Formatting and why it s done on the right in Visual Basic .NET

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Formatting and why it s done on the right
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Figure 8.2 Locating a DefaultDisplayPropertySet in Notepad
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What if there is no predefined view For example, try running this:
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Get-WmiObject Win32_OperatingSystem | Gm
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Grab that object s type name (or at least the Win32_OperatingSystem part), and try to find it in one of the .format.ps1xml files. I ll save you some time by telling you that you won t find it. This is where the formatting system takes its next step, or what I call the second formatting rule: it looks to see if anyone has declared a default display property set for that type of object. You ll find those in a different configuration file, Types.ps1xml. Go ahead and open it in Notepad now (again, be careful not to save any changes to this file) and use the Find function to locate Win32_OperatingSystem. Once you do, scroll down a bit and you ll see DefaultDisplayPropertySet. It s shown in figure 8.2. Make a note of the six properties listed there. Now, go back to PowerShell and run this:
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Get-WmiObject Win32_OperatingSystem
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Do the results look familiar They should: the properties you see are there solely because they re listed as defaults in Types.ps1xml. If the formatting system finds a default display property set, it will use that set of properties for its next decision. If it doesn t find one, the next decision will consider all of the object s properties. That next decision the third formatting rule is about what kind of output to create. If the formatting system will display four or fewer properties, it will use a table. If there are five or more properties, it will use a list. That s why the Win32_OperatingSystem object wasn t displayed as a table: there were six properties, triggering a list. The theory is that more than four properties might not fit well into an ad hoc table without truncating information. Now you know how the default formatting works. You also know that most Outcmdlets will automatically trigger the formatting system, so that they can get the
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Formatting tables
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formatting instructions they need. Next let s look at how we can control that formatting system ourselves, and override the defaults.
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Formatting tables
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There are four formatting cmdlets in PowerShell, and we ll work with the three that provide the most day-to-day formatting capability (the fourth is briefly discussed in an Above and beyond section near the end of this chapter). First up is Format-Table, which has an alias, Ft. If you read the help file for Format-Table, you ll notice that it has a number of parameters. These are some of the most useful ones, along with examples of how to use them:
-autoSize Normally, PowerShell tries to make a table fill the width of your
window (the exception is when a predefined view, like the one for processes, defines column widths). That means a table with relatively few columns will have a lot of space in between those columns, which isn t always attractive. By adding the -autosize parameter, you force the shell to try to size each column to hold its contents, and no more. This makes the table a bit tighter in appearance, although it will take a bit of extra time for the shell to start producing output. That s because it has to examine every object that will be formatted to find the longest values for each column. Here s an example:
Get-WmiObject Win32_BIOS | Format-Table -autoSize
-property This parameter accepts a comma-separated list of properties that
should be included in the table. These properties aren t case-sensitive, but the shell will use whatever you type as the column headers, so you can get nicerlooking output by properly casing the property names ( CPU instead of cpu, for example). This parameter accepts wildcards, meaning you can specify * to include all properties in the table, or something like c* to include all properties starting with c. Note that the shell will still only display the properties it can fit in the table, so not every property you specify may display. This parameter is positional, so you don t have to type the parameter name, provided the property list is in the first position. Try these examples (the last one is shown in figure 8.3):
Get-Process | Format-Table -property * Get-Process | Format-Table -property ID,Name,Responding -autoSize Get-Process | Format-Table * -autoSize
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