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Variables: a place to store your stuff
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I ve already mentioned that PowerShell contains a scripting language, and in a few more chapters we re going to start playing with it. Once you start scripting, however, you tend to start needing variables, so we ll get those out of the way in this chapter. Variables can be used in a lot of places other than long, complex scripts, so I ll also show you some practical ways in which you can utilize them.
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15.1 Introduction to variables
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A simple way to think of a variable is as a box in the computer s memory that has a name. You can put whatever you want into the box: a single computer name, a collection of services, an XML document, or whatever you like. You access the box by using its name, and when accessing it you can either put things in it, add things to it, or retrieve things from it (when you do so, those things actually stay in the box, so that you can retrieve them over and over). PowerShell doesn t require a lot of formality around variables. For example, you don t have to explicitly announce or declare your intention to use a variable before doing so. The types of the contents of the variable can be changed: one moment, you might have a single process in it, and the next moment you can store a bunch of computer names in it. A variable can even contain multiple different things, such as a collection of services and a collection of processes (although I admit that using the variable s contents, in those cases, can be tricky).
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Variables: a place to store your stuff
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15.2 Storing values in variables
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Everything in PowerShell and I do mean everything is treated as an object. Even a simple string of characters, such as a computer name, is considered an object. For example, piping a string to Get-Member (or its alias, Gm) reveals that the object is of the type System.String and that it has a great many methods that you can work with (I m truncating the list here to save space):
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PS C:\> "SERVER-R2" | gm TypeName: System.String Name ---Clone CompareTo Contains CopyTo EndsWith Equals GetEnumerator GetHashCode GetType GetTypeCode IndexOf IndexOfAny MemberType ---------Method Method Method Method Method Method Method Method Method Method Method Method Definition ---------System.Object Clone() int CompareTo(System.Object valu... bool Contains(string value) System.Void CopyTo(int sourceInd... bool EndsWith(string value), boo... bool Equals(System.Object obj), ... System.CharEnumerator GetEnumera... int GetHashCode() type GetType() System.TypeCode GetTypeCode() int IndexOf(char value), int Ind... int IndexOfAny(char[] anyOf), in...
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TRY IT NOW Try running this same command in PowerShell so that you can
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see the complete list of methods and even a property that comes with a System.String. Although that string is technically an object, just like everything else in the shell, you ll find that folks tend to refer to it as a simple value. That s because, in most cases, what you re concerned about is the string itself "SERVER-R2" in my example and you re less concerned about retrieving information from properties. That s different from, say, a process, where the entire process object is this big, abstract data construct, and what you re usually dealing with are individual properties such as VM, PM, Name, CPU, ID, and so forth. I guess you could say that a String is an object, but it s a much less complicated object than something like a Process. PowerShell allows you to store these simple values in a variable. To do so, specify the variable, and use the equal sign operator the assignment operator followed by whatever you want to put within the variable. Here s an example:
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PS C:\> $var = "SERVER-R2"
TRY IT NOW You ll want to follow along with these examples, so that you can
replicate the results I ll demonstrate. You should use your test server s name rather than SERVER-R2. It s important to note that the dollar sign ($) isn t part of the variable s name. In this example, the variable name is var. The dollar sign is a cue to the shell that what
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