightweight (aka celluar) networks, it’s a nice touch. Shame about losing the community content.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Ensuring PowerShell Is Loaded Onto a System

I saw a cool tip over at for working out if PowerShell is available on a system. This tip points out that if PowerShell is installed on a machine, then the registry key HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\MICROSOFT\PowerShell\1 will exist and will contain key configuration information.

From my main workstation, I see:

PSH [C:\]: cd hklm:\\SOFTWARE\MICROSOFT\PowerShell\1\


SKC  VC Name                           Property
---  -- ----                           --------
  0   1 1033                           {Install}
  0   6 PowerShellEngine               {ApplicationBase, ConsoleHostAssemblyName,PowerShellVersion,
  3   0 PowerShellSnapIns              {}
  1   1 PSConfigurationProviders       {(default)}
  1   0 ShellIds                       {}

PSH [HKLM:\SOFTWARE\MICROSOFT\PowerShell\1]: ls .\PowerShellSnapIns


SKC  VC Name                           Property
---  -- ----                           --------
  0   7 PowerGUI                       {Version, PowerShellVersion, AssemblyName,ApplicationBase...}
  0   9 Pscx                           {PowerShellVersion, Vendor, Description, Version...}
  0  11 Quest.ActiveRoles.ADManagement {AssemblyName, Description, ModuleName, PowerShellVersion...}

This is pretty cool. And looking at the PowerShellSnapIns – this information is useful for managing snap-ins on clients and servers. You could test the existence of this Registry key as follows:

PSH [C:\foo]: Test-Path hklm:\SOFTWARE\MICROSOFT\PowerShell\1
PSH [C:\foo]: $PSVersionTable

Name                           Value
----                           -----
CLRVersion                     2.0.50727.3074
BuildVersion                   6.1.6949.0
PSVersion                      2.0
PSCompatibleVersions           {1.0, 2.0}

But testing the existance of this registry path from within PowerShell is somewhat meaningless. If PowerShell exists on a given system, then the key will exist so the test will of course succeed. But if PowerShell does NOT exist, you’d never be able to run the script in the first place so being able to test from within the PowerShell script is unhelpful. I suppose you could write a C# program or a VBScript script to do the detection.

But wouldn’t a better way be to just get PowerShell deployed? I’d base the wide deployment to down level systems on the RTM version of The Windows Management Framework. The WMF Release Candidate was posted to the web on Aug 13th, so is getting very close to release. I do not have any specific knowledge, but given past experience by the PowerShell team, I’e expect to see this by the end of the year, maybe at TechEd Berlin.

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