Thursday, 11 December 2008

Take your own advice Jonathan!

During this last year I've done quite a few presentations about Powershell and quite often as part of the demo I have included PowerGUI since I find it a great way to reel people in who aren't quite yet ready to make a jump the whole way to command line scripting.

One of the topics I usually talk about around this is how I (like most people seem to) initially used the PowerGUI script editor for writing my scripts, but didn't really get what the PowerGUI console was all about. I couldn't quite get my head around why you would want a

GUI console for a command shell to manage a GUI OS or product,

it didn't seem to make much sense to me.

Luckily, we were very fortunate back in May to head over to Quest in the UK with the Powershell User Group for an evening's event. I decided I'd better figure out what the PowerGUI console was for before attending so watched some of the videos on the PowerGUI site to give myself a better idea.

Doing that and seeing Dmitry's presentation in the night made things finally click. You could use it to make custom management consoles for your own use or even better to give to a colleague or share with the community. That's where the idea for the Exchange 2003 PowerPack was born and the Get-Scripting podcast was born almost by accident that night too, but those are stories for another day. :-)

Anyway, back to the presenting. I often show PowerGUI and explain how you can use it to make custom management consoles to give to colleagues.

Recently I have been working out my notice period before heading to a new job and one of the things I have done during that time is create a bunch of scripts for the regular admin tasks I or others carry out (particularly with AD) which I never got round to writing for myself or them and to save whoever took on my role or parts of it a load of hassle.

For instance I finally got around to creating a script for de-provisioning users which should really help to improve the previous process which was in place. It was based on my good friend Jonathan Noble's blog post about setting logon hours for an account rather than disabling it so that the email doesn't bounce. Thanks Jon!

Of course some of these scripts were to be handed over to the helpdesk. Now without being patronising (because we have some very smart people on our helpdesk) it can be quite a jump for a helpdesk person to read through all the documentation I wrote for each script and start running those scripts from the command shell and seeing their results in a blue on black window.

So the cogs started whirring away in the old brain whilst I tried to think of a better way I could deliver these scripts for the helpdesk so they could get up and running with them much quicker and easier without having to read through all the boring documentation first and have a better experience when running them, i.e. don't put them off using the scripts once I'm not there anymore to help them.

Finally it clicked. Why didn't I take my own advice I'd been giving out all year about making management consoles for your colleagues and go and do it myself! So the AD Admin Powerpack was born, I packaged up my scripts into this PowerPack, installed PowerGUI for them and instantly the scripts were far more useable.

No need to read all of my boring documentation beforehand since its pretty obvious what clicking on script nodes such as 'Find Expired AD users' or 'How many users in Active Directory?' will do.

Effective, very simple solutions which save people time, make them more efficient and its makes me feel good to leave something useful like that behind for them to use. Thank you PowerGUI!

Of course the girls on the helpdesk love the train icon so it was an even easier win with them.


seaJhawk said...

Hi Jonathan,
Do you have any plans to share your AD PowerPak? I'm trying to build one for allowing users in a multi-tennant environment view and manage only their objects. I'd love to see what you've done if you wouldn't mind sharing.

chris at harriskids dot com

Jonathan Medd said...

I have been thinking about doing that, it still needs a bit of work before being really complete.

After that I did think about publishing it, but it is very specific to the needs and configuration of that particular environment so would need some sanitising and possibly might not be that useful.

Perhaps what I could do is sanitise it and rather than publish it for everyone let you check it out. Might not be for a little while though. :-)

seaJhawk said...

I'd love to check it out if you have time to sanitize it at some point. I'm making some decent progress with my proof-of-concept, but would definitely like to compare notes (or probably cheat off yours :^P).

My goal is to create a PowerPack that will simplify AD user and group management for our hosted users.

I spent today playing with creating some custom dialog boxes to prompt users for info and it's going pretty well.

I don't know if it will help you, but I asked the Quest guys today about running PowerGUI in "read-only" mode and it's something they've been kicking around for a while. If it is interesting to you I suggest that you let them know the features you need. Check out my thread on the PowerGUI forum for Darin's email address if you don't already have it.