Scripting Games 2010: My Scripts


2010 Scripting Games--I was there!

This is more for my own records.  I know for sure I will be using these as a reference over the next few month.  All my 2010 Scripting Games solutions.

~Glenn

Scripting Games 2010: PostGame Roundup

2010 Scripting Games
I just submitted my last entry into this years games, and I wanted to capture a few things before I go and get busy. 

The Challenges

In years past the challenges where the equivalent of the scripting combine.  They would test ones ability to solve a logic problem in code. This created a developer friendly zone.  Whereby professional coders (aka developers) would inevitably produce a script that used some –xor feature or .net class I knew nothing about.  I would look back on my script feel incredibly inadequate and try harder.  This always lasted at most 5 days… until this year I never made it past 5 days.

This year the dread pirate Ed Wilson flipped the script. All of a sudden the event resembled a ticket at work.  As I read them I instantly knew how to do x or y, and would jump straight to the extra credit section.  This my friends is where it got interesting.  Every event this year could be solved by a PowerShell newbie, but to hit all the design criteria that would take some skill.

It was this combination that kept me in the games. Looking back it felt more like leveling in a MMO than work.  It wasn’t enough to solve the problem I wanted my stars.

PoshCode

There were a slew of issues with Poshcode V2 during the first couple days of the games.  They were fixed promptly, and the site has preformed admirably ever since.  This is the second year I’ve used PoshCode V2, and would just like to say…

JOEL… SHIP IT ALREADY…. ITS GOOD ENOUGH!!!!!1111

Seriously though, it is a massive upgrade, I’m excited to see what the poshcode.org upgrade may bring!

The Ratings

Judging criteria was put out here.  The short version is as follows.  If the script looks like it works you get two stars.  Every star beyond that is based on meeting the extra design criteria.  Now that is an incredibly open guideline…. and I am completely okay with it.

The same judges judge all the scripts so one liberal judge will give us all 5 stars.  The next judge might not like our approach and only give it three, but that stingy judge will be stingy to all the entries.  (I have some great scripts that got some whacked rankings.  Tell me how this only get’s three stars?)

That being said I would like to propose one change for next year.  We need feedback, why only four stars… did I miss something? Do you not like the formatting?  Did I go off the deep end for no reason and overcomplicated it?  All of these would be valid reasons to deduct points, but the deduction looses it’s real purpose if we can’t pass on the lesson it contains.

I’ll give you an example.  one of my close competitors this year kept creating the help by hand.  After day two or three I left a comment that said

hey great script, but you’re use of a here-string already locks you to V2.  Might as well go whole hog… check out help about_Comment_Based_Help

His very next script included comment based help.. heck he even gave me a shout out for the tip!  Awesome, this is what these games are about!

Except, that script didn’t rate too well… as of event 5 he was back to his old VBScript ways.  Somehow he associated that change with the bad rating… maybe it was part of it, he’s had all 5’s since.  Either way for on brief moment he was on track…

PowerShell Best practices

Which leads me to my final peeve about these games, and something we should fix for next year.  A script that is CLEARLY VBScript written in PowerShell should not get higher than a 3.  This isn’t about prizes or winning either.  These games are a learning event.  If we aren’t teaching best practices along the way what good are we doing anyone? You know simple stuff like don’t use the Scripting.FileSystemObject com object anymore…  I know this is a slippery slope, and I was truly blown away by the overall quality of the submissions. Nevertheless I think it’s a conversation worth having.

Motivation for the Games

As of this post I’m in first place… Looks like I might win this dang thing(what ever that means)!  Still way to early to call. Either way I didn’t participate this year for any monetary prize… I did it for the vanity of it all. I wanted to know where I stacked up.  I never thought I’d win anything… first place came out of left field.  All in all I got exactly what I wanted out of the games.  I do wish the judges had participated, they need only recuse themselves from the event they judge.  I would have liked to compete against a couple MVP’s.

New Tricks

These games forced me to step my game up.  I used EVERY trick I know, and I learned a few knew ones along the way.  Three specific tricks I will not soon forget.

Splatting:

I finally know what spatting is and why it’s a big deal.  Splatting helped me streamline half of my scripts removing 20-30 logic tree’s, by simply creating the parameter set’s upfront. I know we’ve all heard the definition before, but let me show you in code why it matters!

Before Spatting

After Splatting

As you can see splatting allows you to offload all the logic that isn’t related to the task at hand to the the script/function initialization.  This cleans up your working area, and results in cleaner code!

Windows Forms:

Last week I created my very first windows form GUI ever, and I did it by hand.  Not because I’m hardcore, but because once I got started it was REALLY easy.  Like .net itself windows forms have full reflection, meaning it’s all self descriptive from within PowerShell.

Obviously using a tool like PrimalForms will save a ton of time, but don’t feel like you need a third party tool.  This stuff is easier than you’d think!

WPF/WPK:

This was the gut shot that hurt my brain!  WPF was a lot to bit off in one chunk.  After two weeks with it I feel like I still barel y know what I’m doing, but once I do… WPK will make it easy.  WPK’s strength, and weakness come from it’s meta-programming roots.

If you don’t already know, James wrote a script that wrote WPK.  It’s all machine generated code.

The good part, it is 100% complete it can do anything possible in WPF.

The bad part, there is NO abstraction layer between you and WPF.

There are some really cool helper functions that make it easy to use PowerShell code directly.  But if you want to make a listbox you’re going have to look at a c# example. I originally planned on doing event 10 with boots, and I wish I had time… I want to compare the two head to head, but I ran short and wanted to get my final submission in.

Final Thoughts

100% worth the time, These few weeks have sharpened my skill significantly.  To the point where I’ve actually caught up at work.  At this pace I’ll be ahead of schedule next week.  I think it was just the hard break the games carried… forced me out of my rut.

Take a look at my work let me know what you think. I have very thick skin and prefer the truth over candy coated fairy tales.

If you spent this year on the side line… save the excuses.  These games, like learning PowerShell will advance you professionally; ergo they’re good for work; ergo quit you’re bitchin and get to it!  Unless you were at EMC world ;P

In closing I want to personally thank the sponsors and judges who made the games possible this year:

Thank you, Tech·Ed 2010 North America
Thank you, PoshCode.org
Thank you, Microsoft TechNet
Thank you, SAPIEN Technologies
Thank you, Quest Software
Thank you, /n software
Thank you, Software FX
Thank you, 101FreeTechBooks.com
Thank you, ShellTools
Thank you, Idera
Thank you Judges

I had a blast a learned a ton, Good job all, See ya next year!

~Glenn

@extraparams