Sitecore PowerShell Extensions Persistent Sessions

coach_time_out_400_clr_4749 If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve probably read about the ways of putting scripts in the Content Editor ribbon or Context Menu. Those are some simple and quick ways of extending the Sitecore UI to do quick actions accessible for your users without them having to even know about the existence of PowerShell in your system. Up until now however we’ve not been very vocal about the fact that those does not really have to be quick one-off actions but they can indeed form a broader solution to your problem through the use of persistent, named sessions. In fact Sitecore PowerShell Extensions (SPE) allow you to manage sessions and decide that it should stay in memory after the script have executed. In fact SPE does quite a bit of session maintenance itself that you might want to be aware of.

What do I really need to know about script sessions?

ScriptSession is an object that encapsulates a PowerShell Runspace. Whenever you decide to run a script 2 things will happen:

  • a ScriptSession is requested from the SessionManager (which either creates a new session or recovers an existing named session)
  • after which it’s being used to execute your script in either the current thread or a new Sitecore Job is being instantiated and the Script session is passed to it for execution.

This is decided internally based on what you’re using a Session for unless you’re instantiating it directly (like described in this post) in which case you’re responsible for disposing it.

After the script is executed and the Job has ended the session is discarded unless your script has a Persistent Session ID which I will show you how to define in just a moment.

Great so there are sessions… but what are they good for?

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Creating reports is probably a task that every developer dread. I for once always felt like listening to Tennessee Ernie Ford’s “16 Tons” every time when I was supposed to do it for yet another project audit – especially this part resonated with me:

I was born one mornin’ when the sun didn’t shine
I picked up my shovel and I walked to the mine
I loaded sixteen tons of number nine coal
And the straw boss said “Well, a-bless my soul”

While the Advanced System Reporter gets you a long way, I’ve found that there were still many scenarios where I would have to write the reports by hand. Madness… Fast forward to Sitecore PowerShell Extensions (or SPE for short) it actually this doesn’t have to be like that and creating reports can be both quick and fun – provided you’re going to use  Winking smile the module.

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Working with Sitecore items in PowerShell Extensions

Reading some of the blogs from the Sitecore community I find it pretty apparent that we didn’t do a great job advocating the optimizations that PowerShell Extensions have introduced for working with Sitecore items. This blog attempts to rectify this problem to a degree.

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How do I retrieve my Sitecore items the PowerShell way?

The most natural way to retrieve Sitecore items is with use of Get-Item and Get-ChildItem commandlets. That is because those 2 commandlets add a PowerShell wrapping around them that allows the functionalities that I’m going to describe in the next section of this blog after I’ll tell you all about retrieving items.

If you have retrieved your item directly using the Sitecore API you can still add the nice wrapper when you pipe them through the Wrap-Item commandlet as well. Some of those enhancements work in the older versions of PowerShell Extensions but I would encourage you to upgrade to the latest version (2.7 at the time this blog was written) to leverage the full potential of the environment.

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Posted in Best Practices, Code Samples, PowerShell, Sitecore, Software Development, Solution, Web applications
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Sitecore PowerShell Extensions Remoting

hand_controlling_puppet_figure_400_clr_14285I’ve been meaning to write this article for quite a while since the functionality to remote into the Sitecore environment exists in the module at least for at least a couple of versions now and the recent email from one of the Sitecore PowerShell Extensions users convinced me this cannot wait any longer.

When would I remote into my Sitecore instance?

You would probably need this as part of your Continuous Integration or installation scripts. If you need to manipulate Sitecore data from your deployment script remoting is the right solution for you.

How is that special?

We have a a number of web services that could somewhat achieve this functionality for even longer but I didn’t consider those sufficient since a real remoting functionality cannot be limited to just passing text results from the scripts passed but rather should enable the script writers to achieve true interactions between scripts running locally and the scripts that are being executed on the server.

To enable remoting on your Sitecore instance you don’t really have to do anything the web services are already deployed when you install Sitecore PowerShell Extensions. On your local machine all you need to do is include the commandlets in the script that you can find at the following path in your Sitecore instance if you’re using SPE versions older than 2.8:

master:/system/Modules/PowerShell/Script Library/Functions/Remoting

or here in 2.8 and newer:

master:/system/Modules/PowerShell/Script Library/Platform/Functions/Remoting

When you execute the script You will get 4 new commandlets at your disposal:

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Posted in Best Practices, Continuous Deployment, PowerShell, Sitecore, Software Development, Web applications
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