Over the next few blog posts I thought I’d present some of the various PowerShell IDE’s on the market. Yes, that’s right, there’s more out there then just the IDE that ships with PowerShell. I thought I’d kick things off with the “Cadillac” of tools, SAPIEN PowerShell Studio 2012.
This by far is the most comprehensive tool of any on the market. It’s key selling point is the ability to quickly and easily create Windows Forms that can be called from, and raise events in, your PowerShell scripts.
OK, I can already hear you. “Hey Robert this is supposed to be scripts, what do we need Windows Forms for?” That’s a great question.
A very common task to do in scripting is the creation of virtual machines. You can imagine though all of the things you would need to enter in order to create the machine. What’s the name? What’s the activation key? What do you want installed? SQL Server? SharePoint?
You could, of course, have the script prompt you one question at a time. Or have a vast array of command line switches and parameters you need to enter just right in order to run the script. You could reduce complexity by having multiple scripts, but then you increase the workload. Then there’s the issue of who is going to run the script.
It would be far preferable to have a simple, single windows dialog pop up and ask all these questions at once. The person running the script could enter the information in any order, and when they were done just click an big OK button to launch the script.
This also expands the sphere of people who can run the script. Now you will be able to let an experienced PowerShell developer create the complex script, then give it to someone who may not even know PowerShell. They just run a single command, enter in some information into an easy to understand Windows Form, and they are off and running.
But Windows Forms are just the tip of the iceberg. For example, PowerShell Studio makes it easy to package your scripts into executables. Yep, you can take all your proprietary code and keep it safe from prying eyes by compiling it into an easy to distribute EXE file.
It also has the ability to run your scripts in either 32 or 64 bit mode, all within the same editor. Very nice if you are having to support older systems as well as more modern ones.
From a development standpoint, it has the nice feature of organizing your scripts into projects. This makes management of them much easier.
It has an outstanding editor, with a great help system, and a snippet library loaded up with snippet goodness. The object browser is one of my favorite features. Using it you can drill down into not only PowerShell objects, but .Net, WMI, the file system, and even databases. I find this incredibly useful, I can quickly lookup info without having to leave my IDE.
I will admit that at $349 (as I write this), it’s not the cheapest of the PowerShell IDE’s on the market. However I’m a firm believer in “you get what you pay for”. This price is low enough that it should be a no brainer for any sized company, from a huge multinational corporation to a single person consultant. By taking advantage of the features in SAPIEN’s PowerShell Studio 2012 you’ll recap that back in a very short time.
Without a doubt this is the most feature rich PowerShell IDE I’ve seen. It seems to have everything but the kitchen sink. And I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s in there too and I just haven’t found it yet.