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Why Is PowerShell a Great First Scripting Language?

PowerShell is the perfect choice to start learning automation and scripting skills, which are currently some of the most highly sought after in the IT industry. With the emergence of DevOps in the recent past, the addition of automation and scripting skills can greatly help you prosper in your career.

Like most IT professionals, you will most probably be working in the Windows environment. If you want to be responsible for desktops or servers, you are advised to start using PowerShell, as this will greatly simplify your work. You actually don’t have to think like a programmer. If you want to enter the world of programming, you should consider this language because it is among the best starting points. It is easy to learn and it is also widely used. Let us explore some good reasons why PowerShell is considered to be a great first programming language for the IT individuals.

Brief overview of PowerShell

Most Microsoft products, if not all, have a graphic user interface (GUI) that just covers PowerShell. This language is a configuration management framework, which runs on .NET Framework and then on .NET Core. It consists of a command-line shell, so with the help of this framework, the administrators can perform their tasks on local or remote Windows systems and gain full access to WMI and COM.

All actions are performed by cmdlets (should be pronounced as command-lets). There is also a console-based help if you type the Get-Help cmdlet. You should remember that there are differences between the cmdlet and the command. For example, they are not stand-alone executable files and they don’t create their own error presentation, parsing, or output formatting. All of them are handled by Windows PowerShell runtime. PowerShell has a lot of features, but let’s dive into the reasons why it is chosen as the first language to learn.

You can immediately apply your PowerShell skills.

Just run a Notepad and type the following:

Write-Host “Hello, World!”

Here you are! If you save this file as a .ps1 one, you will have your first script. Congrats! After opening PowerShell as Administrator, write the following command to allow scripts to run:

Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned

If necessary, agree to the conditions (just follow the instructions) and simply type the location of your file using the command:

& “C:\path\your_file_name.ps1”

If you do everything right, you will see your script in the command line.

When you start with just simple one-line commands on the shell, it will be possible for you to immediately get started scripting. As you may notice, the PowerShell language follows the syntax of ‘verb-noun’, which is very approachable. Suppose you would like to get the properties of a particular exchange mailbox. In that case, you can simply open the Exchange shell and then run the cmdlet:

Get-Mailbox

After this, go ahead and filter the outbox, and then select the fields you want. You can also pass the results of that particular command to another one. In case you would like to make any changes to the mailbox, simply use:

Set-Mailbox

These are simple one-liners that will teach you not only the PowerShell basics but also what is possible. And most importantly, you will get a great bombshell of immediate satisfaction, and that is particularly a great thing for someone who is getting ready to ditch GUI.

PowerShell will make you more employable.

PowerShell as a skill today is highly sought after as a great experience for DevOps positions. According to recent surveys and statistics, about 30 percent of the IT professionals are in the DevOps role. Compared to about three years earlier, this percentage has almost doubled. The DevOps job market is very big and the critical skill set for a great DevOps engineer is infrastructure automation. Earlier on, Python had an advantage over PowerShell by simply being cross-platform. However, after the release of PowerShell Core, there will be increased adoption of this framework as the primary infrastructure automation language of choice.

Scripting with PowerShell is still one of the greatest skills to have even for those who are not considering getting on the DevOps bandwagon. This is because the scripting routine tasks deliver predictable results, save time, and, ultimately, make you more efficient. Whether it is system administration or DevOps, it is most likely that PowerShell will always be featured in job advertisements. So, adding it in your resume will set you apart and make you more employable.

PowerShell is now cross-platform.

One of the reasons why PowerShell is now a great first language is that it is cross-platform. As we said earlier, it has now been rewritten in PowerShell Core. The latter runs on Linux, Windows, and Mac. This is the go-forward for all PowerShell development.

PowerShell is a management tool for various Microsoft products, such as SharePoint, Exchange, Office 365, Azure, and Hyper-V. Azure can become its own specialty and even lead you into the world of DevOps, public Cloud, and containerization. Moreover, knowing PowerShell can help you in obtaining various Microsoft certifications. The most important thing is that cross-platform means that if you learn PowerShell as your first language, you can also come with it to Windows, Mac, and Linux.

PowerShell is versatile and powerful.

Of course, PowerShell is basically a scripting engine. However, this does not mean that it is limited. In fact, it is very powerful. Built on top of .NET, PowerShell can natively call .NET methods to complete tasks, even when the built-in PowerShell cmdlet does not support it. What’s more, it can also run everything that can be run from the command prompt.

The Microsoft product such as Windows has an array of legacy applications with their own command-line arguments, which so far have no equivalent in PowerShell. In case you have a huge collection of batch files, this means that you can start to rewrite them in PowerShell but still use the older code.

Conclusion

This may not mean much to a beginner, but advancing in the language simply means that in the end you will run into limitations. PowerShell is very powerful on its own but usually leads to learning many other languages, such as Python, Bash, and Perl. Compared to others, PowerShell is easier to learn. Therefore, you will definitely find your limitations sooner. And with one language, picking a second and third one is much easier.

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