Making Reports in PowerShell (Part 2 of 3): Simple Text Reports

In Part 1 of this short series, I showed you how many admins approach text-based report creation in PowerShell. The emphasis there is on "text-based:" While PowerShell can do a decent job of manipulating text, that isn't where its true power lies. If you're going to use a tool, it's best to use it properly: Your job will be easier, and the results will be better and more flexible.

My sample report has two scenarios. The first is when I need to display some data that comes from two different places, such as two WMI classes, and want to do so in a single element like a table or list. The second is when the information I need in a particular section can be obtained from a single place, like just one WMI class.


[CmdletBinding()]
param (
    [Parameter(Mandatory=$True)]
    [string]$computername
)

function CSInfo {
    param($computername)
    $cs = Get-WmiObject -Class Win32_ComputerSystem -computername $computername
    $bios = Get-WmiObject -class Win32_BIOS -computername $computername
    $props = @{'Computer'=$cs.name;
               'Manufacturer'=$cs.manufacturer;
               'Model'=$cs.model;
               'BIOSSerial'=$bios.serialnumber}
    $obj = New-Object -TypeName PSObject -Property $props
    Write-Output $obj
}

Write-Output "----- COMPUTERSYSTEM"
CSInfo -computername $computername | Format-List

Write-Output "------ OPERATING SYSTEM"
Get-WmiObject -Class Win32_OperatingSystem -computername $computername |
Select-Object -Property Version,BuildNumber,ServicePackMajorVersion,OSArchitecture |
Format-List

Write-Output "------ PROCESSORS"
Get-WmiObject -class Win32_Processor  -computername $computername |
Select-Object -Property AddressWidth,MaxClockSpeed -First 1 |
Format-List

Write-Output "------ DISKS"
Get-WmiObject -class Win32_LogicalDisk -filter "drivetype=3" -computername $computername |
Select-Object -Property DeviceID,Size,FreeSpace |
Format-List

That makes me clench my teeth marginally less than the original version. This can now be piped to Out-File successfully. There are three main changes:


  • I'm using PowerShell to mark the parameter as mandatory, rather than using Read-Host as a prompt. PowerShell will prompt on its own if the parameter isn't included.
  • I'm using Write-Output to put output into the pipeline, and consistently formatting all of my data as lists.
  • For instances where I need to combine info from two places, I've written an internal "helper function" that produces a combined object. So no more formatting text - I'm letting the shell do it.

This is still far from ideal, and in the final part of this short series, I'm going to really make this look awesome.

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