Handy PowerShell ISE add-ons for server administrators

PowerShell ISE might be on the way out, but these extensions continue to sustain the development of management scripts for many Windows administrators.

IT workers are notorious for their steadfast ways. If it's not broke -- and is still covered under support -- don't change it.

Microsoft's deprecation of Windows PowerShell with the open source PowerShell Core coincides with the company's recommendation for administrators to move their coding development from the PowerShell Integrated Scripting Environment (ISE) to VS Code.

Longtime users of PowerShell ISE might be reluctant to switch for a few reasons. Some coders prefer how ISE's console displays command output. Others want features that aren't available in VS Code that make their jobs easier, such as Snippets.

Another reason for staying behind is the various PowerShell ISE add-ons that are part of the customized workflow setup that administrators rely on to manage their on-premises infrastructure and to handle various tasks in the Azure cloud platform.

Until some of the functionality available in some of the more helpful PowerShell ISE add-ons gets ported over to VS Code, there's still some life left in the venerable script editor. Here is a list of some of the extensions that PowerShell ISE stalwarts still find viable despite Microsoft's shift to VS Code.

The ISESteroids add-on

Advanced PowerShell scripters who stick with PowerShell ISE usually list ISESteroids as their main reason for staying put. ISESteroids -- as the name implies -- adds some muscle to PowerShell ISE with several enhancements to produce code more efficiently, such as its code refactoring feature and how it oversees the use of variables, which can be a boon in particularly complicated projects.

Unlike most other PowerShell ISE add-ons, ISESteroids is a bit pricey at $190; but for many longtime users, it's well worth the cost.

Azure Automation PowerShell ISE add-on

Until some of the functionality available in some of the more helpful PowerShell ISE add-ons gets ported over to VS Code, there's still some life left in the venerable script editor.

Administrators can use their PowerShell skills in the Microsoft cloud using the Azure Automation feature to set up repetitive tasks or to manage resources. IT workers can develop runbooks for various tasks such as deploying virtual machines or backing up data. The Azure portal is one way to produce runbooks, but some administrators with more advanced needs can put together a PowerShell script for Azure while working in PowerShell ISE.

The Azure Automation PowerShell ISE add-on inserts a menu interface in PowerShell ISE for administrators who use runbooks in the Microsoft cloud. Instead of going to the Azure portal to work with code, this PowerShell ISE add-on gives administrators a familiar workspace in which to build, test, publish and schedule runbooks.

The ISE Git add-on

One of the perks of VS Code is its integration with Git to help administrators maintain control over their code versions. Git offers a number of advantages, such as tracking changes to code, undoing mistakes and sharing scripts.

Noted PowerShell expert Mike Robbins cooked up his own PowerShell ISE add-on a few years back that administrators have found useful to perform a similar task. Robbins's blog explains the system requirements and provides a comprehensive tutorial to get this add-on working on your Windows 10 machine.

The Command add-on

Another PowerShell ISE add-on makes life easier for scripting administrators. Enabled after picking the Show-Command add-on from the View menu, the Command add-on connects to the help system in PowerShell and generates a catalog of available cmdlets with examples of usage and parameters. This can be helpful for administrators who use a number of modules and need a way to stay on top of all the PowerShell commands at their disposal.

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