Learn PowerShell at the Scripting Guys 2011 Scripting Games


Summary: The biggest Windows PowerShell learning event is just around the corner. Details about the 2011 Scripting Games are here.

Weekend Scripter: Destination the 2011 Scripting Games

Image of Dr. Scripto

Microsoft Scripting Guy, Ed Wilson here. Welcome to the sixth annual Scripting Games. This year I decided to move the games back a couple of weeks due to conflicts with the dates of Tech·Ed 2011 and SQL Rally in Orlando. The 2011 Scripting Games begin on April 4, 2011, and the last event reveals on April 15, 2011. These two weeks are followed by two weeks of expert commentator solutions to the events, and two additional weeks of wrap up when I will review the submitted scripts and pick out a few for in-depth analysis and review. The excitement around this year’s scripting games has already begun. There have been numerous tweets, a 2011 Scripting Games—PowerShell Unleashed video and a Bionic Scripto video.

Last year’s non-themed games worked out well, and I decided there would be no theme for this year’s games either. In the final evaluation, it seems that having an event called javelin throw was a bit dorky, and I personally found it confusing when I tried to go back and determine the purpose of the script. I feel safe in saying that there will be no more Scripting Games themes…but then, I could be wrong.

One thing that is very important this year (like last year) is that the Beginner division is for beginners. This means people who have very little experience with scripting are welcome—in fact, more than welcome—they are encouraged to participate. It should be a great learning experience. In fact, the Scripting Wife will participate in the 2011 Scripting Games Beginner Windows PowerShell division again this year—and she has done nothing with scripting since last year. Keep in mind, that because she is married to the Scripting Guy (me) she is prohibited by the rules of the event from actually entering in the competition. Therefore, she is ineligible for any of the prizes.

What about the games themselves? Well this year, just as it has been for the last three years, there are ten events for two divisions. The big change this year is that there is no VBScript category. There are two levels of participation in each of the two divisions: beginner and advanced. In a change from previous years, you will not be permitted to change divisions, nor will you be permitted to participate in both divisions. This means that you will participate at either the beginner level or the advanced level. Two different leader boards will be maintained; and therefore, there will be a beginner winner and an advanced winner.

This year, the leader board will be updated daily, and it will indicate your position by registration ID. Each entry gains you one point. The judging criteria will be released soon. For reference, you may wish to review the judging criteria from the 2010 Scripting Games.

Speaking of prizes…

Yes, we will be having prizes. At this point it would be premature to reveal them. Suffice to say, there is some really cool stuff that any scripter or budding scripter would love to have. Stay tuned for the prize announcement.

Frequently asked questions

The cool thing about including a frequently asked questions section when you have not even completed the document, is that you are telling people that you are deliberately doing a slack job; and therefore, you know that they will have lots of questions. However, I could say that after having conducted two Scripting Games and watching several others, I know the types of questions people are likely to have…

How do I submit an entry?

We are once again collaborating with the Microsoft Windows PowerShell MVP community, and we are therefore using their PoshCode script repository. You will log in by using your Windows Live ID or one of the Open IDs that are available on the Internet. After you log in, upload your script. It is really easy. We will be notified when entries are uploaded, and we will grade them, update the leader board, send e-mails to our managers bragging about our successes. (You really do not want to know all the behind-the-scenes gory details. All you need to worry about is solving various scripting puzzlers and submitting your entry.) It’s a piece of cake (or celery stick if you are on a perpetual diet like me.)

When are the entries due?

Entries are due one week after the event is announced. The due date is determined at midnight Pacific Standard Time (-8 GMT). Each day a process runs at that time that generates the leader board. After the entry due date, new submissions for that event will be locked out.

Do I have to submit my posting exactly on the day it is due?

Yes. If you want to maximize your chances for winning one of our fabulous prizes, you should ensure that you submit scripts for all 10 events. So the long answer is, “Yes, you need to submit your script prior to midnight Pacific Standard Time (-8 GMT) of the due date for the event if you with it to count. After that time, entries are not accepted.”

How do I participate in the 2011 Scripting Games?

First of all, you will need to register for a contestant ID. When you have that, you need to stay tuned to the TechNet Script Center and watch for the event announcements. You can get a leg up on the competition by following the Scripting Guys on Twitter, because that is where the events will first be announced. We know that there is still a bit of cutthroat competition lurking around in the subconscious mind and we feel no compunction for stoking this trait. The Twitter tag is #2011SG.

May I enter more than one division?


How do I earn points?

You earn a point for your submission. In addition, you earn a point for a correct submission, and you can potentially earn additional points for style. Points are then tallied and contestants updated on the leader board.

How do I know if my script was right?

Well did it run when you wrote it? If it did, does it solve the problem you were attempting? Then guess what, it was right. Just like in real life, the script is right if it solves the problem. Is it the best script for the job? How do you define best? What is the criterion? Shortest, fastest, easiest to read, most complicated, most elegant, most heavily commented, most robust, or any other superlative.

When the scripting games are over, stay tuned because we will have guest commentaries written by experts in the field. You are free to compare your script with those developed by the experts. During the wrap up sessions, we will be picking cool scripts from contestants to highlight during our Hey, Scripting Guy! Blog. If your script is cool enough, you might be picked! You can also garner feedback via the evaluation process in the code gallery. In the end, however, your script is right if it works for you, and if you understand why you wrote what you did. If you are happy, we are ecstatic!

Are you giving away prizes this year?

Yes. See the prize page.

How do I win prizes?

There will be 11 drawings for prizes this year—one drawing per day during the Scripting Games and a grand prize drawing at the end. To be eligible for a daily drawing you need to submit your script for the event. Everyone who enters the scripting games is eligible for the grand prize drawing. All prizes are granted based upon random drawing of names from the eligible pool of scripters for that day’s event.

What if I need help whilst working on a script?

We have the Official Scripting Guys Forum, but this forum is not specific to the Scripting Games. If you have a question about a problem you are working on, it is very possible that one of your fellow participants will also have a similar question. In the true spirit of community and sharing, you are encouraged to actively participate in this forum. You will be surprised at the ideas that may suddenly spring from a spirited conversation regarding one of the games. In addition, you can also ask questions on Twitter (remember the #2011SG tag to help ensure maximum coverage).

Can I look at the scripts submitted by the other participants?

Of course you can. You are encouraged to do so, actually. However, the code will not be visible until after all scripts have been submitted for a specific event. For example, Event 1 is available on April 4. During the following week entries are being submitted. On April 12, you will be able to go in and see what your fellow scripters submitted for Event 1.

Can I edit my entry after I submit it?

No. After it is submitted, an entry cannot be altered.

There is a lot of stuff going on with the 2011 Scripting Games, how can I keep up with it all?

Bookmark the 2011 Scripting Games: All Links on One Page—or better yet, make it your Start page on one of your Internet Explorer tabs. This page will build during the course of the games, and the most important pages will be directly linked off this page. It will not be all of the pages created during the games, but it will be a good bit, and it should be sufficient to keep you from losing the plot.

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