The Coronavirus has thrown the world’s economy into a state of disarray. 114 million workers lost their jobs in 2020 alone.
That’s a lot of people suddenly looking for work.
Naturally, this leads to speculating about what kind of career to get into. Programming and development jobs were already some of the hottest before the pandemic, Software development was also one of the first to bounce back, already posting a record number of new positions by the end of last year.
With so many new programmers, there are bound to be questions about software. Let’s take a look at Powershell, which is capable of far more than it looks!
What Is PowerShell?
Many of today’s programmers came of age when graphic operating systems (OS) like Windows and iOS were already the standard. This means that a certain percentage of programmers and developers have little to no experience with a barebones command-line system like DOS. This is bound to make Powershell seem like an intimidating prospect.
It’s easy to understand why that may be the case, especially considering that there are numerous Shell solutions out there, like this PowerShell for instance, further complicating matters.
PowerShell is an amalgam of numerous other popular command-line shell programs but with a modern twist. Most notably, PowerShell is able to work with .NET objects, unlike more rudimentary shell programs. It also retains its history so you don’t have to type the same commands over and over again,
PowerShell also possesses a number of features commonly found in modern integrated development environments (IDE). It has autocomplete for common commands and functions, for instance, making it an ideal tool for developers who are first starting out.
PowerShell also has a help function that makes it useful for new programmers and developers.
Probably the main draw towards PowerShell is the ability to chain commands together in a pipeline. This makes things like automation feasible in a way that would’ve only been dreamed of using a more stripped-down command-line prompt.
One final detail that separates PowerShell from a simple command-line is the fact that it’s object-based and the presence of cmdlets. Both of these are fairly in-depth concepts so let’s take a moment to look at each before we move on.
What Does Object-Oriented Mean?
Object-oriented programming (OOP) is, in fact, nothing new. Its existence can be traced back to the late 1950s when MIT researchers listed OOP as a type of artificial intelligence. Although the idea may be over 60 years old, OOP has truly come into its own in the last 30 years.
In programming, an object-oriented programming language is a type of configuration that defines how the language functions. An object is something that possesses attributes and one or more different methods or functions
To illustrate this somewhat abstract-sounding concept, start by thinking about a TV remote control. A remote control’s attributes could be its shape, weight, color, and how many buttons it possesses.
The remote control’s functions include turning the TV on and off, changing the channel, and raising and lowering the volume.
Or imagine an object called dog. Some of dog’s attributes could be color, breed, or age. Dog’s functions might be bark, fetch, and be charming.
In programming, an object might possess attributes like classes, properties, methods, or inheritances.
These attributes mean that you can use different aspects of an object, which is radically different than a functional programming language.
What Are CMDLETS?
PowerShell is comprised of a number of commands that perform certain tasks or functions. These are known as CMDLETS, or command-lets, and they’re deceptively simple.
When you use a CMDLET in PowerShell, a number of an object’s features may be interacted with. When you run the command, an object’s methods or classes might be modified. API calls might be made. Other objects might be invoked.
You’d likely never know this as all of this is taken care of for you by PowerShell. That’s another of the main advantages of using PowerShell, especially if you’re a newer programmer. You don’t need to understand every function to be able to get up and programming quickly.
To help make CMDLETS intuitive and easy to understand, they follow a ‘verb-noun’ naming convention. Examples of some verbs used by CMDLETS include:
Some examples of what a CMDLET’s syntax might look like might be `New-Member` or `Get-Address`, for instance.
Uses for PowerShell
PowerShell is unique in that it’s both a tool and a scripting language in its own right. Both uses make systems administrator’s and IT’s jobs easier in a variety of ways.
One advantage that PowerShell’s command-line interface (CLI) has over a barebones Command Prompt is the ability to easy access external systems. Systems Administrators can use PowerShell to remotely access remote servers and run commands as if they were at the physical terminal.
In today’s increasingly remote world, this alone makes PowerShell worthy of inclusion in your development stack.
Just as importantly, PowerShell lets the SysAdmin run a series of commands on numerous remote systems and servers at the same time. This can save you countless hours of headaches, while also ensuring that each of your remote servers are being updated with the same commands and variables.
The ability to write and run scripts is truly the most powerful and appealing aspect of using PowerShell, however. PowerShell can automate a vast array of different functions, from deploying a new server to configuring an email address.
The concept behind PowerShell’s scripts is nothing revolutionary. It’s just chaining a series of different commands together. The application, on the other hand, can be a game-changer.
Getting Started With PowerShell
Let’s wrap up with a quick example of PowerShell in action. We’re going to show you how to write a Hello World script in PowerShell so you can see some of the CMDLETS in action.
To begin, we’ll assume you already have PowerShell downloaded and installed. If not, do so. Don’t worry, we’ll wait.
You’ll also want to make a folder for your PowerShell project in your programming folder. We’ve called ours ‘My First Script’.
Inside of that folder, create a blank file named My_First_Script.ps1 using your text editor of choice. PS1 files are the format for PowerShell scripts.
In the blank document, insert the line ‘Write-Host “Hello, World!”‘
Now save the file.
Next, you’re going to open the PowerShell terminal. Now navigate to your programming folder to run the script. To do so, use:
When you use this command, you’ll see an error message. This is because scripts are still disabled in your system, which is a security feature for PowerShell to prevent your system from being taken over remotely.
There are four levels of restriction for PowerShell. The first is Restricted, which is the default systems setting. This means that scripts won’t run on your system at all.
The next level is RemoteSigned. This means you can run scripts that were written on your own system but scripts from other systems won’t run unless they’re signed by a trusted publisher.
AllSigned means that only scripts signed by a trusted publisher will run. This includes scripts written on your own system.
Unrestricted means that all scripts will run on your system no matter who they were created by.
Enabling Scripts in PowerShell
To use the script you’ve just created, you need to make it so that scripts are able to run on your system. Since your script hasn’t been signed by a publisher, RemoteSigned and Unrestricted are the options available for you. For this tutorial, we’re going to use RemoteSigned.
To change the permissions, you need to close PowerShell and then re-open it as an Administrator. Otherwise, this won’t work.
Now run the following command:
The CMDLET Set-ExecutionPolicy will ask you if you really want to change the permissions. Verify that you do. Now close this instance of PowerShell and open a new terminal as a regular user.
Now run the command again:
Hit enter and you should see “Hello, World!” returned in your terminal.
That’s all there is to it! Congratulations, you have just written your first PowerShell script!
Hopefully this PowerShell introduction and tutorial has shown you that you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on software to become a programmer. You don’t have to be a computer scientist or IT professional, even. There are a ton of powerful, exceptional resources for programmers and developers these days, at all levels of experience.
PowerShell is a welcome addition no matter what level of programming experience you have.
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Whether you want to know about using PowerShell or the latest Google updates, you’ll find it here among our pages. Browse the rest of our Technology articles to stay up-to-date with the latest tech news and trends!
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