A Visit to a PowerShell User Group by the Scripting Guys

Doctor Scripto

Summary: Microsoft Scripting Guy Ed Wilson talks about Windows PowerShell user groups and his recent visit to one in Texas.


Hey, Scripting Guy! QuestionHey, Scripting Guy! A week or so ago, I remember reading that you spoke to the Corpus Christi PowerShell User Group in Texas. You did not do much of a follow-up about that. In addition, you never explained what a Windows PowerShell user group really is.



Hey, Scripting Guy! AnswerHello FR,

Microsoft Scripting Guy Ed Wilson here. The Scripting Wife and I had a wonderful time in Corpus Christi, Texas, last week. The Windows PowerShell class I taught during the week was really fun. I had a mixture of SQL admins, .NET developers, and network administrators. This is typical because Windows PowerShell touches so many different technologies, and it is the glue that can bind together diverse automation solutions. The highlight of the trip was speaking at the inaugural meeting of the Corpus Christi PowerShell User Group. Here is a photo of Marc Adam Carter, president and founder of the Corpus Christi PowerShell User Group as he addresses the group.

Photo of Marc Adam Carter

I spoke to the group about Windows PowerShell best practices. My presentation is a distillation of some of the best practices that are covered in my book, Windows PowerShell 2.0 Best Practices, that was published by Microsoft Press. After the meeting, the group got together for a group picture, which captures for posterity these intrepid initial members.

Photo of initial members of Corpus Christi PowerShell User Group

FR, a Windows PowerShell users group can be like a club in which all members are interested in the same topic—Windows PowerShell. The big thing is that it is a resource for learning about Windows PowerShell. Usually, each meeting will have an established agenda. For example, the group may decide that they would like to know more about troubleshooting Windows PowerShell remoting, and one of the members may decide to make a presentation about that topic. If there are no local experts in the particular topic of interest, the group may seek an outside expert to make the presentation. Because all Windows PowerShell user groups that sign up with GITCA get a free Live Meeting account, it is easy to obtain globally renowned speakers to make a presentation on just about any topic of interest to the group.

In addition to having a formal agenda with a guest speaker, many Windows PowerShell user groups will also have an open agenda meeting in which members discuss Windows PowerShell scripts that are still in the development stages. For example, if I were having a problem with a script, I would take my laptop to the meeting, and in all likelihood, another member of the group would offer suggestions for solving my problem or at least offer ideas that could lead to the development of a workaround solution. These script club types of meetings are very popular and are a great way to learn the nuances of Windows PowerShell script writing. By seeing a problem and seeing the offered solutions to the problem, one gains insight into Windows PowerShell troubleshooting and logic.

But there is much more to a Windows PowerShell user group meeting than simply showing up to hear a presentation. For me, the big thing is the networking, the contacts, and the friendships that are established during the meetings. Knowing who to call when there is a problem is more than half the battle when troubleshooting complex scripting issues. The Scripting Wife and I are always among the first people to arrive at a user group meeting, and we are nearly always the last to leave. We generally hand out lots of business cards (I would not think of attending a Windows PowerShell user group meeting without taking a box of business cards with me—well, okay, there was that meeting in Columbus, Ohio, but that was an oversight.)

Most Windows PowerShell users groups meet once a month, and to make it easy to remember, they will choose a pattern, such as the second Tuesday of each month. You can find out if there is a Windows PowerShell user group in your city by checking the PowerShell Community Groups website. It lists information such as meeting locations, upcoming guest speakers, and contact information for Windows PowerShell user groups from all around the world.

If you don’t find a Windows PowerShell users group in your area, does that mean you are out of luck? No way! You might want to start a user group on your own. If you do, you should read my post, Practical Tips for Starting a PowerShell User Group, as well as the guest blog article written by Mark Schill, who is the founder and president of the Atlanta PowerShell User Group. When you get your group established, send me email at scripter@microsoft.com so that we can arrange a time for me to talk to your group either in person or via Live Meeting.

FR, Windows PowerShell user groups are lots of fun and a great way to learn about Windows PowerShell. Check out one in your home town. You will be glad you did.


I invite you to follow me on Twitter and Facebook. If you have any questions, send email to me at scripter@microsoft.com, or post your questions on the Official Scripting Guys Forum. See you tomorrow. Until then, peace.

Ed Wilson, Microsoft Scripting Guy




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