PowerShell's Bright Future

A couple of seasoned PowerShell vets break down how they see the powerful tool's next stage of evolution.

Inside the Session

What: Commanding the Future: Unveiling the PowerShell Evolution

When: Aug. 6, 9:30-10:45 a.m.

Who: PowerShell Pros James Petty and Jason Helmick

Why: "PowerShell made the monumental move to open source and support for cross-platform management and automation of macOS and Linux. "

Find out more about TechMentor @ Microsoft HQ, taking place Aug. 5-9 in Redmond, Wash. Register by July 12  to save $300.

PowerShell, Microsoft's task automation framework, continues to change and improve, with significant updates and a growing community that is eager to harness its potential.

Automation gurus James Petty and Jason Helmick reflect on their initial challenges and the progress made, noting how PowerShell has become more accessible to newcomers through comprehensive resources and a robust community. They also provide a sneak peek of what to expect from their upcoming TechMentor Session, "Commanding the Future: Unveiling the PowerShell Evolution."

Make your plans now to join us on the campus of Microsoft in Redmond, Wash. Aug 5-9 for this year's TechMentor to hear more great insights from the world of PowerShell with Petty and Helmick. Register by July 12 to save $300!

Redmond: Can you talk about the biggest PowerShell hurdles you personally struggled with when you were both first starting out in IT? What do you think is different now for the IT pros (a lot of them might be Gen Z!) that are just beginning to work with PowerShell?
Petty: In 2014, I encountered a daunting task that would have consumed days if tackled manually. At that time, I had no prior exposure to PowerShell. However, upon discovering it, I immediately recognized its potential and committed to mastering it. Beginning with "Learn PowerShell in a Month of Lunches," I delved into the intricacies of PowerShell and swiftly emerged as the go-to expert in my workplace. This journey led me to assume the role of lead author for the 4th edition of the same book. It's been an exhilarating journey, and I find immense satisfaction in introducing newcomers to the transformative power of PowerShell in the realm of automation.

Helmick: I started with PowerShell v1 with the release of Exchange 2007 and there was almost no information, training or books, to help learn PowerShell. It was lonely and difficult trying to learn the essential basics, like how to find the right commands and how to use them. Today, there are plenty of books and videos to help you grow with PowerShell, but the best help I found was with participating in the PowerShell community and learning directly from others and their experiences. The community is more than a single web location or conference - it's a collection of places to share ideas and have discussions, including directly with the PowerShell team. Look to join and get involved in the PowerShell community call, PowerShell subreddit, the PowerShell GitHub repository and conferences like  the upcoming TechMentor. The community is active and welcoming!

Microsoft has done a lot of work to beef up PowerShell's capabilities in the last few years. In your opinion, what's been the most significant change?
PowerShell made the monumental move to open source and support for cross-platform management and automation of macOS and Linux. This is a natural move for PowerShell and its extensible design, but a big challenge for Microsoft. The success of moving to cross-platform support opens up new doors and sparks exciting conversations, expanding the capabilities of PowerShell. PowerShell empowers you to be successful with these new capabilities. This is the sacred vow made by Jeffrey Snover (the inventor of PowerShell) to the community. Learn PowerShell and Microsoft will strive to make sure PowerShell grows, so you are empowered to be successful in management and automation.

In that same vein, what kinds of use cases have the recent updates to PowerShell made possible -- and that maybe weren't possible before?
PowerShell moving to cross-platform, along with our focus on stability, makes PowerShell a perfect cloud automation language. Today, PowerShell helps automate Azure, AWS, and others. If PowerShelll can automate the largest cloud environment in the world, it can help you in your environment. New scenarios open every day as we work to extend PowerShell's capabilities. We couldn't do it without the advice of the community.

How do you see PowerShell evolving in the next few years, especially in the context of AI and Microsoft's whole "Copilot" era?
We have already invested in AI technologies in PowerShell, like the Az Predictor module, which uses AI to predict the commands and parameter values you need. We are also looking for other ways to bring AI experiences to the shell. The LLMs are ready, but the challenge is to create the right user experience. This is where we need input from the community. We need to understand how people want to use AI in the shell, what problems they want it to solve, and how they want to interact with it.

What's the one thing in your PowerShell toolbox you can't go without? It can be a tip, a script, a tool -- anything.
An example of one of my favorite new features that came from the open source learning is PSReadLine Predictors and feedback providers. When you start typing, we predict the remainder of the command. If you get an error, we can provide a suggestion on how to fix it. This framework is extensible, so you can write your own predictors and feedback providers, including AI-based add-ons.

About the Authors

Gladys Rama (@GladysRama3) is the editorial director of Converge360.

Chris Paoli (@ChrisPaoli5) is the associate editor for Converge360.


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